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The oldest active player in the NFL is coming back for a 24th season.
‘I love playing football’
Vinatieri celebrated his 46th birthday two days before the end of the regular season. He was 23-for-28 on field goals and 48-of-52 on extra points during the year, including a shaky performance in the AFC divisional round against the Kansas City Chiefs, when he missed a 23-yard field goal try and a PAT, the first time in 32 career postseason games he missed an extra point (the Colts lost the game by 18, so his misses weren’t the difference in the game).
The day after that loss to the Chiefs, Vinatieri was asked whether he’d return and said he felt something special coming together in Indianapolis but wanted to take some time to himself.
“Listen: I love playing football,” he said on January 14. “I love being in the locker room with these guys and stuff. So I can’t imagine doing anything else. But like anybody, we’re all gonna sit back and just decompress a little bit and see where it goes.”
Though he’s old enough to be the father of many of his teammates – standout rookie linebacker Darius Leonard was still in diapers when Vinatieri made his NFL debut in 1996 – Colts general manager Chris Ballard believes Vinatieri still has a lot to give the team, on and off the field.
“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,” Ballard said earlier this month. “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.”
Vinatieri broke two records this season: first, in Week 4 for field goals made, and later, in Week 8, for career points scored.
As he keeps playing and puts those records further out of reach for kickers that follow him – he now has 582 made field goals and 2,598 points in the regular season and 56 field goals and 238 points in the postseason – there’s really not much else Vinatieri can accomplish.
Except longevity: he’ll turn 47 at the end of the 2019 regular season, and if he makes a kick in that game, Vinatieri will become the third man in league history to score at age 47, after George Blanda and Morten Andersen.
Andersen played his last game in 2007, at 47 years, 133 days, so Vinatieri can’t pass him until the start of the 2020 regular season. Blanda played until he was 48 years, 109 days, meaning Vinatieri would have to play to the start of the 2021 regular season to get that all-time record.