From Almost Cut, To Setting NFL Records: Adam Vinatieri's Incredible Journey

Intro: Two months away from his 44th birthday, Adam Vinatieri is busy setting NFL records. How did Vinatieri get to the point of being a Hall of Fame Kicker?

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INDIANAPOLIS – A Hall of Fame career almost ended not even a month into his rookie season.

It seems outlandish to think about now, but Adam Vinatieri was on the verge of being cut back in 1996.

Vinatieri's first NFL season got off to a very rocky start.

Three miss field goals in Week Two. The next week, Vinny couldn't convert another field goal and even missed a chip shot extra point.

Bill Parcells, the then head coach of Vinatieri in New England, was none too pleased with his rookie kicker.

"After that game, at (Parcells') interview, he said Vinatieri is 'week-to-week,' which I can read between the lines what that means obviously," Vinny, 21 years later, now says about those nerve-wrecking days in starting his NFL journey.

"I knew I was a rookie going in to replace Matt Bahr, who was Parcells' favorite all-time kicker at that point. I knew I had big shoes to fill.

"Parcells said I was 'week-to-week,' meaning I didn't have a whole lot more room for error and thank goodness after that week the season smoothed out."

Vinny would go on to miss just three times the rest of that 1996 season.

Thus a career unlike any other in NFL history had begun.

More than two decades later, Vinny chuckles about those rookie year struggles.

He's now unquestionably the NFL's most accurate kicker today and is fresh off setting a league record for most consecutive made field goals (43 straight).

The run that dates back to September 2015 and Vinny has been making every kick he's looked at, no matter the distance.

Of the 43 straight, 22 of them have come from at least 40 yards, and 9 from 50 or longer.

In the past two weeks, Vinatieri moved past Gary Anderson and Mike Vanderjagt and is now all alone atop the consecutive make list.

"There's a lot of good kickers out there that have played a lot of games and obviously Mike Vanderjagt held the record and I can't say enough about him – one of the most accurate kickers of all-time," Vinatieri said last week in Nashville after setting the NFL record. "Gary Anderson was the other one that was right there, too. I have huge admiration and respect for those guys and everybody else, too.

"I never really think about or concern myself with personal goals and personal records and that stuff. For me, I'm happy that we won the game and that this is a little bit to go along with it. I'm sure I'll sit back some day down the road and enjoy it but just very excited that we got a win."

Vinatieri is currently in a groove that NFL kickers dream about.

Since the start of 2014, Vinatieri has made 73-of-76 field goals, the best mark in the NFL.

No fan in Indy should be taking Vinatieri for granted either.

Vinny's last miss came in Week Two of the 2015 season. Since then, NFL kickers have combined to miss more than 200 field goals. Vinatieri hasn't missed one.

He has his teammates in awe.

"I remember last year the first game that I was active for and started in, that was one of the things I was most excited about---actually blocking for Adam Vinatieri kicking a field goal," second-year lineman Denzelle Good says.

"It just seemed like every game he was breaking records, setting new standards for being a kicker. It's incredible, man. I know I can only wish for that kind of longevity."

Lately, the media has been flocking to the locker of Pat McAfee seeking any insight as to why Vinatieri is kicking the best of his life with his 44th birthday two months away.

McAfee, Vinny's holder since 2009, swears the Colts' kicker is the most competitive human being out there.

"Whenever you're a kicker or a punter, the guy you think about who the hero is, it's Adam Vinatieri," McAfee says. "You ask any little kid, who's your hero as a kicker? It's Adam Vinatieri.

"He took me in and has been the coolest person ever. I try to be a sponge and learn from him. The guy is the most clutch person in the world, not even football, the history of the world and I just try to learn as much as I can from him."

Vinatieri remains in search for a record fifth Super Bowl ring, while rapidly approaching Morten Andersen's NFL records for career field goals made and points scored.

Projections have Vinatieri eclipsing the individual marks of Andersen in about two more seasons.

Showing absolutely zero signs of slowing down, that first-ballot Hall of Fame debate for Vinatieri is going to have to wait a few more years.

"You know, age to me, is nothing but a number really," Vinatieri, 43, says.

"Honestly, I'm a fairly competitive guy. I like surrounding myself with the young guys in the locker room and I take it to heart like everybody else does. We all want to do our job. We all want to do our job well and, you know, sometimes the ball flies well. I'm just very fortunate. Like I said, I can't say enough good stuff about Matt (Overton) and Pat (McAfee) and the guys up front. They make my job easier and they calm me down on the field and all that stuff. It's really 11 guys that accomplish that goal. Well, it's not, it's about 45 guys that have helped fill in and do parts of that. I'm just happy they've all gone through and hopefully we can keep it going."

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