Adam Vinatieri, one of the greatest kickers of all time and a four-time Super Bowl champion, joined Felger and Massarotti on radio row in New York City on Wednesday afternoon.
Though Vinatieri was wearing his Colts Super Bowl ring instead of one of his Patriots rings, Felger and Mazz let it slide.
“Honestly, wearing four rings is just too heavy, you know what I mean?” Vinatieri joked. “I was asked to wear one, and I figured I better wear my current one or I’d get myself in trouble.”
Fresh off his 41st birthday in December, Vinatieri still produced for the Colts last season. He successfully kicked 87.5 percent of his field-goal attempts, his best such mark since 2010. Now a free agent, Vinatieri is not ready to hang up his kicking shoes.
“I haven’t lost a lot of leg strength or any of that stuff,” Vinatieri said, referencing his six 50-plus-yard field goals last year. “If I can stay an asset and not a liability, I can keep on going. And I think I am.”
As for where his future may be, he said he’d love to stay in Indianapolis, but he’s keeping his options open.
Felger asked Vinatieri if the kicker ever finds satisfaction in the fact that the Patriots might have made a mistake by letting the kicker walk via free agency back in 2006.
“I don’t want to say satisfaction, because then it means I have animosity or anything like that, and I don’t,” Vinatieri said. “I’ve got nothing but respect and love for Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick and the whole staff there. … But when I look at it this way, yeah. I understand the Patriots’ philosophy — they let players go before they’re used up. That’s their philosophy. But for myself, I had gotten franchised a few times, and I just wanted a multi-year deal. I just wanted what was fair. I wanted a fair market, multi-year deal, and I got that in Indy.
“I said that if I leave New England, I’m not going to leave for a sub-par team; I’m going to leave for a great organization. And [the Colts] came calling and it was the right fit. I’ve got zero regrets. It worked out very well. I’ve got an extra Super Bowl victory with them, and played in another one.”
Still, the potential Hall of Famer said New England still holds a special place in his heart.
“When I go back to New England, it still holds a lot of special meaning for me,” Vinatieri said. “It’s very emotional when I go back there.”
Vinatieri also admitted that his feelings were hurt when Patriots fans booed him in recent years.
“I’m disappointed that sometimes the fans boo the crap out of me,” Vinatieri said. “Hopefully that’s in all good sportsmanship, I think. Most of the people didn’t do that. There were a few choice people. And it was a late evening game, so there was probably a little boozing going on. I think I get booed less each year now. Maybe that’s because a lot of the people don’t remember that I played for them at the time.”
However, Vinatieri isn’t holding any grudges.
“I still feel like there’s a very strong connection with [Patriots fans],” Vinatieri said. “I feel like when I’m done playing ball, I’ll come back to visit and do some stuff in New England. Hopefully I’m embraced with warm thoughts and stuff, because that’s the kind of feeling I have not only toward the team and the organization, but the fans and the community and everything there. There’s a lot of great memories there that will never ever go away.”
Tony Massarotti asked Vinatieri for his thoughts on Bill Belichick’s comments about Wes Welker, considering Vinatieri can provide unique perspective as a player who left Belichick and the Pats via free agency.
“Football is a very emotional game, and you’re dealing with very prideful people,” Vinatieri said. “I know looking back over all of those years, I’ve seen a lot of great players in New England — all the way back to Lawyer Milloy and some of those guys — that have left while they were in the prime of their career. And honestly, not many of them chose to leave on their will. It was more the other way around. ‘Hey, if you want to stay, play for half and we’ll keep you around.’ And other teams said, ‘You’re a great player, come on.’
“I think it’s just a respect thing. I think most guys don’t care if they’re the highest paid guys or even on the top of the lists. It’s just, do what’s fair. … When I left, I wanted more than just a two-year deal so I didn’t have to redo it again. I said hey, I can play another five or eight years. Give me a five-year deal.”