FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With the Patriots preparing to host the Colts on Sunday, it marks another return to town for kicker Adam Vinatieri.
The topic was brought up to head coach Bill Belichick on Friday that it’s been seven years since Vinatieri’s departure, and the drafting of his replacement Stephen Gostkowski, and Belichick responded by saying he’s been fortunate to work with two “real good kickers” in his 13-year tenure.
Belichick was asked a few follow-up questions on Vinatieri and Gostkowski, and he praised both of them, before he was asked about the kicker position and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Belichick shared a strong opinion, and we’ll pass it along in Q&A form:
There is one kicker in the Hall of Fame (Jan Stenerud). Curious your opinion of the position and its importance in the game as it relates to the Hall of Fame.
“I think that’s a good question. I don’t know what Hall of Fame means. There are guys with great long careers [and] there are other guys with very short careers in the Hall of Fame. There are guys from championship teams. There are guys that hardly ever played on winning teams. There are guys with personal stats. There are guys I’d say with less personal stats, but maybe more championships or more longevity. I don’t know what the criteria is for the Hall of Fame. I’m not in any position, to be honest with you, so that’s something you’d have to ask the Hall of Fame committee or voters, or something like that. I don’t really know what the criteria is; I don’t know if it’s ever been defined. I don’t know if it’s a popularity contest, or it’s a political thing. I don’t know what it is.
“It’s hard for me to believe, that as great as this game is, that there are no punters and one kicker in the Hall of Fame. We can argue that they only play ‘x’ number of plays, and everybody else plays a different number of plays. They are still significant players at their position. But again, what the criteria is for them, I don’t know. I think you’d have to ask somebody … I have no idea. I look at the Hall of Fame, and they’re all … I’m not saying they’re not deserving. I’m just saying what one guy does, what another guy does, what their careers were relative to all the different things we talked about, I don’t see any consistency or ‘OK, they met these three criteria’ or ‘they need to meet 3 of the next 6 criteria’ or whatever it is. I don’t know. I don’t see that, so you’d have to talk to somebody who knows a lot more about that than I do. I don’t understand it.”
Just figured that at some point, when his career is over, someone will ask you ‘Is Adam Vinatieri a Hall of Famer?’
“He’s certainly one of the greatest kickers I’ve ever seen since I’ve been in the league . The longevity, the production, the performance in championships and big games, I mean, what more could he do? What more could he do? Go out there and play wide receiver and catch a bunch of passes? I don’t know; is that what he needs to do? I don’t know, what more could he do? I don’t know what more Dave Jennings could have done at his position, or Ray Guy, or guys like that. What else would they have had to do? Get a bunch of interceptions? We don’t judge quarterbacks on their rushing yardage, we don’t judge them on how many tackles they made, I don’t even know if we judge them on how many games they win. We judge them on a lot of their quarterback rating and stats, and running backs on rushing yardage. I don’t know, what’s a guy have to do if he excels at his position? Is that good enough? I don’t know. Like I said, you’d have to ask somebody that knows a lot more about it than I do, because I don’t understand what the criteria is.”