Kickers are people too, and Adam Vinatieri is the greatest kicker of all time. Put some damn respect on his name. The 48-year old veteran, who is the all-time leading scorer in NFL history, announced his retirement yesterday on the Pat McAfee Show.
Vinatieri has a fascinating backstory. He played college football in his native state, for South Dakota State University. He finished his four-year collegiate career as its SDSU all-time leading scorer. After going undrafted, Vinatieri played overseas for a year with the then-World League of American Football’s Amsterdam Admirals (and he’s in their Ring of Honor, as is Kurt Warner!). Before the 1996 season, he signed with the New England Patriots as a free agent, and beat out veteran Matt Bahr for the job.
Vinatieri, like Tom Brady, carved out his name and his reputation in the 2001 playoffs, when he drilled a 45-yard kick in a blizzard to send the infamous “tuck-rule” game against the Raiders into overtime.
“Adam Vinatieri is the greatest kicker of all-time, who made the greatest kick of all-time in the 2001 divisional playoffs,” Belichick said. “His consistency, mental toughness, and performance under pressure was legendary. I am honored to have coached Adam, going all the way back to his rookie year in 1996 and through some of the most special moments in Patriots and league history. Adam is in the rarest echelon of athletes whose career accomplishments may never be matched.”
After winning three Super Bowls at the beginning of the Patriots dynasty, New England did not place the franchise tag on the prolific kicker and allowed him to walk in free agency. He set his eyes on either warm weather or a dome, and when the Indianapolis Colts and their indoor playing surface called, it was a quick marriage.
“When the Colts called, I told my agent, ‘Let’s not screw around,’” Vinatieri said in 2006. “I told him, `If Indy is interested, let’s get this done.’”
In his first season with the Colts, he found himself in familiar territory — back in the Super Bowl. En route to the big game, he went 5/5 in a 15-6 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round. He once again found himself at the top of the sport, winning his fourth Super Bowl ring, this time over the Chicago Bears.
He’s also the only player in league history to top 1,000 points with two different franchises.
Vinatieri is a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer with 2,673 career points scored and 599 field goals made (both records).