Adam Vinatieri has played so long that he now has Colts teammates born the same year he began his career. Vinatieri, 44, enters his 22nd season still going strong.
“Mentally, you’ve had a lot of experience, so you know what to expect,” Vinatieri said, via Kevin Bowen of the team website. “You’ve been in every situation out there. Physically is where it starts to change a bit. You have to work harder to stay lean. You have to work harder to keep your muscle. You have to sleep and eat all the right stuff. You can’t eat that cookie that’s sitting on the table that your kid left behind, or at least not very often.
“The physical demand I think gets much more difficult. The mental side of it relatively stays the same.”
Vinatieri, likely the next specialist inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has made 530 career field goals, third on the all-time list. He trails Morten Andersen by 35 field goals, and Vinatieri has made more than 31 field goals in a season only once in his career.
Vinatieri’s 2,378 career points also ranks third on the list, 166 behind all-time leader Andersen. Vinatieri’s career high is 141 points in a season.
Vinatieri, who is in a contract year, likely will have to extend his career to 2018 to become the NFL’s all-time leader in field goals and points. But Andersen was 47 in his final season of 2007, and Gary Anderson was 45 in his final season of 2004.
If Vinatieri continues kicking the way he did last season, he likely finds work in 2018. He made 27 of 31 field goals, with 17 of those from 40-plus.