INDIANAPOLIS — Adam Vinatieri could very well become the National Football League's all-time leader in career made field goals and points scored, and he could very well achieve those feats by midway through the 2018 season.
Both achievements would be the cherry on top to what has already been a surefire Hall of Fame career.
And while Vinatieri certainly doesn't ignore those types of potential milestones, he isn't sticking around solely to pad his stats and then ride off into the sunset — and into his eventual gold jacket in Canton.
In fact, as Indianapolis Colts fans have learned the last 12-plus years, Vinatieri seems to getting better with age. And he might be the oldest active player in the NFL — and it's not even really close — but Vinatieri re-signed with the Colts this offseason not only because he loves the state of Indiana and the Colts' fans, but because he knows he can still play the game at a high level.
Not to mention he wants a fifth Super Bowl ring.
"We have a lot of things that can make this team successful and I look at this as a team that can make the playoffs moving forward," Vinatieri said. "And that was a big decision for me. I clearly wanted to stay in Indy. My family lives here. Everybody, we love the state of Indiana. We are all Hoosiers now. But I also felt like I wanted to play for a team that can win and I feel like Chris Ballard and hiring Frank [Reich], I talked to Frank a little bit as well, I think these two gentlemen can definitely turn this organization around so I'm happy and excited to sign with this team and to see where we can go with it."
Vinatieri is coming off yet another strong year for the Colts, converting 29-of-34 field goal attempts (85.3 percent) and 22-of-24 extra-point tries (91.7 percent). Of his five field goal misses, two came during an absolute blizzard Week 14 against the Bills in Buffalo, and two others happened a couple weeks later against the Baltimore Ravens in a driving rainstorm; one attempt from 60 yards out was inches away from clearing the crossbar, while another attempt was blocked.
He also earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for a record 17th time in his career in Week 5 when he connected on all four of his field goal attempts — including the game-winner in overtime — in the Colts' 26-23 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Two of his kicks, including the winner, were from 50-plus yards.
And now, heading into the 2018 season, Vinatieri, as mentioned, has a chance to cement his status as the greatest kicker in NFL history. With seven made field goals, he will pass Morten Andersen (565) for the most in NFL history; and with 58 points, he will pass Andersen for the all-time lead in that category, as well.
But just as important to Vinatieri is his legacy as a winner. Two of his kicks have won Super Bowls — both for the New England Patriots — and, in all, he has won four world championships. And with five regular season wins in 2018, Vinatieri will pass George Blanda (209) for the most career regular season wins in league history.
So is that how Vinatieri has convinced himself to keep playing all these years?
"Obviously this all-time leading scorer thing I knew was out there and I thought, 'Man, if I stay healthy, I would like to reach that goal,'" Vinatieri admitted. "But for me, like I said before, more importantly if our team is a team that is a contender to continue to make playoffs and have a chance to play in another Super Bowl and stuff, that is a huge, huge driving factor for me."
At this point, however, Vinatieri seems to enjoy re-evaluating his situation year by year and then going from there. If he's still kicking at a high level, and if his team is still a contender, he doesn't feel like it would be fair to himself to stop playing just because he's reached a certain age.
By the way, Blanda was 48 years and 109 days old when he became the oldest player in NFL history back in 1976. Vinatieri would need to play Week 1 of the 2021 season to earn that record, too.
"I love it as much today as I had when I started 23 years ago," Vinatieri said. "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," Vinatieri 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."
A throwback in honor of Adam Vinatieri's birthday!