Adam Vinatieri, legendary kicker for the Patriots and Colts, has finally decided to retire.
Vinatieri went on his good friend Pat McAfee’s show earlier today to announce that, after a whopping 24 seasons in the NFL, he will be hanging up the cleats at the ripe old age of 48. After an IR designation in 2019, Vinatieri didn’t play at all last season, and now he’ll be moving on to the next phase of his life.
If you’re high school age or younger, you likely don’t remember Vinatieri’s stint with the Patriots, which began all the way back in 1996 when he was brought in as an undrafted free agent to compete with 17-year veteran Matt Bahr. Bahr was a member of the 1990 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, coached by the very same Bill Parcells that now manned the helm for New England, and he was widely considered the camp favorite. But Vinatieri won the job, and for 10 years was one of the most dependable, accurate, and clutch kickers in the National Football League. He finished his tenure in New England 263 of 321 on FGs, good for an 82% accuracy rate. Even crazier is that of his 804 kickoffs with the Patriots, only 61 resulted in a touchback - just over 7%. In a game of field position, the importance of having a guy who was automatic once you got to the 35 and gave your kicking unit the chance to force a long field can’t be overstated.
Oh, and he made a few impressive kicks in the playoffs as well.
You’d think that time would have dulled the razor sharp edges of the moments that Adam Vinatieri brought to Patriots Nation, but they haven’t. I still remember with absolute, broken-glass clarity where I was, what I was doing, and how I was feeling when Adam Vinatieri brought New England to the brink of hysteria as he kicked that ball 45 yards through blinding, swirling snow to tie the 2001 AFC Divisional Round between the Patriots and Raiders at 13. Absolutely nothing about that kick should have been humanly possible, but Vinny nailed it. I don’t think there will ever be another kick like that in the history of this game. Season on the line, snow so thick you don’t even know where the goalposts are, kicking blindly into the wind relying on nothing but your instincts, and coming through. Then going on to kick the game winner in overtime to send your team to the AFC Championship Game. Just unfathomably amazing.
And then, a few weeks later, Vinatieri came onto the field to attempt a 48 yarder with seven seconds left in the Super Bowl, hoping to cap off a drive that began on the New England 17 yard line in which Tom Brady went five for six to get the Patriots down to the Rams 31. He split the uprights perfectly, he knew it the second the ball left his foot, and as he started jumping up in the air, arms raised in triumph, and as I collapsed to my knees in tears at my fraternity house, the New England Patriots became World Champions for the first time.
Adam Vinatieri would help them win two more rings before he departed for Indy, both Super Bowls won by a single field goal, and he would add another ring during his tenure with the Colts. He was a staple of the early Patriots dynasty, a team and fan favorite, and has etched his place in pro football lore in stone. That he did it as a member of the New England Patriots should remind us all once again how unbelievably blessed we are to have witnessed this team these past 20 plus years.
As he calls it a career, Adam Vinatieri holds the honor of being the NFL’s all-time leading scorer at 2,673 points. He also holds NFL records for most field goals made (599), most playoff points (238), and most overtime field goals made (12). He was named a member of the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team and holds the very rare distinction of being a lock for the Hall of Fame as a kicker. Look for him to receive a red jacket over at One Patriot Place before long too.
If you were asked to make a Mount Rushmore of Patriots players, you could make a damn good case for putting Vinatieri on it, alongside Tom Brady, John Hannah, and Andre Tippett. To say that about a kicker, a job that has only slightly more long-term security than Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts, is nothing short of remarkable.
As an interesting connection, now that Vinatieri has officially retired, the oldest player in the entire NFL is now one Thomas Edward Patrick Brady.
Thank you, Adam. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement. What a run.