Bill Belichick makes Hall of Fame case for kicker Adam Vinatieri

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Curran: Why Vinatieri making HOF is so important to Belichick originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

There are two kickers and a punter in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bill Belichick was insistent and persistent Thursday morning that that better change ASAFP, and that means in five years when Adam Vinatieri is eligible for induction.

"Adam's really, in my mind, the best (kicker) of all time," Belichick said. "His consistency, his ability to handle clutch situations and make the biggest kicks and just the longevity of his career ... the consistency is just remarkable.

" ... [He] 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. His ability to consistently put points on the board was incredibly valuable. 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.

"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. ... Tribute to him and his great career, and I’m sure we’ll place him in the Hall of Fame in five years. That’s where he should be."

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No sane football observer with a working knowledge of NFL history would deny that the just-retired Vinatieri should waltz into the Hall. Will there be a smattering of attention-seeking “Well, actually …” idiocy arguing that Vinatieri wasn’t that good, was propped up by a few great kicks or was just lucky to play in New England or was “just a kicker”? Of course. That is de rigueur for this century.

And it’s probably why Belichick took off his GOAT Coach hat and put on his GOAT Historian lab coat to make sure everyone knows this is not a topic for great debate. It no doubt matters to Belichick mainly because it’s what Vinatieri deserves. But maybe it also matters to him because the number of Hall of Famers from a particular dynasty can be used as a measure of that dynasty’s place in NFL history.

So far, there’s one Patriot from this dynasty who’s been inducted, Ty Law. Richard Seymour is knocking on the door. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are getting in. Belichick too, obviously. Robert Kraft should already be in.

There’s also a passel of Patriots who’ll be very deserving of consideration. Vince Wilfork. Logan Mankins. Wes Welker. Julian Edelman. Rodney Harrison. Stephon Gilmore. If none of them get in and Seymour gets turned away as well? That would mean the Patriots dynasty would be repped only by Law, Brady, Gronkowski, Belichick, Kraft and Vinatieri.

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Meanwhile, 11 Pittsburgh Steelers from the 70s teams (including owner Art Rooney and head coach Chuck Noll) are in. There are nine 49ers from their long-running dynasty including Bill Walsh and Eddie DeBartolo. The '70s Cowboys have 10. The '60s Packers have 11.

Belichick and Brady loom large over everything the Patriots have done the past two decades. But the chance exists that their reputations may eclipse the excellence of guys like Wilfork and Mankins? No doubt.

Even though Belichick shouldn’t have to break a sweat making a case for Vinatieri, that he clearly stated that Canton should be in Vinatieri’s immediate future shows how front-of-mind that honor is for Belichick and how much he’d like to see his former players honored.