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Celebrity Golfer:

Adam Vinatieri by Leigh MacKay

With a January blizzard in his face and ice water in his veins, Adam Vinatieri warmed the hearts of every Patriots’ fan at the 2001 Division Championship. His 45-yard field goal with 23 seconds left tied the Oakland Raiders at 1313. Then in OT, he gave a new meaning to his nickname “Iceman” when he notched the 23yard game winner. Two weeks later in the Superdome for XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams, Vinatieri ignited the souls of us all. With the game tied at 17-17, he kicked a 48-yard gem with no time on the clock, and we had won our first Super Bowl, 20-17. Two years later in XXXVIII in Houston, Vinatieri kept the flame burning by kicking a 41-yard field goal with four second left to beat the Carolina Panthers, 32-29. And the next year in Jacksonville, the Patriots didn’t need any last minute heroics from Vinatieri, just a routine field goal and three PATs, to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX. From 1996-2005, “Automatic Adam” kicked 18 game-winning field goals with less than oneminute remaining, including the postseason. In his 10 seasons, Vinatieri accrued 1,156 points and made his #4 a most popular Patriots jersey, right

up there with #12. After the 2005 season, the Pats did not place the “franchise tag” on Vinatieri, allowing him to become a free agent. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts and, along with Peyton Manning, won another Super Bowl in 2006. Originally from the Rapid City area of South Dakota, home of Mt. Rushmore, Vinatieri is now 43, the oldest active player in the NFL. He is an avid golfer and sportsman and is a member at The Preserve at Boulder Hills in Wyoming, Rhode Island, New England’s only four season sporting retreat. The golf course is an exceptional par-3 venue, and The Preserve 18 Tournament on September 26th, offers $1,000,000 for the first ace on each hole. Vinatieri has been married for 16 years to Valeri and has three children. OK, plenty of time left on the clock for the future Hall of Famer’s comments, and just like most of his field goal attempts, they’re good!

NEGM: How did you specialize as a placekicker in the first place? AV: I started playing Pop Warner football in the fifth grade as a quarterback and linebacker, but the coach asked if anyone wanted to be the kicker. I’d been playing soccer since I was five years old, so I said, “I’ll try.” I got the job and started to develop from there. Soon I was kicking more footballs than soccer balls.

NEGM: How did you pull off those three remarkable field goals in the 2001 playoffs?

AV: Being in the right place at the right time! The first one in the snow against Oakland was a crazy day with a lot of white stuff on the playing surface, a pretty heavy blizzard, the “Tuck Rule” play, and a Raiders team that had come to play. I was lucky I had the opportunity to tie the game up. I knew it was a low-percentage kick, but all I could think about was starting the ball on line and getting the ball above the line of scrimmage. Thank goodness it went through. Then when I had the opportunity on a shorter one to seal the

14 | | September / October 2016

September/October 2016  

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