"I forgive Adam Vinateri

I hate Adam Vinatieri. The man has played a sustained role in the shattering of my football dreams and potential betting fortunes for the past five years. His field goal kicking in the final seconds of important games was like watching an approaching tornado. Absolutely nothing could be done but hope it hooks left.

But it never did, never when it counted — never when I desired it so strongly. The immaculate swing of that odious foot brought three Super Bowl championships to the New England Patriots — to my eternal ire.

You can imagine my shock when I discovered free agent Adam Vinatieri was signed as an Indianapolis Colt over the summer. Was Bill Polian mad? It’s like hiring Dr. Strangelove, building nuclear weapons for the U.S. while still saluting the Third Reich. Vinatieri is an expert kicker, but where did his loyalties lie?

The Colts could be playing right into Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick’s dastardly scheme, trying to spy on a rival, gaining the upper hand or even implanting a saboteur on his strengthening opponent. I would never put such a ploy past Belichick. Behind that game day Patriots hoodie is NFL football’s Karl Rove.

Throughout this season, I have admired Vinatieri’s accuracy and clutch kicking, yet I still could not trust him. How can anyone so easily forgive five years of Vinatieri torture? He could hit field goal after field goal, bailing out the Colts’ offense when it struggled, giving a guaranteed three points when called, but I was never fully comfortable seeing that loathed No. 4 with a horseshoe on his helmet.

My begrudging forgiveness for Vinatieri began after the defensive quagmire that was the contest against the heavily favored and much hated Baltimore Ravens, a game decided far away from the end zones where Vinatieri was the only Colt who scored points — all 15 with his enchanted foot.

But the true test came with the AFC Championship game against the Colts’ storied adversary — and Vinatieri’s former team — the New England Patriots. I could see it clear as day: a last-second chip shot field goal to propel the Colts into the Super Bowl for the first time in nearly 40 years flagrantly hooked by Vinatieri. Then he removes his Colts jersey to reveal a Patriots AFC Champions T-shirt. The only sound heard in the shocked, silent RCA Dome would be Bill Belichick’s evil cackle as his plan came to fruition.

Vinatieri’s loyalties proved true as he struggled with the team in a mighty comeback effort and aided the victory. Vinatieri showed he was not a double agent working for Bill Belichick, but a loyal mercenary that provides his services to the team that offers him the most money. For that, I forgive him.

It’s a new year, and perhaps the time has come to let those pained bygones rest. I decided it would make little sense to hate an important part of the Colts as they make their bid for the NFL Championship in Miami. After this heated five years, I am formally ending my beef with Adam Vinatieri. n



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