INDIANAPOLIS — Did you know that Adam Vinatieri is third cousins with American daredevil legend Evel Knievel?
We bring you this nugget because it's getting increasingly difficult to provide Vinatieri anecdotes, stats and figures that haven't already been reported many times over — much like the fact that the future Hall of Famer went undrafted out of South Dakota State in 1996.
In fact, in that 1996 NFL Draft, just one player who kicked the football ended up being selected, and that was punter Brian Gragert, whom the Denver Broncos selected in the seventh round, 247th overall, out of Wyoming. Gragert never played a down in the NFL.
But because it's that time of the offseason in which the newest batch of undrafted rookies have signed their first professional contracts and are getting their first chances to show why they feel they are just as deserving of a shot at a final roster spot as their drafted counterparts, it's always worth a look back at what Vinatieri has been able to do — and not just as perhaps the greatest clutch kicker of all-time, but because of the mere fact that he has been able to build that career after being probably just an above-average Division II kicker coming out of college.
CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin took things a step further, when he recently listed Vinatieri among the Top 10 greatest undrafted players in NFL history. For full disclosure, Vinatieri has been included on many similar lists in the past (he was No. 4 on another list last year, if you'll recall), but, again, it's amazing to take a step back and consider everything Vinatieri has accomplished in his career that is still going strong.
Benjamin's entire list can be found by clicking here, but here's what he had to say about Vinatieri's inclusion specifically:
8. Adam Vinatieri
He just keeps on kicking. Entering his age-45 season as the oldest active player in the NFL, he's racked up records in more than two decades of title-winning play. Responsible for game-winning field goals in two Super Bowls and a four-time champion overall, he's the only kicker to ever score more than 1,000 points with two different teams and also ranks atop the league's all-time list of postseason points scorers. It's a wonder he's only gone to three Pro Bowls between 10 seasons with the New England Patriots and another 11 with the Indianapolis Colts, but he's a lock for the Hall of Fame.
For Vinatieri, the game still means as much to him as it did back in 1996, when he got his first (and only) chance with the New England Patriots.
And, with another couple solid years ahead of him, he could end up owning every key kicking record in NFL history.
He's not even thinking about hanging up his cleats yet.
"Yeah, you know I still love the game as much as I ever have," Vinatieri said last month. "It's fun running out onto the field. It's much more fun playing in the playoffs. Cleaning out your locker the first week of January is not a whole lot of fun and it always leaves a lousy taste in your mouth. I still love running out onto the field. I still think I can help our team win games and why not keep going?"
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