More than just a place-kicker, remarkable clutch player Adam Matthew Vinatieri (1972-) was born on this day in Yankton, South Dakota. He played soccer at age five and developed a kicking style that served him well in football.
After graduating from South Dakota State, he played with the Amsterdam Admirals of the NFL Europe league. In 1996 he was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent.
A descendant of George Custer and cousin of Evel Knievel, Vinatieri once said: "I was always really competitive. That made me want to excel at what I was doing and made me a better athlete."
Described by USA Today writer Ian O'Connor as a kicker "who never chokes and whose range is measured in ZIP codes," Vinatieri comes through at the crucial moments of a game.
Calm and confident, he scored the winning points for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI, nailing a 48-yard field goal on the final play against the St. Louis Rams. Mr. Accuracy did it again two years later, kicking a winning three-pointer with four seconds left, this time against the winning points for the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
"Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are out there performing all the time," Vinatieri said. "As kickers, we're not out there much. Our teammates build the cake, and sometimes we're fortunate enough to put the icing on it."
"I've got the best seat in the house most of the game," he said. "Then I'm asked to help my team win."
Win or lose, particpate with passion.