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Is Adam Vinatieri the best special teams player ever?

Jordy McElroy



Aug 28, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri (4) against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Vinatieri, the ageless wonder, has ice for veins and a kicking leg so strong not even Father Time can stop it.

So many opponents have left the field of battle in defeat after Vinatieri’s late heroics, and more could follow in 2018 with the legendary placekicker signing a contract extension with the Indianapolis Colts.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Vinatieri is returning for his 23rd NFL season at the age of 45. Most 45-year-old former NFL stars are fishing or on a beach somewhere sipping pina coladas. Vinatieri, the greatest placekicker in NFL history, will be competing with some of the best athletes in the world.

Some might scoff at the notion that Vinatieri is the greatest placekicker of all time, but they’ll have a harder time doing so after he surpasses Morten Andersen’s records for field goals kicked (565) and points scored (2,544). He is already on pace to break both records next season.

No one has been better than Vinatieri when the game is on the line. His magical leg helped Tom Brady and the New England Patriots win multiple Super Bowls, and it also got the Colts out of many jams over the years. Last season, he hit a game-tying kick against the Buffalo Bills from 43 yards out in a massive snowstorm.

That kick manifested the all-time-great aura surrounding the four-time Super Bowl champion.

“He’s the GOAT,” Colt wide receiver T.Y. Hilton said after the game. “And that’s the reason why.”

Wideout Chester Rogers added, “Are you kidding me with that kick? G-O-A-T.”

Not only is Vinatieri the greatest placekicker of all time, he might be the greatest special teams player in NFL history, period. That’s a tougher argument to build considering the bevy of talent that has come through the league throughout its existence.

Andersen, Jan Stenerud, Devin Hester, Ray Guy and Steve Tasker will always be in the discussion, but no one has been more clutch than Vinatieri, who never leaned too much on the luxury of playing with Brady and Peyton Manning for most of his career. When his moments come, he turns into a stone-faced assassin.

“He’s probably old enough to be a lot of our fathers, but he does an amazing job of being a big part of the fabric of our locker room,” Colt quarterback Andrew Luck told ESPN’s Ian O’Connor. “I don’t think I truly appreciate him enough. I don’t think any of us will truly appreciate how special he is until after he’s done playing.”

Greatness isn’t only measured in statistics. It’s measured in those rare moments that write the books of history. Vinatieri has been fortunate enough to be in more of those moments than most, and his teammates, whether on the Patriots or Colts, were fortunate enough to have him in the lineup.

Jordy McElroy is a writer and MMA athlete currently residing in the beautiful state of Tennessee. Born in Wurzburg, Germany, his early years were spent as a military brat traveling the world with his family. An unwavering passion for both fighting and journalism has helped this once small time writer achieve mainstream status. His articles have generated over 11 million reads, along with several being featured on the front page of CNN.com and FoxSports.com. He is currently training and preparing for his first MMA fight.