Adam Vinatieri will go down in NFL history as arguably the greatest kicker of all-time, and it’s generally accepted that he will wind up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
That’s elite territory for a kicker, as only three kickers - and only one “pure” kicker - are in the Hall of Fame: George Blanda, Lou Groza, and Jan Stenerud. It is widely believed that Vinatieri will become the fourth at some point after he retires, and the only question would be how soon he gets in.
Hall of Fame voter and MMQB analyst Peter King wrote about Vinatieri’s candidacy in this week’s Monday Morning Quarterback article, and he wrote about how Vinatieri has made 77 of his last 80 kicks. Then King had this to say:
I’m not one to be a fanboy for Hall of Fame players before their time, but I cannot fathom a way Vinatieri will not make it into Canton the first time he’s eligible.
So what you have here is a Hall of Fame voter saying that he thinks Vinatieri will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, which would be deserved. He has played in 315 games and has made 522 of 617 field goals (84.6%), including 147 of 189 kicks from 40-49 yards out and 32 of 51 kicks from 50+ yards, while he has also made 766 of 779 extra point attempts. He ranks third in NFL history in field goals made, fourth in field goals attempted, 12th in field goal percentage (and eight of those ahead of him are still active), fifth in extra points made and attempted, and third in career points (2,334). He also ranks first in NFL history in playoff field goals made (56) and attempted (68), as well as career playoff points (234). He has been a part of four Super Bowl championship teams and has made it to six of them, and he has had two Super Bowl winning kicks in his career - plus a game-winner in the snow in a playoff game for the Patriots. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler, a three-time first-team All-Pro, and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team.
More recently, Vinatieri has been kicking at the highest level of his career. He is currently on an NFL record streak with 44 consecutive field goals made, and over the past three seasons he has made 74 of 77 kicks, also going 12 of 13 from 50+ yards. This year, he’s 19 of 19 on field goal attempts (which ranks as the eighth-most makes in the league), and he’s one of just two kickers to still be perfect on the year (along with Justin Tucker). He leads the NFL in 50+ yard field goals made (5) and among those kickers still perfect in extra points only one has made more than Vinatieri (who’s made 24).
Again, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Vinatieri will be in the Hall of Fame someday, and Peter King seems to think it will be in his first year of eligibility. But with Vinatieri kicking at such a high level right now at age 43, that could still be a while away.