Giants ink kicker Christie

And to think the Giants and Tom Coughlin actually seemed serious about heading into the 2004 season with Todd France as their kicker. Not a chance. <BR><BR>

Last Friday, Steve Christie requested his release from the Jacksonville Jaguars and contemplated retirement after 14 NFL seasons. But life after football will have to wait. The Giants signed Christie to be their new placekicker. He will make his debut in Sunday's season opener in Philadelphia.

"It's great," said Christie, who impressed the Giants in a tryout on Monday. "I'm committed to doing the best job possible I can do."

To make room for Christie, the Giants released Todd France, who made four of five field goal attempts in the preseason, including a 51-yarder. But he missed a 44-yard try in last week's loss to Baltimore. France has never kicked in a regular season game, and coach Tom Coughlin decided he wanted someone with more experience for the Eagles game and beyond.

"We felt like the veteran presence was something that we needed in terms of going down to Philadelphia, so we decided to make that move," Coughlin said. "I spoke with Todd this morning and tried to make him understand what we were doing and make him realize that he does have a future in this league, and that sometimes, just as the quarterback position, the kicking position takes a little time to get your spot. I talked to him about what I really liked about his performance this preseason and made him understand that he is certainly a guy that would be a strong consideration for other clubs as well because of the amount of time he's had on tape."

But France's body of work is minute compared to Christie's. In 14 seasons (two with Tampa Bay, nine with Buffalo and the last three with San Diego), Christie has played in 213 games. He has made 314 of 403 field goal attempts (77.9 percent), plus 435 of 440 extra point tries. Christie kicked a career-long 59-yard field goal in 1993 and a Super Bowl-record 54-yarder for the Bills vs. Dallas in Super Bowl XXVIII.

Christie's 1,377 points place him 15th in NFL history, three behind Jim Bakken and five behind Mark Moseley.

Perhaps most importantly, Christie won't be intimidated by the hostile crowds in the NFC East, or the swirling winds in Giants Stadium.

"I think it helps that I was in Buffalo for so long to come to a stadium like this, which has similar conditions with the wind and the cold," Christie said. "It was a challenge in Buffalo and it's going to be a challenge here. But that's something obviously I don't seem to mind."

Coughlin, who has been concerned about kickoff length, said Christie showed enough in his tryout to alleviate most concerns.

"He kicked off well yesterday," Coughlin said. "You're not talking about out of the end zone, but he kicked with the wind well and into the wind it was acceptable."

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