As the NFL has unveiled its all-time team in celebration of the league’s 100th season, there’s been some criticism that more recent players were overlooked in favor of players from the 1960s and 1970s. But when the all-time kickers were revealed, an active player finally made the list.
Adam Vinatieri was named one of the kickers on the all-time team, the first time an active player has made it. Bill Belichick, who coached Vinatieri on the Patriots, said on NFL Network’s show about the all-time team that he considers Vinatier’s 45-yard field goal to force overtime in the “Tuck Rule Game” in January of 2002 to be the best kick in NFL history.
“Personally, with Adam, I just can’t say enough about that kid,” Belichick said. “The kick he made against Oakland in four inches of snow was the greatest kick I’ve ever seen.”
With Vinatieri leading the way, the all-time team’s special teams selections had more of a modern flair, also including punter Shane Lechler (retired 2017) and kick returner Devin Hester (retired 2016).
Still, the all-time team has been skewed toward the era just after the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, which many of the selectors may view as pro football’s glory days. There are 25 players on the all-time team who were active during the 1970s, compared to just 14 who were active in the 2000s and five who were active in the 2010s.