As has been well documented, the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, Adam Vinatieri got off to an abysmal start to the season making only three of his first eight kicks. In the last few weeks, the veteran kicker has turned his season around going 14/15 on field goals and extra points. Vinatieri and the Colts say that fewer kicks during practice and a greater emphasis on rehab has sparked the turnaround, but I think there’s more too it.
For the majority of his career, Vinatieri has used a simple, “old-school” helmet. Going back to his days as a Patriot, Vinatieri has opted for the most basic of head protection. While wearing such helmets, Vinatieri amassed a hall of fame career and cemented his place as the greatest of all time. However, this season Vinatieri switched to a more modern helmet, the same model used by players like Colts Quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Immediately following the switch to the new helmet at the start of this season, Vinatieri hit rock bottom. The rough stretch he went through to start the season hindered the Colts’ ability to win in Los Angeles against the Chargers and kept the Week 2 matchup against the Titans closer than it should have been. In recent weeks, however, Vinatieri has returned to his roots and is back to using an “old-school” helmet and back to firing kicks straight through the uprights.
Was the helmet change definitely the reason the greatest kicker of all time struggled to start the season? Likely not, but the value of consistency and routine, especially at a position where mindset matters so much, changing something as simple as a helmet could have been the difference between being in or out of the NFL.