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Patriots' Bill Belichick Praises 'Legendary' Adam Vinatieri After Kicker's Retirement

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 27, 2021

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Many of Adam Vinatieri's legendary kicks came when he was a member of the New England Patriots, so it's only fitting head coach Bill Belichick had something to say about his former player following the kicker's retirement.

Belichick released a statement calling Vinatieri "the greatest kicker of all-time":

"Adam Vinatieri is the greatest kicker of all-time who made the greatest kick of all-time in the 2001 divisional playoffs. His consistency, mental toughness and performance under pressure was legendary. I am honored to have coached Adam, going all the way back to his rookie year in 1996 and through some of the most special moments in Patriots and league history. Adam is in the rarest of echelon of athletes whose career accomplishments may never be matched."

Vinatieri announced his retirement Wednesday on The Pat McAfee Show (warning: video contains profanity).

Pat McAfee @PatMcAfeeShow

BREAKING: An announcement from THE NFL'S ALL-TIME LEADING SCORER, 4X SUPER BOWL CHAMPION, FUTURE HALL OF FAMER, &amp; THE LIVING LEGEND.. <br><br>THE 🐐 @adamvinatieri #PatMcAfeeShowLIVE pic.twitter.com/iYWPFChZ0A

The retirement doesn't come as much of a surprise considering Vinatieri didn't play in the 2020 season after lacing it up for just 12 games in 2019 before requiring knee surgery.

He played 24 seasons in his career, 10 of which came for the Patriots and 14 of which came for the Indianapolis Colts. It's difficult for a kicker to reach "legendary" status, but he did just that with three Super Bowl titles with New England, one Super Bowl title with the Colts, three Pro Bowl selections and three All-Pro selections.

Nobody in NFL history has as many points (2,673), made field goals (599) or field-goal attempts (715) as Vinatieri.

NFL Throwback @nflthrowback

Clutch kick after clutch kick 🐐 @adamvinatieri pic.twitter.com/rYYrpNNFtk

While he made 83.8 percent of his career field goals and 97.3 percent of his extra points, it was the clutch kicks that stood out the most.

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Belichick highlighted his kicking in the AFC Divisional Round victory over the Oakland Raiders that helped spearhead New England's championship run during the 2001 season. Vinatieri made the game-tying and game-winning field goals in blizzard conditions during the contest, which is best remembered as the Tuck Rule game because Tom Brady's apparent fumble wasn't ruled as such.

Vinatieri also drilled game-winning kicks in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII for the Patriots and clearly earned the respect of his former coach.

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