January 22, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Team Irvin kicker Adam Vinatieri (4) of the Indianapolis Colts during the 2015 Pro Bowl practice at Luke Air Force Base. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The Indianapolis Colts Adam Vinatieri is arguably one of the NFL’s all-time greatest kickers. Having played 19 seasons in the league, the 42-year old Vinatieri has seen his fair share of “tough kicks”.
However, what happened on Sunday night at the Pro Bowl, was that field goal kicks were intentionally made tougher. In their version of an all-star game, the NFL elected to make the field goal uprights narrower by 4 feet and push extra points back to the 15-yard line.
The results were that Vinatieri clearly struggled, while other scoring rule changes were actually made to enhance offense with “no blitzing rules” and a mandated change of possession after every quarter. On the field goal changes, Vinatieri noted per ESPN.com:
"“This game was probably enjoyable for everybody, myself included, but a little bit more stressful for us kickers — I think everybody else not quite as much,” Vinatieri said. “But moving extra points back, moving the uprights closer, it’s a game-changer.”"
On the evening, with the newly implemented field goal changes, Vinatieri missed 2 extra points from 35-yards out, and a field goal from 38-yards. However, he was still able to add two made field goals to his kicking line for the game. His kicking counterpart, Cody Parkey, quipped that the league was clearly “picking on them”.
Regarding whether the rule changes should be used going forward into the NFL’s regular season, Vinatieri added that if the league decides to make it tougher on kickers, they need to make it tougher on everyone to be fair:
"“My answer to that is take the receiver gloves off the receivers and see how if they can make these amazing one-handed catches,” Vinatieri said. “Things might change. If we’re going to do it to make it harder on guys because they’re getting more accurate or more whatever, then maybe we should change a bunch of things.”"
As mentioned, Adam Vinatieri has only missed 10 extra points in his entire future Hall of Fame career, as he’s 710 for 720 (98.6%) in extra point attempts. Any rule change that causes him to miss 2 extra points in one game figures to drastically impact the success of the kicking position long-term.