Vinatieri, Mathis to miss Colts’ reunion for good reasons
INDIANAPOLIS — Adam Vinatieri’s reunions usually consist of a personal trip down memory lane.
At least there he can take a few moments to reflect on the six AFC championship teams he played on, the four Super Bowl rings he won and all those famous kicks he made along the way.
One day, the Indianapolis Colts seemingly ageless kicker figures he’ll finally be able to participate in some of those memorable halftime celebrations, such as the one taking place Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Until then, the league’s oldest player at age 43 will focus on what he does best — making kicks — and let those former teammates enjoy the show.
"There have been a few (missed reunions)," the Colts kicker said Wednesday. "Some in New England, too. Yeah, they gave me the token invitation, knowing that I couldn’t go because I was still playing."
Forty players, nine coaches and Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian are all expected to attend the 10th anniversary of Indianapolis’ Super Bowl title.
Some of the household names — Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and Jeff Saturday — are expected to attend.
Some of the postseason stars — Joseph Addai, Marlin Jackson, Dan Klecko and Dominic Rhodes — also are coming back. Even a handful of forgotten players, such as Rocky Boiman and Bo Schobel, have made plans to attend.
There will be several noticeable absences, too.
Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy will miss the reunion because of his Sunday Night Football duties. Hall of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison, 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the year Bob Sanders and record-setting defensive end Dwight Freeney, now with the Atlanta Falcons, are not on the current list of confirmed guests.
Then there are Vinatieri and Robert Mathis, the only remaining players from the title team still on the Colts’ roster.
While they may try to sneak out for a team dinner Saturday night or find a few spare moments to meet with some old pals, they know this is a working weekend that may force them out of most of the festivities around town.
"It’s a good problem to have," Vinatieri said.
While Vinatieri and Mathis are still focused on collecting another ring, their paths have taken divergent paths this season.
The 35-year-old Mathis was slowed early by a bad knee and he has struggled to round into form in the final year of his current contract. Through nine games, the Colts’ career sacks leader has 19 tackles, only two sacks and four tackles for loss.
Vinatieri, meanwhile, has thrived. He’s made an NFL record 44 consecutive field goals, including his past nine from 50 yards or longer.
Regardless of where their careers stand now, neither has forgotten the lessons from their postseason success.
Just four weeks after allowing 375 yards rushing to Jacksonville in mid-December, the defense completely shut down Kansas City’s Larry Johnson, the league’s No. 2 rusher. In the divisional round, Vinatieri made five field goals at Baltimore — in a 15-6 win that featured no touchdowns.
In the conference championship game, the Colts used two touchdowns from linemen to rally from an 18-point deficit to defeat their biggest nemesis, New England.
And they capped off their title run by pulling away from Chicago in rainy Miami.
"Basically it was our time and we just followed our leader, Tony Dungy," Mathis said. "He drove the point home that it was our time and stayed the course. Faith is a powerful thing when you believe you can get things accomplished."
Now, like then, the Colts (4-5) are trying to defy those who have been counting them out. The quest continues Sunday against surging Tennessee (5-5) .
But while other guys spend the weekend retelling stories, rekindling friendships and relaxing, Vinatieri and Mathis will happily spend this weekend working.
"It’s for them and we were part of that," Vinatieri said. "But for me it’s about trying to win a game."
Notes: Three players missed Wednesday’s practice with injuries — right guard Denzelle Good (illness), defensive end Kendall Langford (knee) and cornerback Patrick Robinson (groin). … Defensive tackle Henry Anderson (knee), left guard Jack Mewhort (triceps) and right tackle Joe Reitz (concussion) all were full participants at practice. … Andrew Luck was selected as the Colts’ Ed Block Courage Award winner after returning from a lacerated kidney that forced him to miss the final seven games in 2015.