In 1995, Adam Vinatieri was a kicker coming out of South Dakota State University. With 185 points, he was the all-time leading scorer for the Jackrabbits.
The NFL Draft came and went and his phone never rang.
“I knew I wasn’t going to get drafted,” he said. “You’ve got to be a really good kicker to get drafted in general.”
Still, his hopes were high.
“I had a couple teams that said, ‘We’re not going to draft you, but expect a phone call as maybe a free agent.’”
Once again, he was disappointed.
“I was available by the phone, but it just didn’t ring. Then I started making phone calls and trying to figure out what was going on,” he said. “That’s probably the uncomfortable phone call that they have to answer and say, ‘We decided to go in a different direction.’”
He had some interest from teams in Canada, but he chose to chase his NFL dream instead. It was a big gamble, but he bet on himself – and soon it would pay off.
He got a tryout with NFL Europe’s Amsterdam Admirals and played one season overseas.
In 1996, he was signed by the New England Patriots, where we won three Super Bowls and earned the nickname of Mr. Clutch.
In 2006, Adam Vinatieri became a Colt, won a fourth Super Bowl, and starting breaking records like he kicks field goals – one after another.
Now in his 23rd NFL season – this year, he’s chasing the biggest record of all. Just 57 points shy of Morten Andersen’s all-time NFL points record of 2,544, Vinatieri is on pace to break it in 2018.
Not bad for a kicker no one wanted on draft day.
And that’s the lesson.
“There are a lot of kids out there right now hoping that they get drafted or hoping that they get signed to continue their lifelong dreams and goals. There will be a lot of guys that make it and there will be some that don’t,” Vinatieri said. “It’s part of football.”
It doesn’t matter how you get into the NFL. All that matters is what you do once you get there.
“I’ve had so many teammates and guys across the league that were late round or a non-draft pick play a nice, long career and do some really great stuff,” he said. “Just because you’re not a first or second or third rounder doesn’t mean you can’t contribute and play many years and play good football.”
No one knows that better than him.
From an undrafted college kicker to the NFL record books, Adam Vinatieri believed in himself and never gave up on his dream.
As for those phone calls he never received on draft day?
“Shame on them,” he said.