Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is occasionally reminded of his age, and not just during contract negotiations.
Vinatieri, 41, who signed a two-year deal to return to the Colts on Tuesday, says he often feels like a “big brother” or even a “father figure” to some of his much younger teammates in the locker room.
“When the playoffs roll around, they're asking me questions about the playoffs,” Vinatieri said in a conference call Tuesday afternoon. “Being a player rep, if they have a question about a 401K or IRA, I'm the first person they run to. I've been around.
“It's amazing over the last 18 years how much the game has changed,” he said. “Every decade it changes a little bit. But I'm excited to be a part of this team and how it's maturing, watching some of these young guys reach their goals.”
In addition to Vinatieri, the Colts re-signed cornerback Vontae Davis, safety Sergio Brown and running back Ahmad Bradshaw and signed free agent defensive lineman Arthur Jones, who played last season with the Baltimore Ravens.
However, veteran safety Antoine Bethea reportedly signed a four-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers, leaving a hole in the Colts' defense.
Davis, who was originally acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins, was a top priority to bring back this season. Brown was a major impact player on special teams for he Colts last season. Bradshaw was a solid running back before a season-ending injury.
Jones, a 6-foot-3, 315-pound player who can play tackle or end, had a career-best 53 tackles last season. He played for Colts coach Chuck Pagano when Pagano was an assistant with the Ravens.
Vinatieri played 10 seasons with the New England Patriots before joining the Colts, where he has been the last eight seasons. While his deal is for two years, he's not ruling out the possibility he could continue kicking behind those seasons. He turns 42 in December.
He said his wife was a little stressed out over his contract negotiations, not wanting to uproot the family for another city. But while he and his agent received interest from other teams, his first choice was always to return to the Colts.
“They knew there was no other place I wanted to be,” Vinatieri said. “Assuming they wanted me here, I knew something could definitely get done.”
Despite 18 years in the league, Vinatieri is coming off one of his best seasons, when he hit 35 of 40 field-goal attempts, including four from 50 yards or longer.
He said age was a factor in the length of his deal, even though he believes he can play more than two more seasons.
“There were two things in this negotiation: productivity and age, obviously,” Vinatieri said. “Productivity speaks for itself. You can see what my productivity percentage is. The age factor, I'm sure you can deductively reason how that factored in.
“I realize I'm 41 years old, but I know in my heart and I believe in my ability to play these two and possibly even more.”
Vinatieri won three Super Bowls with the Patriots before helping the Colts to their only win in the 2006 season. Among the NFL records Vinatieri holds are most Super Bowl field goals (7), most playoff field goals (51) and most points scored in a single postseason (49 in 2006).
He is optimistic about helping the Colts to challenge for another Super Bowl trip.
“This is a special group of guys here,” he said. “Being here is a comfortable place to come to work and be productive. Other places may not feel the same way. Everybody has one mission and one goal.”