ESPN recently polled 50 analysts, experts and reporters to vote on a greatest player of all time at each position. And, in the voting, Adam Vinatieri earned the title as the GOAT kicker or punter in NFL history.
Vinatieri earned 22 of 50 votes, beating out Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (21 votes), former Raiders punter Ray Guy (6 votes) and former Saints/Falcons/Giants/Chiefs/Vikings kicker Morten Andersen (one vote).
Vinatieri is the NFL's all-time leader in points scored (2,673) and field goals made (599), and was a three-time first-team AP All-Pro. A four-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots and Colts, Vinatieri earned his GOAT title for what he did in the playoffs.
Vinatieri's unwavering ability to make kicks under unimaginable pressure separates him from others. He converted three of the most iconic kicks in NFL history -- on a snow-covered field during the 2001 playoffs and in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII. That, combined with his incredible longevity and overall excellence, makes him the greatest of all time. -- Stephen Holder, Colts reporter
It comes down to clutch kicks. Vinatieri is far and away the leader in that department, nailing 39 kicks in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime to either tie or give his team the lead, according to Football Outsiders. When he stepped onto the field in a big moment, it felt automatic, like Mariano Rivera emerging from the Yankees' bullpen in the ninth. -- Tim McManus, Eagles reporter
Vinatieri wasn't great all the time, but he was great when he needed to be. In 1999, for instance, he blew two fourth-quarter kicks in separate games. New England went 8-8 instead of 10-6, costing Pete Carroll his job. Two years later, when he hit a 45-yarder in a snow globe against the Raiders in the playoffs -- the greatest kick in NFL history in my opinion -- he started a run of unprecedented reliance in the highest-leverage moments and launched a dynasty, changing the legacies of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. -- Seth Wickersham, NFL writer
Vinatieri will be first eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2025. Only two kickers – Andersen and Jan Stenerud – are enshrined in Canton, but it's hard to imagine a Hall of Fame without Vinatieri at some point.