METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Perhaps an NFL club will give John Carney a chance to kick field goals again next season, when he'll be 46.
Morten Andersen lasted that long, as Carney pointed out when he re-signed with the New Orleans Saints in August.
For now, though, Carney will have to make the best of his second Super Bowl in a coaching role. Officially, he's the Saints' kicking consultant, and he can live with that.
"In whatever position or role they've asked to fill right now, I feel very excited," Carney said. "I'm blessed to be a part of it."
When Carney re-signed with New Orleans during training camp, there was no guarantee he'd remain with the club for more than four games.
He was brought in because 23-year-old kicker Garrett Hartley was given a four-game suspension for using a banned stimulant. Hartley said he used Adderall to stay awake during a long drive from Dallas to New Orleans in the offseason, not realizing that the prescription drug was on the NFL's banned substances list.
Although Saints coach Sean Payton wasn't pleased, Hartley's roster spot was safe. He'd solidified his status as New Orleans' kicker by making all 13 of his kicks and displaying a powerful leg after being signed midway through the 2008 season.
As for Carney, Payton had no concrete plans regarding how long to keep him.
"Initially, and I'll be honest, it was signing John because of the looming suspension with Garrett and let's see how he does," Payton said after Saturday's practice.
There were reasons to believe Carney might stick around a while. A season earlier, the New York Giants brought him in as a fill-in for injured kicker Lawrence Tynes. Carney was so steady the Giants kept him all season and he was selected for the Pro Bowl.
This season, Carney wound up playing 11 games, going 13 of 17 on field goals and hitting two of his three attempts from 40 yards or longer.
Payton said he wouldn't be surprised to see Carney kick again next season if a team needed him.
"I'm sure he could," Payton said. "(It's) just a matter of how long he wants to kick for and where he sees his career going. He's had an amazing run of it though and has had good health and a lot of things that he's worked hard for.
"We realized how valuable John has been just to a young player, let alone a young kicker," Payton added. "John's kind of got that calming, steady influence about him and I think he's good for a lot of us, not just the kickers."
Carney kicked his first NFL field goal in 1988. He went to his only other Super Bowl as San Diego's kicker during the 1994 season.
This season, even as Carney competed to hold his kicking job as long as he could, he eagerly mentored Hartley and rookie punter Thomas Morstead, who also handled kickoffs.
"He was very gracious and encouraging all the time and just trying to help whenever he could," Morstead said. "I can't imagine that you see that too often with guys competing, that sort of teamwork. He's a class act."
Initially, Carney was expected to handle kickoffs during Hartley's suspension. But when Carney saw how powerful Morstead's leg was, he brought it to special teams coach Greg McMahon's attention.
"I just was kicking off on a whim just to show I could do it and (Carney) immediately was like, 'Coach Mac, look, it's not even close between us,'" Morstead recalled.
Carney then offered Morstead tips on how to approach the ball and helped him with technique.
"He just kind of helped polish me a little bit, a lot of just basic stuff that I needed help on," Morstead said.
Even after the Saints gave the kicking job back to Hartley, they kept Carney on the roster as long as they could. Injuries ultimately forced Payton's hand. He waived Carney to sign players at other positions, but asked the veteran back as a consultant.
In the NFC championship game, Hartley got the glory after drilling a 40-yarder in overtime to lift the Saints over Minnesota and send the club to its first Super Bowl. Later, Carney stood outside the locker room, looking content as he signed an autograph for a fan in a wheelchair and spoke with several nuns who were guests of the club.
"I'm just extremely excited for Garrett and excited for the entire organization and city," Carney said. "It's been a long time coming and whatever I can contribute to this team this season ... and whatever role they put me in, it's been exciting and I just feel very fortunate to be a part of this ride."