Athletes decline as they age. So it’s a bit shocking to see that the NFL’s oldest player is having what may be his best season.
Adam Vinatieri, the Colts kicker who will turn 41 in three weeks and is the league’s oldest player by 11 months over Washington punter Sav Rocca, is kicking as well as he ever has. Maybe better than he ever has.
Vinatieri is well known for a few big field goals at important times in big games, but on a week-in, week-out basis, his statistics were relatively pedestrian during his time in New England. That’s particularly true on long field goals: In his 10 seasons as the Patriots’ kicker, he made only eight field goals of 50 or more yards, in 17 attempts. But in Indianapolis in the last couple of years, Vinatieri seems to have lengthened his range. Last year he went 4-for-7 on field goals of 50 yards or more, and this year he’s 4-for-6. He’s also 11-for-12 from 40 to 49 yards, which matches his best season ever with the Patriots.
And no, it’s not just because he plays his home games in a dome now and played outdoors in New England: Three of his four 50-plus-yard field goals this season have been outdoors on the road.
The Colts’ website makes the case that this is Vinatieri’s best year, and there’s a good case to be made for it. Every athlete declines with age eventually, but for Vinatieri, 40 isn’t old.