The writing was already on the wall after he had sat out the 2020 season, but on Wednesday it was made official. Adam Vinatieri announced his retirement from the NFL after four Super Bowl wins and a record 397 games.
While he actually spent most of his 24 years in the league with the Indianapolis Colts, he built the foundation of his Hall of Fame career as a member of the New England Patriots. Accordingly, Bill Belichick released a statement in light of Vinatieri’s retirement.
“Adam Vinatieri is the greatest kicker of all-time who made the greatest kick of all-time in the 2001 divisional playoffs,” the Patriots head coach 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 of echelon of athletes whose career accomplishments may never be matched.”
Vinatieri and Belichick spent six seasons together from 2000 to 2005, winning three championships. Along the way, the kicker made some of the biggest plays in Patriots history: he kicked game-winning field goals in two Super Bowls and also made what Belichick called the “greatest kick of all-time” against the then-Oakland Raiders in the playoffs — a 45-yarder in a snowstorm to tie the game.
At that point Vinatieri was already well-established as a kicker.
After originally entering the league as a rookie free agent in 1996, Vinatieri went on to spend 10 seasons in New England. Proving himself the ultimate clutch kicker in NFL history, he helped establish the Patriots’ dynasty before taking his talents to Indianapolis.
He spent a total of 14 seasons as a Colt, and won another championship in 2006, but he will always have a special place in New England sports lore due to his performances in the early 2000s. Those same performances have also paved the way for him to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day — maybe as early as 2025.
Will Adam Vinatieri make the Pro Football Hall of Fame on first ballot?
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