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INDIANAPOLIS – It’s quite the compliment from one GOAT to another.
Bill Belichick coached Adam Vinatieri for 6 seasons, and witnessed some of the greatest kicks this league has ever seen.
Earlier this month, the usually succinct Belichick spoke glowingly about Vinatieri for 3 straight minutes, highlighting that the specialist did not fall into the normal ‘kicker’ stereotype.
“He certainly doesn’t fit the classic profile of a kicker,” Belichick said of the man who has scored the most points in NFL history. “He’s more of a football player. He’s physically and mentally tough. When he was (in New England), he trained and worked out with all the players. There was no special program for him as a kicker or anything like that. He embraced that. He had a great relationship with his teammates because of the way he worked, how competitive, mentally and physically, he was and how he was willing to help out in other areas of the team, scout team, things like that. Whatever the team needed, he was always great about that.
“He was a heck of a player in his role. Can’t ask for much more than that. He’s had a fabulous career. Certainly, in my opinion, the greatest kicker in the game, not just for his longevity and production but the magnitude of some of the kicks that he made.”
The longevity of Vinatieri’s now 23-year NFL career is longer than some of his current teammates have been alive.
It dates so far back that Frank Reich and Vinatieri were actually opponents during the 1996 season, Vinny’s rookie campaign.
“I remember playing against him,” Reich says of a 1996 game between Reich’s Jets and Vinatieri’s Patriots.
“It’s incredible, the guy is incredible. I couldn’t be more excited that he is here, that he has the work ethic that he does. And what I love about him is you would think he would be into himself. He is out there getting the rest guys of these guys on special teams fired up. It’s like he’s our third assistant or second assistant special teams coach out there. He’s the player, but he just adds that element of toughness, the right mindset, that winning mindset. It’s not just on the field goal team. He is about the whole team and his presence is felt out there. I am always each week asking him questions. I am asking him something every week just to kind of pick his brain. I couldn’t be happier.”
Reich handed Vinatieri the game ball this past Sunday, after setting the record that the kicker himself thought for so long was unattainable.
Up until a few years ago, Vinny thought reaching Morten Andersen’s record of 2,544 career points scored was only for dreaming.
“I remember seeing him, I played against him back in 2007, when he was in Atlanta and it might have been his last year and I just thought, ‘Man, this is unbelievable,’” Vinny said of Andersen’s record he passed on Sunday for the most points scored in NFL history. “This is a record that will never be touched. He’s done it so long for so many years and so prolifically’, that you know I just thought man it’s untouchable.
“But I guess as you keep going and you just stack years upon years the numbers start stacking up and I think probably a couple two three years ago I said, ‘Yeah, actually if you play for three or four years, five years, you might have a chance.’ So it was always way back in the back of my mind, it was never a driving thing for me, I think it was more just I’ve wanted to help my team win games and do my job. And everything else kind of stacks up and the records take care of themselves. (Chuck) Pagano used to say, ‘There’s plenty of accolades to go along with winning’, and I kind of think of it that way in the sense that you just do your job, points will stack up and at some point this day will happen. So, pretty awesome.”
Ask Andrew Luck about the GOAT, and the quarterback immediately lights up.
“I think I was a six-year-old when I went to watch him play in NFL Europe for the Amsterdam Admirals in 1996 with my dad,” Luck recall. “I think I take (Vinatieri) for granted and I don’t appreciate that man enough. What he’s done in the NFL and who he is as a teammate, he’s awesome. He’s the epitome of professional, he’s got a young heart, and he’s got a monster leg. He still booms 60-plus yarders in practice. He’s a treat and a pleasure to be around.
“I get to tell my grandkids someday that I got to play with Adam Vinatieri, the greatest kicker in the history of the NFL and hopefully the first first-ballot Hall of Fame kicker in the NFL.”
Earlier this season, Reich was fielding questions about Vinatieri and a situation when the head coach had used Vinny for a long field goal.
The normally stoic Reich had a rare moment with the media, raising his voice in inflection to describe just how special of a player the Colts have in No. 4.
“We got the best in the world,” Reich said about Vinatieri. “I mean, this guy is the best in the world. He is the best in the world.
“There is nobody better.”
Most Points Scored In NFL History
Adam Vinatieri: 2,550
Morten Andersen: 2,544
Most Field Goals In NFL History
Adam Vinatieri: 573
Morten Andersen: 565