INDIANAPOLIS — Whenever Adam Vinatieri hangs ‘em up — and, at this point, who knows when that will be? — he should only have about a five-year wait before he is enshrined in Canton, Ohio, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And while Vinatieri’s gear is no stranger to various the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s more temporary displays — he has had a ton of big moments throughout his 23-year NFL career — it’s his latest major accomplishment that really caught some buzz across the National Football League landscape.
Vinatieri on Sunday passed Hall of Famer Morten Andersen to become the league’s all-time leader in points scored, netting 10 points total — two on field goals, and four on extra points — in the Colts’ 42-28 road victory against the Oakland Raiders.
Accordingly, the Pro Football Hall of Fame wants to celebrate this significant milestone.
Vinatieri barely had time to get his uniform off after Sunday’s game before it was being shipped, along with the record-breaking football, to Canton to be put on display for all visitors to see:
Vinatieri, who now sits alone atop the record book with 2,550 points and counting, was understandably a little emotional after Sunday’s game, when his head coach Frank Reich gave him the game ball — to the joy of his fellow teammates and coaches around him.
“I never thought I’d play this long and have the opportunity to be standing here talking about this right now,” Vinatieri told reporters after that moment. “But you know I love my teammates, all of them, for the last 23 years unselfishly, for going out there and letting me do my job and help me do my job and [make] a lot of great memories along the way.
“Being in that locker room after – and that’s the best part about today; it’s less the record but more that we got the record on a win, you know what I mean? The atmosphere in the locker room and the guys there and the support, you know, it’s hard to explain on how I just love and respect the players and the game and all the guys.”
That love and respect, of course, is mutual. Here is just a sampling of what Vinatieri’s coaches and teammates had to say about his record-breaking day:
Frank Reich: “The icing on the cake was that we got to witness something really special today. We saw the greatest kicker of all time break that record. That’s pretty special. We just celebrated that in the locker room and that’s pretty cool. We just could not be more proud that Adam Vinatieri is on our team and what he means to us.”
Andrew Luck: “I really don’t think we fully appreciate what just happened or really playing with Vinny. He just doesn’t make a big deal out of anything. He approaches everything with such a professionalism and humility and deflects attention sometimes that I think we get lulled to sleep. I love playing with him. He’s taught me so much. How to handle yourself, and how to be a pro. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I’ll get to tell my grandkids and kids down the road that right now I play with Adam Vinatieri and at some point I got to play with Adam Vinatieri. He’s the best, the best ever.”
Jack Doyle: “Oh yeah, Vinny is the man. I was joking with him, I wish I had been out there with him on the field goal. They didn’t let me on field goal this week coming back from the injury. I’ve been out there for a lot of his. There’s not a better guy, not a harder worker, not a better pro to just watch and observe and see how he works every day. Shows up every day. He’s the greatest of all time. It’s obvious and it’s an honor to play with him.”
Eric Ebron: “Oh man! I love that dude. This is my first year with him. And he works his butt off, always in the training room getting treatment before me. Which makes me mad, because I can’t move him out the way. He’s an old head; I’m not that old. I love him man, I’m extremely proud of his success. Anytime you are No. 1 in anything, that’s huge.”
Colts owner Jim Irsay also tweeted his support for his kicker on Monday morning: