BOSTON (CBS) — The praise is pouring in for Adam Vinatieri after the kicker announced his retirement on Wednesday, including one of the highest compliment from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Vinatieri helped kicked the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles, booting game-winners in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII, as well as his two incredible kicks in the snow in the 2001 Divisional Round in Foxboro against the Oakland Raiders. His 45-yarder to force overtime and overtime winner against the Raiders kickstarted New England’s dynasty, and on Wednesday, Belichick called Vinatieri the greatest kicker of all-time.
“Adam Vinatieri is the greatest kicker of all-time who made the greatest kick of all-time in the 2001 divisional playoffs,” Belichick said in a statement. “His consistency, mental toughness and performance under pressure was legendary. I am honored to have coached Adam, going all the way back to his rookie year in 1996 and through some of the most special moments in Patriots and league history. Adam is in the rarest of echelon of athletes whose career accomplishments may never be matched.”
Patriots owner Robert Kraft also released a statement about Vinatieri, echoing Belichick’s sentiment.
“Adam Vinatieri earned the respect of his teammates and Patriots fans everywhere in 1996 when he caught Herschel Walker from behind for a touchdown-saving tackle on a kickoff return,” Kraft said in his statement. ” For the next 10 years, that respect and admiration grew with every clutch performance and game-winning kicks, especially his iconic 48-yard field goal as time expired in Super Bowl XXXVI. For Patriots fans, the feeling of that first Super Bowl championship will never be replicated.
“As memorable as Adam’s Super Bowl performances were, he will always be remembered in New England for the greatest field goal in NFL history — the game-tying 45-yarder in the Snow Bowl against the Raiders,” continued Kraft. “He retires as the NFL’s all-time leading scorer and I am certain will soon be celebrated as a Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer.”
Vinatieri will first be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2026.