He’s back: Colts’ Vinatieri to return for 24th NFL season
INDIANAPOLIS — Adam Vinatieri will still be the NFL’s oldest active player next season.
The 46-year-old kicker and the Indianapolis Colts have agreed to a new deal, general manager Chris Ballard announced Friday on 1070 The Fan, the radio station that broadcasts the team’s games. Terms of the deal were not immediately available.
But it was hardly a surprise. The day after Indy’s season ended with a divisional-round loss to Kansas City, Vinatieri said he would “probably” be back for his 24th season in the league. And if all goes as planned, the NFL’s career scoring leader might still be adding to his record total of 2,600 a while longer.
“There are no guarantees for any of us that there’s a next day, a next year, anything. I’ve kind of always prepared myself thinking that way,” Vinatieri said last month after noting he’d like to play 10 more seasons. “There are no guarantees, and when you get to my age, you’re absolutely right, your days are numbered.”
The four-time Super Bowl champion has showed no signs of slowing down.
He made 23 of 27 field goal attempts last season and finished with 113 points — extending his league record to 21 100-point seasons.
But that’s just part of Vinatieri’s resume.
In September, he broke Morten Andersen’s league record for field goals made and needs 10 more to become the first player with 700 field goals. In October, he broke Andersen’s NFL scoring record. In December, he became the fourth player in league history to participate in a game at age 46.
His 32 career playoff games are second all-time, behind former teammate Tom Brady, and he’s the only player to score 1,000 points with two different franchises — Indy and New England.
Yet somehow Vinatieri and his white beard seem like a perfect fit in this young locker room.
“He seems like he’s the same age he was when I first came in here and I guess that’s been eight years,” left tackle Anthony Castonzo said earlier this month. “That’s pretty impressive, eight years, going through your early 40s that you don’t really seem any older. I’m always impressed with how he’s able to hang out with the young guys and be one of the guys despite being old enough to be one of our dads.”
Andrew Luck added: “Vinny is the best. I love him.”
And there are more milestones ahead for Vinatieri if he stays healthy.
His next game played will be No. 354, breaking a tie with Gary Anderson for second on the career list, and if he’s still kicking after he turns 47 in late December, Vinatieri would join Andersen and George Blanda as the only 47-year-olds to play in a game.
But Ballard saw another reason to bring back the league’s oldest player for another season.
“Do I think he can still kick in this league and be a really good kicker? Absolutely I do,” Ballard said Jan. 14 in his season-ending news conference. “He is as important a guy in that locker room as anyone. I don’t know if I have been around a special teams player that has as much impact as Adam does in the locker room. From a positive standpoint, all of our young guys that come in get to see Adam Vinatieri work, rehab, prepare his body every year, be a pro, handle the hard times, handle the good times. I mean all of that, what Adam brings, brings a lot of value to this team.”