INDIANAPOLIS — More field goals than anyone else in NFL history? Check. More points than anyone? You bet.
The greatest kicker in the history of the National Football League? Absolutely.
It's easier to try and come up with things that Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri hasn't accomplished going into his 24th season than what he has.
After consulting with more than 250 people in the NFL community, combing over the statistics, evaluating players' impact on NFL history and going over his own personal musings, Legwold put together the NFL's ultimate all-time lineup wherein he lists the greatest player in league history at each position.
Making the team as its kicker is none other than The Greatest of All-Time, Adam Vinatieri:
"K: Adam Vinatieri
Career: New England Patriots, 1996-2005; Indianapolis Colts, 2006-present
Stat that matters: Made 56 playoff field goals
Accuracy isn't always a fair comparison through the eras for kickers because, long ago, they didn't have dedicated long snappers, and they weren't kicking off the glorified golf fairways they do now. But Vinatieri's body of work -- he'll eventually retire as the league's all-time scoring leader and was at his absolute, unshakable best in the biggest moments -- kicking the game winner in two Super Bowls.
Remember when? Lou Groza (Cleveland Browns)
Start the argument with: Morten Andersen (New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings), Justin Tucker (Baltimore Ravens), Jan Stenerud (Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings)"
Vinatieri was one of just three active members named to this team, joining current New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his head coach, Bill Belichick. Vinatieri of course was with the Patriots himself from 1996-2005 before joining the Colts in the 2006 offseason.
Since joining the Colts, Vinatieri has converted 319-of-369 field goal attempts (86.4 percent) and 485-of-496 PATs (97.8 percent) for 1,442 points. He owns the Colts' franchise record for points scored, and both field goals and extra points made. Vinatieri won Super Bowl XLI with the team in 2007, has played in the second-most playoff games (32) in NFL history and holds multiple career NFL regular and postseason records, including points scored (238) and field goals made (56).
Vinatieri has been named to three Pro Bowls (most recently in 2014) and three First-Team All-Pro teams. With 23 NFL seasons in his rear-view mirror, he has converted 582-of-690 field goal attempts (84.3 percent), 852-of-870 point-after attempts (97.9 percent) and scored one two-point conversion for 2,600 career points. Vinatieri is the only player in league history to make at least 250 field goals and to record 1,000 points with two franchises. His 84.3 career field goal percentage ranks 12th all-time. Vinatieri has 28 game-winning field goals in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime. He has earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors 18 times (most by any kicker), NFL Player of the Week honors one time (playoffs) and has been named AFC Special Teams Player of Month five times (tied for NFL record). From 2015-16, Vinatieri set a new NFL record and franchise record for the most consecutive field goals converted with 44. One of his most important records is having the most career regular season wins (215) by a single player in league history.
In 2018, Vinatieri converted 23-of-27 field goals (85.2 percent) and 44-of-47 extra point attempts (93.6 percent) for 113 points. It marked his 21st 100-point season of his career, which extended his NFL record. He became the fourth player ever to play in an NFL game at 46 years or older and was just the second player to appear in a playoff game at 46 years or older.
Whenever Vinatieri calls it a career, he is likely to become just the third pure kicker to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and perhaps the first to enter in his first year of eligibility.
What's left for him to accomplish? Here is what's within reach in 2019:
- With 20 field goal attempts, Vinatieri will pass Morten Andersen (709) for the most career field goal attempts in NFL history.
- With nine converted field goals from 30-39 yards, he will pass Gary Anderson (181) for the second-most made field goals from that distance in NFL history.
- With four converted field goals from 50-plus yards, he will pass Matt Prater (46) (also still active) for the third-most made field goals from that distance in NFL history.
- With one game played he will pass Anderson (353) for the second-most games played in NFL history.
- With five games played, he will pass Rohn Stark and Jeff Saturday (197) and tie Eugene Daniel (198) for the fourth-most games played in Colts history.
- With 14 games played, he will pass Johnny Unitas (206) for the third-most games played in Colts history.
- With 16 games played, he will pass Peyton Manning (208) for the second-most games played in Colts history.
So what record on the horizon does Vinatieri want to break next?
"Every one I guess," Vinatieri joked with reporters this offseason. "Every one is a new one I guess, right? ... Honestly for me, my goals are to make every kick every year to help my team put as many points on the board and score as many points and help our team win. That never changes, my goals are always the same, Very, very seldom do you go your whole year or whatever without having a hiccup at some point. For me, it's all about helping my team win games. I don't think I have ever really been selfishly about own records and goals – they just kind of happen if you are around long enough and if you do your job. This won't change at all.
"I am just trying to be a good leader and to be a good role model and help some of the younger guys – we will have a lot of young guys again this year, some new guys," Vinatieri continued. "As soon as we get everybody to a certain level, Colts standards if you will, get the young guys up to par on special teams and kind of help lead that way I think we will be in good shape."
Here's to more history for The G.O.A.T. in 2019.