His winter beard, white and unbridled, did not fail to cause talk during the Christmas season. Adam Vinatieri also presents a suspicious abdominal belt, but all that is finally his age. Playing in NFL (professional football league) a priori a little less. Especially at age 46, he is not there to make the number or liven up the cloakroom of the Indianapolis Colts. Vinatieri is a kicker, in other words, responsible for converting field goals and extra points, equivalents of the penalties and transformations of rugby. A crucial role – his kick can decide a part – but ungrateful, monomaniac and underpaid by standards.

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The kicker is not the one that spreads big on the posters. He is more often an unknown man who offers you tears (or a liberating euphoria for the other camp). The workforce is volatile: two failed shots in the same match and the door is waiting for you. Vinatieri, him, remains rather sheltered from this kind of misadventures.

Bowl of snow

Because we do not speak only of the oldest player of the League, but also of the best scorer of its history, title worn since the end of October. While waiting to enter the Hall of Fame, he intends to "put out of reach this record" (2,600 points scored before the second round of playoffs last night against Kansas City). This father of three, rather robust for a kicker (1.83 m, 96 kg), has the simple verb to explain its longevity: "I feel as much pleasure as when I started twenty-three years ago . " Some of his teammates were not yet born in his debut with the New England Patriots, franchise with which he won three Super Bowls (NFL finals) in a decade, two of which is decisive.

It's also in the jersey of the "Pats", but especially in a snowstorm, that he has managed the most memorable kick in history: 45 yards in the last second to snatch extra time against Oakland during 2002 playoffs before sealing the victory in a game renamed Snow Bowl. It's now 13 seasons with Indianapolis, picking up a fourth title in the process (only former partners Charles Haley and quarterback superback Tom Brady have one more). Author of the longest series of successful field goals (44, between 2015 and 2016), he remained this season in the top of the statistical basket: 85.2% success. His retirement? Still not programmed. Two more seasons and another record will fall, the one of the oldest player on NFL field.