Adam Vinatieri Begins 21st NFL Season

Intro: The NFL’s oldest player is back to work, beginning his 21st season in the league. How has Adam Vinatieri’s preparation changed over the years?

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INDIANAPOLIS – In less than a week, the Colts will welcome around 20 rookies into their building.

They will likely stare in awe of Adam Vinatieri.

And the Hall of Fame kicker will probably shake his own head in disbelief at their age.

For some 2016 rookies, they hadn't even celebrated their first birthday when Vinatieri began his NFL career on June 28, 1996.

Now, at the age of 43, NFL season No. 21 is on the horizon for Adam Vinatieri.

"I would have never thought in my wildest dreams that I would play 20-plus years," Vinatieri says.

"It's amazing how fast it's gone. Really, every year flies by even faster than the year before and it just doesn't feel like it's been 20 years."

Vinatieri returned to work last week for the start of his 11th season in Indianapolis. He has now played in Indy longer than he did in New England.

Along with his plethora of longevity-based records, Vinatieri is the only player in league history to have scored 1,000 points with two different teams (New England: 1,158 and Indianapolis: 1,095).

While Sunday's haven't changed too much for Vinatieri over his two decades of NFL-life, the six days in between are different.

"The older you get the more you have to pay attention to your body," Vinatieri says. "For me, nutrition and sleep and doing all the right things to keep my body as well as I can is important.

"The major thing from your early 20s to your early 40s is your body bounces back a lot quicker in your 20s. You work out hard, you kick a bunch of balls and the next day you still feel like you can do it again. The recovery time was a major thing that has changed. I have to be smarter with things. I have to spend more time in the training room getting some extra bodywork. I have to eat as nutritious as I can and get enough sleep so that recovery time isn't as long. The nice thing is it's still doable, just a little more effort."

That effort has paid off.

No NFL kicker has been more accurate the last two seasons than Vinatieri (55-of-58, 94.8%).

The work Monday-Saturday might be more tedious for Vinatieri, but the thrill of Sunday is well worth it.

"There's nothing like stepping out on the field in front of your fans and playing the game," Vinatieri says.

"Obviously I'm getting older and grayer and all that stuff, but it's as much fun stepping out there today as it was 20 years ago. The day that it's no fun is maybe the day that I'll be done. But I still love it as much today as I ever have."

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