Brady, Belichick, McAfee, Others Respond To Adam Vinatieri's Retirement
By Jason Hall
May 27, 2021
The 24-year NFL veteran placekicker announced his decision to retire from football during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, hosted by his longtime holder, former NFL punter Pat McAfee, on Wednesday (May 26).
Vinatieri, 48, retires as the NFL's all-time leading scorer (2,673 points) and a four-time Super Bowl champion, having won three with the New England Patriots and one with the Indianapolis Colts.
"By Friday if the paperwork goes in, you heard it here first," Vinatieri told McAfee.
McAfee, who was Vinatieri's teammate for all eight years of his own NFL career, shared a post congratulating his friend on his legendary run Thursday (May 27) morning.
"I was one of the luckiest dudes on earth.. I had a front row seat to greatness. "@vinatieri’s the 🐐," McAfee wrote in an Instagram post featuring himself and Vinatieri as Colts teammates. "Congrats on a HELL OF A RUN. 10 years in New England... 14 in Indianapolis.. Whenever a multi-billion dollar franchise needed you, you stepped up and delivered. You worked your ass off, you were loved by your teammates, AND you’ve been a handsome old man for like 15 years at this point. Enjoy retirement boss, thanks for the guidance, leadership, and friendship.. Cheers man #TBT #FirstBallot
Former Patriots teammate Tom Brady, who won three of his seven Super Bowls playing alongside Vinatieri, also paid tribute to the legendary kicker amid news of his retirement.
“Congrats @Vinatieri on an incredible career,” Brady posted on his Instagram story via NESN. “When you look up clutch in the dictionary it should have your picture. An incredible teammate with an incredible work ethic. Honored to have played with the GOAT.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who coached Vinatieri for six of his 10 seasons in New England and was on the Pats' staff during Vinatieri's rookie season in 1996, called Vinatieri "the best [kicker] of all time" and predicted he would be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
"I've been very fortunate as a head coach to have some outstanding kickers from [Matt] Stover to Adam to Steve [Gostkowski] and Nick [Folk] most recently, but Adam's really, in my mind, the best of all time. His consistency, his ability to handle clutch situations and make the biggest kicks and just the longevity of his career, I mean it was a quarter of a century and the consistency is just remarkable. It was such a pleasure to be with Adam even from his rookie year in '96 to then when I came back and it was obviously right in the prime of his career and made so many big kicks. We were in so many close games, during the time when he was here and I was the head coach, we were in so many close games that his ability to consistently put points on the board was incredibly valuable and obviously the first kick in a Snow Bowl to tie it, it has to go down as one of the great kicks of all time, if not the greatest.
"And then, two game winning kicks in Super Bowls just doesn't get any bigger than that but one thing with Adam, you never felt the pressure of the moment and he certainly didn't seem to, so it gave me and our team great confidence and again, I was very, very fortunate to have a player of his caliber in my time as a head coach. And then as I said, before and after we had some pretty good ones too, but Adam was really, really special. So, tribute to him and his great career and one that I'm sure will place him in the Hall of Fame in five years. That's where he should be."
Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy, who coached Vinatieri during his first three seasons in Indianapolis, reflected on their experiences both on the same team and as opponents during what he referred to as "a spectacular career."
"After watching Adam Vinatieri from the opposite sideline for so long I got the chance to see him up close for 3 years and I saw why he was so great," Dungy tweeted. "An extremely hard worker, a great teammate, a class person-and awesome in the clutch. Congrats Adam on a spectacular career."
After watching Adam Vinatieri from the opposite sideline for so long I got the chance to see him up close for 3 years and I saw why he was so great. An extremely hard worker, a great teammate, a class person-and awesome in the clutch. Congrats Adam on a spectacular career. pic.twitter.com/smarV9wArs— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) May 27, 2021
Longtime Colts teammate Reggie Wayne also used "G.O.A.T." to describe Vinatieri amid news of his retirement, arguing that the South Dakota native is the true embodiment of the phrase.
"People use the term G.O.A.T. loosely these days. But @adamvinatieriis truly a 🐐. Congrats on your retirement bro. It was a pleasure to sit back and watch #greatness for many years. #Automatic#colts@Colts."
Here are several other notable tributes to Vinatieri amid news of his retirement:
Adam Vinatieri retires as one of the best players in NFL history who provided some of the most memorable and historic moments in our game. We are extremely thankful for Adam’s contributions to the Colts and football, and congratulate him on a phenomenal career!— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) May 27, 2021
Congratulations to Adam Vinatieri on an unbelievable career.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) May 26, 2021
He holds the NFL all-time record for most:
* Points ever scored: 2,673
* Field goals made: 599
* Total games played: 397
* Consecutive FG made: 44
And, of course, the most clutch kicker to ever play the game 🐐 https://t.co/YqJnQ8mAne
The former South Dakota State standout went undrafted in 1996 and played for the Amsterdam Admirals in the now defunct NFL Europe league before joining the Patriots that same year.
Vinatieri spent 10 seasons in New England, making three of the biggest field goals in franchise history, which included a game-tying field goal in the AFC Championship famously known as the "Tuck Rule Game," as well as game-winners in Super Bowl XXXVI and Super Bowl XXXVIII, capping off the Pats' first two of six championships from 2001-2018.
Vinatieri joined the Colts in 2006 and spent 14 years with the franchise, winning his third Super Bowl in 2007.
In total, Vinatieri made 29 game-winning field goals during his career and a record 56 field goals in the playoffs before playing his final game during the 2019 season.
Photo: Getty Images