Being an NFL kicker can be a very pressure-filled job, and Roberto Aguayo is finding that out the hard way.
The most accurate kicker in NCAA history, Aguayo was drafted in the second round of this year’s draft when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers actually traded up to draft the Florida State prospect. Being drafted in the second round only adds to the pressure for Aguayo, and his start has been rough. He missed three kicks in the team’s first two preseason games and was heckled by some fans at practice last week, and so this past week he contacted former NFL kicker Ryan Longwell, former special teams coordinator Bill Miller, and a mental coach to help him deal with the pressure. The good news for Aguayo is that he seems to be improving, as he made all six of his kicks on Friday night (three field goals and three extra points).
Perhaps there’s no one more aware of the pressures of kicking in the NFL - and how to deal with it - than Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, who has earned a reputation in his career as the greatest clutch kicker in NFL history (and arguably the greatest kicker period). And if Aguayo wants to consult with Vinatieri, the veteran kicker is more than willing to help.
"He can give me a call anytime he wants to," Vinatieri told ESPN’s Mike Wells this week. "There’s a brotherhood with the specialists. There’s not many of them and we don’t get any respect, so we have to show a little respect for each other. We have to help each other out if we have the opportunity."
Vinatieri has played in 306 games during his career so far, making 503-of-598 field goal attempts (84.1%) and scoring 2,253 - ranking third all-time in career points scored and field goals made. He has made two Super Bowl-winning kicks, a game-winner in a blizzard in a playoff game, and countless other clutch kicks as well, being a part of four Super Bowl championship teams. But before all of that, he was almost cut in his rookie season for too many early misses. So he knows better than most the pressure of kicking in the NFL, learning from both positive and negative examples.
"This happens to a lot of players," Vinatieri told Wells about Aguayo struggling. "He was a fairly high draft choice. They’re going to give him a little bit more leeway with that, maybe. Sometimes you have to work through some things, and the mental side of kicking is definitely there. A lot of people can kick a ball a long way, but sometimes you get in a little funk and you work your way out of it. He wouldn’t have been drafted 59th if he wasn’t really, really good. I’m sure he’ll figure out."
It’s a very cool move for Vinatieri to offer his assistance to Roberto Aguayo whenever the Buccaneers kicker needs it, and the rookie would be wise to take Vinatieri up on the offer. Either way, it’s cool to see the Colts’ kicker trying to help out.