The No. 4 in New England isn’t just an ordinary Patriots jersey number — it belonged to the best kicker this league has ever seen and should be retired.
As a quarterback in the NFL, Jarrett Stidham has the option to choose any number between 1-19.
In New England, the No. 12 is certainly off the table … but why isn’t No. 4?
It’s not a reach to say that Adam Vinatieri is owed as much credit for New England’s dynasty as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are. Not only did he kick two walk-offs in Super Bowls 36 and 38, but he drilled two of the most iconic field goals in NFL history during the 2001 Divisional round win against Oakland — while in blizzard conditions, no less.
In Super Bowl 42, with 6:49 left in the third quarter, New England leads New York 7-3. Belichick sends the offense out on 4th &13 from the Giants’ 31-yard line. Brady snaps the ball, fires deep for Jabar Gaffney — incomplete, turnover on downs.
Stephen Gostkowski was a perfect nine-of-nine on extra points and eight-of-eight on field goals during the postseason of his rookie year in 2006. He scored 33 points, which is still the highest single postseason mark in his career.
However, it was the fact that Gostkowski was still unproven at that stage of his career that made Belichick question his mental toughness at such a key point in the game, leading him to trust Brady over Gostkowski on that 4th down play on the game’s greatest stage
Do you think Belichick sends Vinatieri out for a 48-yard field goal if he’s still on the team? I do.
The Patriots had become accustomed to winning Super Bowls by three points, but in their first Super Bowl after Vinatieri’s departure, they would end up losing by three points.
Adam Vinatieri is arguably the greatest kicker in NFL history
Vinatieri has a career field goal percentage of 84%, which is higher than Jan Stenerud (67%) and Morten Andersen (80%).
Who are Stenerud and Andersen? They are the only players who were used solely as placekickers to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame — and Stenerud is the only true placekicker to ever have his number (3) retired by one of his former teams (Kansas City).
Gino Cappelletti has his No. 20 retired in New England. Although he was used as the placekicker, it was his primary position as receiver that led him to his Hall of Fame career.
Throughout New England’s dynasty, there are at least three numbers that should one day be retired: No. 4, No. 12, and No. 87.
Vinatieri hasn’t retired from the NFL yet, so his number wouldn’t be retired until sometime after he hangs them up anyway. But seeing that Jarrett Stidham is currently wearing the No. 4 shows that New England has no intention of one day honoring Vinatieri by retiring his number.
It’s disappointing that the most clutch kicker in NFL history won’t receive the honor of having his number immortalized in New England Patriots lore.