“Yeah, you will,” he said, cryptically.
Monday came and went, and neither Holder nor anyone else heard from Vinatieri, at 46 the NFL’s oldest player and the only active player who started his career in the 1990s. A retirement announcement wouldn’t have been that much of a surprise and not only because of his age — Vinatieri has missed seven of the past 11 attempts dating from last season’s playoff loss to the Chiefs, including four extra points — but it simply didn’t happen, with reports surfacing that Colts brass was trying to persuade him to stick around and finish his 24th season.
Vinatieri finally spoke up Tuesday to say that not only was he not retiring but that the prospect never actually crossed his mind despite his struggles (over the past five games, he’s missed seven kicks from inside the 35-yard line). He’s just trying to get past the “demons” in his head.
“I’m going to work a lot this week to get those demons [out] so I can go clearheaded, step on the field and just do my job,” Vinatieri told reporters.
“I think anybody that has had a bad game, or, I don’t know, I guess if you go out golfing and you hook a couple balls, are you thinking about it until you get it figured out?” he continued. “I’ll spend some time this week working those [demons] out.”
Vinatieri’s misses in Week 1 were especially costly, with an errant extra point and two missed field goals the difference in the Colts’ 30-24 overtime loss to the Chargers. So considering Vinatieri’s shaky accuracy and his apparent inner conflict over continuing his career, Indianapolis isn’t taking any chances. On Tuesday, the Colts worked out six free agent kickers: Elliott Fry, Cole Hedlund, Greg Joseph, Younghoe Koo, Chase McLaughlin and Cody Parkey.
According to Coach Frank Reich, who reiterated his support for Vinatieri on Monday by saying “Adam is our kicker,” those decisions are made by General Manager Chris Ballard.
“Chris handles that,’’ he said Monday. “To be honest with you, when we get in-season, Chris and I have this understanding. I am focused on the next opponent. As far as who we bring in to work out, Chris handles all of that."
Vinatieri has been in the NFL since 1996 and is the league’s career leader in points, postseason points, field goals, overtime field goals and games played. He has four Super Bowl rings and has made a number of memorable kicks, including the two snowbound field goals in an AFC playoff game against the Oakland Raiders in 2002 that helped propel the Patriots to their first Super Bowl title and two game-winners for New England in the Super Bowl itself. But there are bound to be slumps over such a long career, as well, and that’s what he seems to be amid at the moment.
“I think there’s always mental and physical aspects of football,” Vinatieri said. “I just haven’t been hitting the ball as well as I should be. Nothing is going to change this week as far as preparation and all that stuff. I’ve kicked a lot of balls over the years. I’m not reinventing the wheel. I’m going to go out there and just try to do it a little cleaner. I’ve been watching film and checking stuff out, seeing if there are little tweaks I can do to make a difference.”