INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 28, 2016) – Among the list of Super Bowl luminaries – Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Franco Harris, Reggie White and so many others – one stands alone: Adam Vinatieri.
The veteran placekicker, who played a key role as the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts combined for four world championships, is the only unanimous selection on the Super Bowl 50 Golden Team announced Thursday. Vinatieri also is the only active player chosen.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s obviously an honor to be named for a prestigious award like this. It’s a blessing to say I’ve been able to play in so many Super Bowls and I’ve had some pretty memorable moments in a couple of them.
“As a player, you’re fortunate to be able to play in one Super Bowl. If you’re fortunate to play in four or five or six, I guess your name gets mentioned more.”
The Golden Team was selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Board of Selectors (we are a member) as part of the celebration of Super Bowl 50.
“The Super Bowl 50 Golden Team is an amazing list of incredible individuals,” said Pro Football Hall of Fame executive vice-president Joe Horrigan. “Each name conjures up memories of some of the sport’s greatest games showcased on its biggest platform, the Super Bowl stage.”
The Golden Team:
- Quarterback: Joe Montana
- Running backs: Franco Harris, Emmitt Smith
- Wide receivers: Jerry Rice, Lynn Swann
- Tight end: Jay Novacek
- Offensive tackles: Art Shell, Forrest Gregg
- Guards: Gene Upshaw, Larry Allen
- Center: Mike Webster
- Defensive ends: Reggie White, Charles Haley
- Interior linemen: Joe Greene, Randy White
- Outside linebackers: Lawrence Taylor, Jack Ham
- Inside linebackers: Jack Lambert, Ray Lewis
- Cornerbacks: Mel Blount, Deion Sanders
- Safeties: Ronnie Lott, Jake Scott
- Placekicker: Adam Vinatieri
- Punter: Ray Guy
- Return specialist: Desmond Howard
- Coach: Chuck Noll
Vinatieri has appeared in five Super Bowls – four with the Patriots and one with the Colts – which is tied for second-most in NFL history. He was injured and inactive when the Colts reached Super Bowl XLIV against the New Orleans Saints.
Vinatieri was an integral part as the Patriots won three world championships (Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX) and the Colts captured one (Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears).
His 48-yard field goal as time expired lifted the Patriots to a 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI and marked the first time a Super Bowl had been decided on the final play. In Super Bowl XXXVIII against Carolina after the 2003 season, Vinatieri’s 41-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining handed New England a 32-29 victory.
Vinatieri holds Super Bowl records with seven made field goals and 10 attempts. His 34 points are second to Rice’s 48.
At this time of year, as the Super Bowl nears, Vinatieri’s accomplishments in the NFL’s preeminent game inevitably reappear.
“This time on TV it’s always SportsCenter or NFL Network showing highlights of the playoffs or Super Bowls,” he said. “It might be going on in the background while you’re doing something and all of a sudden they mention something and you look over and sure enough, it’s one of the Super Bowls you played in.
“Maybe you’re smiling because you know you made a good play in that game.”
Vinatieri hasn’t gotten tired of seeing replays of his beat-the-clock 48-yarder against the Rams.
“No matter how many times I’ve seen it, it’s still fun to stop and watch that ball for through the uprights,” he said. “You make sure it goes through every time.
“You don’t live in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to remember the old times and the great moments.
“Winning a Super Bowl is like the birth of your child. It’s something that will stay with you forever. It’s something that ties you together with a group of men. It’s awesome. There’s a distinct connection with every guy that I’ve played with on those teams.”
That’s especially true regarding the Colts’ 2006 championship experience. Vinatieri signed with Indianapolis as a free agent during that offseason after appearing in four Super Bowls, and winning three, with the Patriots.
“They’re all exciting and they’re all fun, but the last one I won (with the Colts), I just remember that,” he said. “We had won three out of four years in New England, so I’m coming off the last handful of years in New England when we were pretty successful.
“Then getting to watch my new teammates and my brothers on the Colts team win their first one, and seeing the joy on everyone’s face . . . that was so much fun. I had been there, done that. That one was so awesome because my new family, my new organization was able to win that first one and seeing all those guys be a part of it for the first time was really special.
“I just sat back and soaked it all in, just watching guys go crazy and bounce around. It was like taking your 5-year-old to Disney World for the first time.”