Much ado has been made concerning New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady playing at a high level as he has reached his forties. While Brady, at 40, put together a season that earned him league MVP honors, it would be erroneous to claim that he is the league’s ultimate ageless wonder. That honor belongs to Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, who was a member of the Patriots well before Brady came along: And may still be kicking after his old teammate is gone.
Although Vinatieri is now 45 and entering his 23rd season in the league, Vinatieri is entering a year where he can become unmatched among placekickers in the history of the league, as he is within striking distance of surpassing the career-made field goals and points scored mark set by Pro Football Hall of Famer Morten Andersen. Vinatieri only needs to make seven more field goals and score 58 more points to own those marks.
But Vinatieri is not merely sticking around just so he can surpass Andersen’s records. Vinatieri told Andrew Walker of the Colts’ official website that retirement is not currently on his radar.
“I love it as much today as I had when I started 23 years ago,” said Vinatieri. “I’m not looking to hang them up anytime soon, unless something happens that needs to be that way.
“I guess I’ll take these one year at a time and see where it ends up. I would anticipate if I can stay healthy and be productive, I can anticipate catching up to Morten (Andersen) midseason or thereabout, and I guess at the end of the year I’d be 46,” he continued. “I’m not putting anything out of reach. I’m not looking and saying, ‘No way,’ or ‘For sure.’ But again, like I said, I just want to help our team be as productive as possible this year, and if everything works out well, hopefully we’ll be having this conversation again next year.”
Should Vinatieri indeed surpass Andersen, the only frontier left for him to cross would be to become the oldest player to ever compete in the NFL: A distinction currently held by George Blanda, who played his final NFL game at 48 years and 109 days old back in 1976. Vinatieri would surpass that mark should he play in Week One of the 2021 season.
A perspective on Vinatieri’s NFL career is staggering: As an undrafted rookie in 1996, Vinatieri played in the New England Patriots’ loss in Super Bowl XXXI, before the franchise had ever won a Super Bowl. When Vinatieri was a rookie, the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars were both in their second years of existence, the Baltimore Ravens were in their first, and the expansion Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans had yet to compete. Vinatieri then kicked the game-winning field goals in Super Bowl XXXVI and Super Bowl XXXVIII, two of his four Super Bowl championships. NFL legends have come and NFL legends have gone since 1996, but Vinatieri has gone on seemingly forever.
Last season, Vinatieri made 29 out of 34 field goal attempts with a long of 54 yards, and made 22 out of 24 extra-point attempts.