On Sunday, the New England Patriots held a ceremony to honor one of the greatest players to ever wear a Patriots jersey. Adam Vinatieri, who spent his entire 17-year NFL career with the Patriots, was given a Super Bowl ring to recognize his legacy as a player, a teammate, and a coach.

On Friday, January 31, the New England Patriots announced that they had officially retired #1 quarterback Tom Brady’s jersey number. In the press conference announcing the news, head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft were both asked about retiring other player’s numbers, and both Belichick and Kraft gave the same response: “Adam Vinatieri.”

Adam Vinatieri has become one of the most respected players in NFL history with his consistent wins. But after being paid to kick balls for nearly a quarter century, the legendary kicker finally announced his retirement on Wednesday. While Vinatieri officially ended his career, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft made powerful statements to honor a player who had a significant impact on the New England Patriots team many years ago.

Adam Vinatieri’s storied NFL career is finally over

. Talk about leaving in style. Instead of making an announcement on social media, Vinatieri informed the world of his retirement by appearing on The Pat McAfee Show Wednesday. With the announcement of his decision to quit football for good, the 48-year-old has officially closed the door on a career that has had some magical moments. After signing with the Patriots as a free agent, Vinatieri became a reliable weapon. Still, he has become one of the most beloved players in franchise history thanks to his performance in the postseason. The three-time Pro Bowler Award-winner made several key plays in the playoffs, including the decisive play in Super Bowl 36. Although Belichick decided to leave Vinatieri behind after the 2005 season, that hasn’t stopped the South Dakota native from finding success elsewhere. In fact, he passed on his talents to New England’s main rival at the time, the Indianapolis Colts. Vinatieri played 205 regular season games for AFC South from 2006-19. In that time, he completed 85.3 percent of his attempts, won his fourth Super Bowl ring and established his status as one of the greatest NFL players of all time. He played in 365 regular season games in 24 seasons before retiring.

Bill Belichick makes strong statements to honor Vinatieri

word-image-14394 word-image-14395 Patriots coach Bill Belichick shakes hands with Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri before the game at Lucas Oil Stadium. | Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images Although Vinatieri spent more time with the Colts, he will be remembered most for his heroics with the Patriots. After all, his right foot was the reason New England won three Super Bowls in four years at the beginning of the Tom Brady era. After the future Hall of Fame player officially hung up his baseball shoes, Belichick had strong words for the player who helped the Patriots build a dynasty. Adam Vinatieri is the best kicker of all time in the 2001 divisional playoffs, according to a statement on the team’s official website. His consistency, mental strength and work under pressure were legendary. I have been honored to coach Adam since 1996, when he was a rookie, and in some of the most special moments in Patriots and league history. Adam is one of that rare group of athletes whose professional accomplishments are never topped.

Robert Kraft on Patriots legend

Belichick was not the only member of the Patriots to praise Vinatieri. Kraft also issued a statement paying tribute to the team’s former kicker. Adam Vinatieri earned the respect of his teammates and Patriots fans in 1996 when he intercepted Herschel Walker from behind for a touchdown and made a save on a kick return, he said in a statement. Over the next decade, that respect and admiration grew with every kick and every decisive kick, especially his iconic 48-yard kick at the end of time in Super Bowl XXXVI. For Patriots fans, the thrill of that first Super Bowl championship will never be repeated. As memorable as Adam’s Super Bowl performance was, he will always be remembered in New England for the greatest field goal in NFL history, the 45-yard field goal that was the deciding factor against the Raiders. He’s retiring as the top scorer in NFL history, and I’m sure he’ll soon be honored as a Patriots player and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Without a doubt, Vinatieri deserves a place in the Hall of Fame. Given his contributions to the game and the incredible length of his career, he should be elected for the first time. As Belichick and Kraft expressed in their statements, Vinatieri is truly an all-time great. The fact that he became an NFL legend by kicking footballs for a living shows the importance of a relentless work ethic and commitment to excellence. Like Sportscasting on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @sportscasting19 . COMPARED TO: Bill Belichick still has a serious problem to solve, even after selecting the quarterback of the future

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