When you think of iconic football players, placekickers probably aren’t at the top of your list. Adam Vinatieri, now of the Indianapolis Colts, however, definitely deserves his place in the NFL pantheon. While the 46-year-old has had an impressive NFL career and earned a reputation as a clutch performer, things have started to slip lately.
After uncharacteristically missing another kick yesterday, the veteran could be skating on thin ice. But could the Colts really cut Adam Vinatieri?
Adam Vinatieri’s historic success
During high school, Adam Vinatieri lined up at quarterback and linebacker. He wasn’t big enough to play either position at a high level, though, so he found a home as a kicker.
Vinatieri initially enrolled at the United States Military Academy but left West Point after a couple of weeks. He returned home to South Dakota, enrolled at South Dakota State University, and spent four years kicking and punting for the Jackrabbits. After graduation, he would spend a year with the Amsterdam Admirals in NFL Europe before signing with the New England Patriots as a free agent.
Vinatieri spent 10 seasons with the Patriots, making countless clutch kicks en route to three Super Bowl titles; even driving Massachusetts snow didn’t seem to phase him. In 2006, the kicker moved to Indianapolis and promptly won a fourth championship with the Colts.
Due to his longevity and accuracy, Vinatieri holds quite a few NFL records. He has scored the most points and made the most field goals in league history. He’s been on the winning side of an unprecedented 215 regular-season wins and is arguably the greatest kicker of all-time.
Vinatieri’s recent struggles
For all of Adam Vinatieri’s success, this season hasn’t gone smoothly. The kicker’s famous accuracy seems to be slipping.
In the Colt’s Week 1 loss to the Chargers, Vinatieri missed one extra point and two field goals; the next week against the Titans, he missed two more point-after attempts. He was perfect against the Falcons but shanked another field goal when the Raiders came to town.
Vinatieri’s rollercoaster season has continued since then. He’s missed at least one kick in seven out of nine games this season. On Sunday, his failure to convert on an extra point forced the Colts to go for a touchdown rather than a field goal. They came up short of the end zone and lost 16-12 to the Miami Dolphins.
Are the Colts shopping for a new kicker?
After the Colts’ loss on Sunday, head coach Frank Reich was unsurprisingly asked about his kicker. While he didn’t throw Vinatieri under the bus, the comments didn’t sound too positive.
“We’d been committed to him, but like everybody,” Reich explained. “We’re going to always evaluate. Everyone gets measured, everyone’s held accountable. From top to bottom, that’s always the case. Nothing meant to read into that, that’s just the reality.”
While Adam Vinatieri is an NFL legend, those comments sound dangerously close to “vote of confidence” territory. This season, the Colts are 5-4 and fighting for a playoff spot. Every game they’ve played has been decided by a single score; while everyone wins and loses as a team, it’s hard to avoid looking at those missed field goals and extra points.
Vinatieri’s status may keep him safe this week, but he has to be on thin ice. No one, not even an NFL legend, can keep giving away points.