Fabulous of foot, clutch in all weathers, Adam Vinatieri has concluded a storied career cluttered with Super Bowl championships, game-winning makes and more points than any other man to don a pair of shoulder pads after more than two decades.
In the aftermath of a 2019 campaign marked by uncharacteristic struggles and a lingering injury, Vinatieri didn’t play in 2020 and has now announced he plans to retire.
The all-time great booter made the long-anticipated announcement Wednesday on The Pat McAfee Show, delivering the news on his former longtime teammate’s show.
“Put it this way, hey let me see, today’s, what Wednesday, by Friday, if paperwork goes in, you heard it hear first,” said Vinatieri, who would be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2025.
As Vinatieri, to many the greatest kicker of all-time, retires after more than two decades of NFL chronicle, he does so as the only kicker having converted 250-plus field goals with multiple franchises (336 with the Colts; 263 with the Patriots).
Kickers come and kickers go in the NFL as great days are expected and off days lead to releases — and that’s what’s made Vinatieri such a special standout in the often overlooked world of special teams.
Calling it a career at 48, Vinatieri played roughly half his days (24 seasons) in the NFL.
Along the way, he kicked and converted and clutched up during a glorious career that included four Super Bowl championships — three with the Patriots and one with the Colts, as he shared locker rooms with all-time great quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Brady was but 19-years-young when a 22-year-old Vinatieri made his NFL debut in 1996.
Neither Joe Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, nor Trevor Lawrence, the 2021 top pick, was even born when Vinatieri was a rookie and beginning a career that would include a trio of All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections.
The all-time leader in points scored in NFL chronicle, Vinatieri’s 2,673 points sit above Hall of Famer Morten Anderson’s second-place 2,544 tally. It is but one of many records Vinatieri walks away with: most field goals (599), most consecutive field goals converted (44, from 2015-16), most seasons with 100-plus points (21), most playoff points (238), most consecutive games scoring (32) and on and on it goes. Making many of these accomplishments all the more impressive, Vinatieri’s 365 career games are second only to Anderson (382), meaning he surpassed the longtime Saints booter in so many categories in far less games.
It was when the games mattered most that Vinatieri shined brightest and truly told his legendary tales. His 56 career postseason field goals are 17 more than anyone else. His seven Super Bowl field goals are matched only by Gostkowski.
When Vinatieri lined up for a 48-yard attempt in Super Bowl XXXVI, the biggest of big games had never been won on the final play. Then Vinatieri won the Patriots their first Super Bowl as they defeated the Rams, 20-17.
It was a Vinatieri game-winning 41-yard make that made the Patriots two-time titlists after a 32-29 triumph over the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIIII.
And in the 2001 Divisional Round, the Patriots’ 16-13 overtime win against the Raiders in the game forever recognized as “The Tuck Rule Game,” it was Vinatieri, in a snowy wonderland, who sent the game to overtime with a 45-yard field goal and sent the Patriots to victory with a 23-yarder in OT.
And when his days with the Patriots were done, he would come up clutch for the Colts.
Those missed kicks of his final season will be but a footnote.
It was upon an autumn afternoon in Indianapolis on Oct. 27, 2019 when Vinatieri calmly and coolly put foot to ball for a 51-yard field goal with 26 seconds left, lifting the Colts above the Broncos, 15-13. It was the final game-winning shot of an illustrious career in which clutch kicks were the norm and championships were the reward.
He has hung up cleats that converted Super Bowl titles, he has moved on just like all the greats always do. The best foot, perhaps in the history of the game, is moving forward and moving on.
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