Ward: Adam Vinatieri should have retired last year
Jimmy Ward | Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Let me start by saying I am a Colts fan, a huge Colts fan. I was born in 1999, just when Peyton Manning was starting to take the league by storm. I have lived just outside of Indianapolis my whole life. I have plenty of Colts memorabilia at home, including — much to the dismay of many who will see this article — a signed Jim Harbaugh jersey. So with that out of the way, I am called to address something that has been on every Colts fan’s mind since the beginning of this season.
Colts veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri came into the 2019-20 season as the all-time leading points scorer in the history of the NFL. You would think that at the ripe age of 46 years old, the four-time Super Bowl champion and arguably one of the most clutch kickers in NFL history had achieved everything an NFL kicker could possibly dream of achieving. 2,547 points was not enough for Vinatieri, though.
He would push ahead and attempt to complete his 24th NFL season. All was well in Indianapolis; Vinatieri was like the city’s grandfather. Things would start to get dicey as the start of the new season began though, when the Colts fell to the Chargers 24-30. In 13 of his previous 23 seasons, Vinatieri had a 100% extra point percentage, and never posted one below 91.4%. When the Colts finally got on the board in the second quarter against the Chargers, Vinatieri would miss the extra point — a rare occurrence, but nothing to lose sleep over at the time. The worries would start to set in for Colts fan when down the stretch Vinatieri would miss field goals, one of which was in the fourth quarter — from just 29 yards. The two missed field goals and the extra point would cost the Colts the game. But following the situation, Vinatieri was adamant he was still not considering retirement. Having grown to admire Vinatieri throughout his lengthy spell with the Colts, the fanbase stood behind his decision.
The gravity of the situation would be on full display in week two, when the Colts would slip past the Tennessee Titans 19-17. The irregular score was thanks to Vinatieri, who missed two out of three of his extra point attempts. Vinatieri would finally pick up his slack in weeks three through seven, hitting all of his kicks save a 57-yarder against the Raiders. However, Vinatieri would be back to his antics again in week eight against the Broncos. The rare Adam Vinatieri-missed-extra-points were now becoming something that haunted Colts fans everywhere, especially considering the matchup with Denver was just four days away from Halloween. The Colts would just barely beat the Broncos 15-13. Vinatieri would miss a 45-yarder on the opening drive and would miss his fourth extra point of the season in the third quarter.
In week nine against the Steelers, starting Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett would go down with a knee injury and Brian Hoyer would come in clutch, throwing 17 of 26 for 168 yards and three touchdowns. But Vinatieri would spike the blood pressure of Colts fans all throughout Indianapolis when he missed yet another extra point late in the second quarter, after the Steelers would be credited with a block when Vinatieri sent the ball straight into the reach of the defensive line. Then with just over a minute remaining in the fourth, Vinatieri would be sent onto the field to attempt a 43-yard field goal that would have put the Colts up 27-26 — and would put them in a prime position to win the game. Instead, the infamously clutch Vinatieri would send the ball into the third row of Heinz Field. Though the laces were facing out, I have never seen him miss a kick that badly in my life. The Colts would lose 24-26.
This week the Colts lost to the Miami Dolphins. Yes, the Miami Dolphins came into Lucas Oil Stadium and improved to 2-7 on the season. Can you tell where this is going yet? Vinatieri missed his sixth extra point of the season in the fourth quarter, when the Colts were without their starting quarterback.
When teams start losing, it is easy to blame the quarterback. But Hoyer hasn’t started a game since 2017. Although he threw the game-losing interception on the Colts final drive and Vinatieri making his extra point wouldn’t have made any difference in the final outcome, it is not necessarily good for morale when your ‘veteran’ kicker is missing extra points in crunch time. Not to mention blame can be placed on him on three of the four loses on the Colts season.
Ideally, Vinatieri would have retired at the end of last season, on top of the world as the leading scorer in NFL history. Instead, Vinatieri has become a liability for the Colts organization and it is appalling that Colts owner Jim Irsay was so content with letting Peyton Manning go, but is still holding on to his 46-year-old kicker. Remember a few weeks back when, with a healthy Jacoby Brissett and Vinatieri hitting his kicks, the Indianapolis Colts came into Kansas City and beat Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs? The Colts are not a bad team, but they are plagued with bad management. The best solution for Vinatieri and the Colts — if he doesn’t end up retiring in the middle of the season — would be for him to pull a Vontae Davis and retire in the middle of a game after inevitably missing yet another extra point.