Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Another one bites the dust

So now, joining Willie McGinest and David Givens in what looks like a general exodus from Foxborough, Adam Vinatieri's gone. This is ... disappointing.

Certainly, as a Patriots fan, I'm sorry to see Adam go. He's been a very consistent player for the team for 10 years now. There was always a feeling that, if the game was on the line, the kick would get made. He's not been perfect, but in key situations, he's been close to it.

I think that you can easily make the argument that he made the greatest single kick in NFL history. In January of 2002, in the first round game against the Oakland Raiders, with the snow falling and the wind swirling, with the Patriots down 3 and out of timeouts and less than 2 minutes left, Vinatieri hit a 43 yard field goal that propelled the Patriots to their first Super Bowl victory.

He hit game-winning kicks in 2 different Super Bowls as time was running out. He hit a 40+ yard kick with a frozen ball against Tennessee in the play-offs in 2004. His record in domes and overtime is nearly perfect. He's been exactly what you want a kicker to be - nearly automatic.

Either the Patriots have decided that he's not worth what the Colts are going to give him, or Adam has decided that it's time for him to move on. Certainly, he's a celebrity in New England, with endorsements and extra income that are unlikely to be available in Indianapolis (or anywhere else.) He's got credibility and affection in the fan base here that he doesn't have anywhere else. The numbers on the contract are only rumors right now, but sounds like about $2.5 million per for the next 3 years, which, with the salary cap at $102 million, doesn't seem outlandish for a kicker as reliable as Adam's been. (Certainly, the Colts are familiar with what happens when you can't trust your kicker late in a game...)

As much as I don't like that he's gone, however, I still have enormous respect for, and trust in, Bill Belichick. Maybe this is a dreadful mistake, maybe they've screwed up big time. But maybe not. Certainly, there have been moves they made that upset the fans, and they've made decisions that didn't work out. But there have been far more hits than misses, and they've earned some slack on decisions like this.

And as long as Belichick's on the sideline, and Brady's in the huddle, they're going to be a very strong team...

Technorati tags: Vinatieri, Patriots, Colts, kicker



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