INDIANAPOLIS — Adam Vinatieri sits at one finish of the Indianapolis Colts’ locker room, his increasing white beard practically an ideal match to his helmet and jersey.
He doesn’t hearken to the hip-hop music within the background, doesn’t fake to grasp the shiny, new digital devices everybody else performs with and positively doesn’t pay a lot consideration to the traits exterior these partitions. But in Vinatieri’s thoughts, that is nonetheless the right spot.
Right here, in a league identified for being historically unkind to “previous” males, the 46-year-old kicker feels comfy retelling playoff yarns, discussing union enterprise, even providing casual private recommendation to teammates who, in some circumstances actually come from a distinct era.
“He looks as if he’s the identical age he was once I first got here in right here and I assume that’s been eight years,” left deal with Anthony Castonzo stated Thursday. “That’s fairly spectacular, eight years, going by means of your early 40s that you simply don’t actually appear any older. I’m all the time impressed with how he’s in a position to hang around with the younger guys and be one of many guys regardless of being sufficiently old to be considered one of our dads.”
Certain there are rising indicators of Vinatieri’s advancing age.
Along with the graying hairs, his oldest son, A.J., served as a ball boy at coaching camp final summer time. Vinatieri’s nephew, Chase, lately accomplished his junior season at South Dakota State, the place the elder Vinatieri additionally performed. The league’s oldest energetic participant now co-owns an IndyCar developmental sequence race group with Dr. Jack Miller, a neighbor and three-time Indianapolis 500 starter.
Make no mistake: Vinatieri will not be gearing up for all times after soccer simply but.
If given the possibility, he says he’d prefer to play 10 extra years and if he continues outperforming guys half his age, he simply would possibly proceed a record-breaking profession that doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
In September, he handed Morten Andersen for essentially the most profession subject targets in NFL historical past. A month later, he supplanted Andersen because the league’s profession scoring chief. Final week he joined Andersen, the late George Blanda and John Carney as the one gamers to look in an NFL recreation after turning 46.
And if issues go as deliberate in Saturday’s wild-card recreation at Houston (11-5), the NFL’s profession postseason scoring chief would take step one towards becoming a member of former teammate Tom Brady and Corridor of Fame move rusher Charles Haley as the one gamers to win 5 Tremendous Bowl rings.
“There’s nothing like having the chance and being a type of groups nonetheless preventing to get into the Tremendous Bowl,” Vinatieri stated earlier this week. “Each group begins the season with that purpose and the final word purpose continues to be on the market in entrance of us.”
It’s been a protracted slog again to the postseason for the best clutch kicker in league historical past.
After making the playoffs in 11 of his first 15 professional seasons, Vinatieri’s Colts didn’t qualify 4 occasions within the subsequent seven years, together with three straight following a loss to the dreaded New England Patriots, Vinatieri’s former group, within the 2014 AFC championship recreation.
Twice throughout that span, the Colts modified common managers and coaches, and there have been two main roster overhauls. Vinatieri survived each and is considered one of 4 energetic gamers left from Indy’s final playoff look.
Issues didn’t look any higher when the Colts had been 1-5. However Vinatieri helped spur a historic midseason turnaround because the Colts gained 9 of their final 10 to say the AFC’s remaining playoff spot by beating Tennessee and coach Mike Vrabel, considered one of Vinatieri’s ex-teammates.
Vinatieri celebrated by jogging off the sphere, pumping his fist like he had simply made the postseason for the primary time.
Not surprisingly, first-year coach Frank Reich, who as soon as performed in opposition to Vinatieri, requested his most skilled participant to present some perception to the playoff newbies.
“He simply stated, I’ve been in quite a lot of playoff conditions myself and also you’ve had just a few greater than me,” Vinatieri stated, describing the change. “Is there something that you simply suppose must be shared? I feel that’s fairly superior.”
He may have used his rings as props or punched in a spotlight reel displaying the 2 subject targets he made within the snow to jump-start the Patriots’ dynasty; the 2 Tremendous Bowl-winning kicks; or the 5 kicks he made in Baltimore to maintain the Colts’ 2006 title hopes alive.
As a substitute, Vinatieri delivered a easy message he discovered way back from Corridor of Fame coaches Invoice Parcells and Tony Dungy in addition to Invoice Belichick: For those who attempt to do an excessive amount of, your subsequent loss might be your final.
Particularly at Vinatieri’s age.
“There are not any ensures for any of us that there’s a subsequent day, a subsequent 12 months, something. I’ve form of all the time ready myself pondering that manner,” he stated. “There are not any ensures, and while you get to my age, you’re completely proper, your days are numbered.”
NOTES: Reich stated receiver Ryan Grant (toe) and defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis (knee) wouldn’t play Saturday. He does anticipate T.Y. Hilton (ankle), a four-time Professional Bowl receiver, and heart Ryan Kelly (stinger) to begin. … Indy re-signed cornerback Jalen Collins to the observe squad and launched defensive finish Anthony Winbush on Thursday.