Vinatieri makes SDSU fans proud

Heather Mangan

Heather Mangan

It’s becoming a monotonous story – Adam Vinatieri wins the Super Bowl. Yet, South Dakotans can’t help but smile when the Midwest boy adds another ring to his collection.

He contributed three field goals and two extra points to the Indianapolis Colts’ 29-17 victory over the Chicago Bears in the 41st Super Bowl. The championship compliments the other three he earned with the New England Patriots in 2002, 2004 and 2005.

But before he was a Colt or a Pat, he was a Jackrabbit. Throughout his 11 years in the NFL, Vinatieri has become one of the most prolific SDSU alumni.

Dubbed the best pressure kicker in the NFL, Vinatieri helped the Pats win two of their Super Bowl titles (2002, 2004) with last-second, game-winning kicks.

He also holds the NFL record with 40 post-season field goals and ranks 5th in NFL history in field-goal percentage at 82.5 percent. And in the 41st Super Bowl, he broke the record for all-time Super Bowl field goals (7), points kicking (34) and field goal attempts (10).

So it’s easy for Jacks fans to beam with pride when Vinatieri is in the winner’s circle or breaks another record. Now some have discussed honoring him by retiring his SDSU number, 4.

On the forum, a few have commented that Vinatieri’s success deserves some type of SDSU recognition, such as retiring his number.

Yet, it’s not quite as easy as hosting a ceremony and keeping the jersey in a glass frame in the Athletic Department.

According to Sports Information Director Jason Hove, SDSU has never retired any athlete’s number, and that is a principle set three or four athletic directors ago.

The number has been assigned since Vinatieri’s stint at SDSU and is currently worn by junior wide receiver and punt returner Paul Aanonson. And taking out a number would limit the football team’s jersey possibilities.

Also, most of Vinatieri’s accomplishments happened in the NFL. At SDSU, his percentage was 50.9 percent. He even lost his kicking duties in 1993, his sophomore year, to an offensive lineman.

Hove said SDSU usually honors its successful athletes with an induction into the prestigious SDSU Hall of Fame.

Although sometimes halls of fame seem corny, getting into the SDSU Hall of Fame is quite prestigious.

Some athletes get into the South Dakota Hall of Fame before SDSU’s because the inductee has to have earned their degree from SDSU and have been removed from the system for 25 years. (They made an exception for NFL star Jim Langer when he was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.)

Vinatieri was a great athlete for SDSU, but others achieved more during their SDSU careers. The Athletic Department should recognize him, but not by retiring his number. So depending on which happens first – his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame or 2020, the 25th anniversary of his graduation – SDSU should follow up with an induction into the SDSU Hall of Fame.