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Tom McMahon, speaks of Vinatieris singular f

Newly crowned champion Shane van Gisbergen has enjoyed the shortest of Supercars honeymoons, coming under fire from his former would-be boss Betty Klimenko the day after winning his maiden title. Scarpe Nike Air Max Prezzi Bassi .The trailblazing Klimenko was due to take on the contracted van Gisbergen at her Erebus team after assuming control in 2012 of the Stone Brothers Racing licence.The New Zealander instead walked with a cloud hovering over his motivations and an unconscionable conduct legal action settled out of court when he later joined Tekno Autosport.Klimenko, who transformed the team by converting the Falcons to Mercedes-AMGs, arrived at the conclusion that the Aucklander couldnt see past her gender.The crew was identical; the location was identical; the factory was identical. Even Ross Stone was still there, Klimenko told Speedcafe.com.Not going into manufacturers, there was one thing (different) that was not about the car and that was me - a woman.I find that to be insulting. I thought it was very, very wrong and very sexist of him because thats all I can think of.If he tells me its the manufacturer ... no one knew what those cars were going to do. They could have gone out and smashed every record - he didnt know. The only thing left was me.Reflecting on the saga last week, van Gisbergen said he had serious reservations about the new outfit, saying he would have rather have stayed on the couch than raced for the new team.He rejected Klimenkos claims outright as completely false.It was absolutely nothing to do with her. I just didnt believe in the program and the way it was going to run, he said.They (AMG) were sending everything over and no one was coming out (to Australia).In my eyes, it was a certainty (that it would struggle). It was definitely the right call (to leave).Klimenko made the allegations after reading the 27-year-olds reflections on the controversial move, which she believed went to her character and reputation.Im trying my hardest to integrate women into motorsport, she said.I do talks. I do everything else and, to have this young man come along and ruin all that with one article, is just not right. You cant do that.After running the elite German vehicles for three seasons without success, Klimenkos team switched to Holdens in 2016, managing just one podium - in Sundays final race in Sydney. Air Max Italia . Walcott is available for Saturdays home match against Southampton as Arsenal looks to extend its two-point lead at the top of the Premier League. The Gunners are currently the second highest scorers in the league but Wenger insists Walcott will add something extra to his team. Air Max Scontate . The team said Saturday that Lopez was hurt during its 121-120 overtime loss at Philadelphia on Friday. The Nets said they would issue another update next week after consultation with their doctors. http://www.scontateairmax.it/ . 24 Baylor in a Big 12 clash between teams trending in opposite directions. Andrew Wiggins made 10-of-12 from the foul line and scored 17 for Kansas (14-4, 5-0 Big 12), which capped a stretch of four straight games against ranked opponents unscathed. INDIANAPOLIS -- Adam Vinatieri is picking at his lunch-to-go in a carton with a plastic fork. He has a hell of a story to tell, if only he can fit it all in between the salad and the next team meeting bearing down on him. As he rubs the high-salt, low-pepper stubble stretched across his still youthful face, the NFLs oldest player wants you to know he started becoming a man as a very young boy.I was at the crossroads of my life, he says, when I was 7 years old.Adam Vinatieri would grow up to become pro footballs version of Mariano Rivera -- the greatest closer of all time. He would start his NFL career when Tom Brady was a redshirt freshman at Michigan and Peyton Manning was a junior at Tennessee. He would spend much of his NFL life playing with both and working for the best of the coaching best in Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Tony Dungy and Pete Carroll.But as he closes hard on his 44th birthday later this month, Vinatieri says the coach who might have been his biggest difference-maker is a teacher, Marcy Farrand, who spent 30 years at Wilson Elementary in Rapid City, South Dakota, in the shadow of the Black Hills. Young Adam had a learning disability -- he had trouble reading and spelling, and all these years later he can still hear an adult voice calling out, Hey, everybody, its time for reading. Oh, Adam, youre going to go to this other classroom.Vinatieri winces over the memory. I hated that, he said. It drove me crazy. He caught a break when he landed in Farrands special-ed classes in fourth, fifth and sixth grades. God bless her, I love her to death, Vinatieri said. She made me understand, This is going to be a challenge for you. At that point it was like I can accept this, and Im never going to amount to anything, and Im just going to get a B.S. job, and youre going to be unhappy. Or, hey, you know what, youre going to work twice as hard, and youre going to overcome this.Now retired, Farrand remembers Adam as an eager and intelligent boy who excelled in math. She found him to be typical of smart kids with learning disabilities; theyre often frustrated by the failure to grasp something they know they should be able to grasp. Mostly what I did with all kids, Farrand says, is we found what they were good at and we talked about it, and then talked about how to use that to help them with things they struggled with.Farrand recalls Adams standing among younger special-ed students as a kind and engaging leader they tried to emulate. Adam would bring in cards to Farrand thanking her for her patience and time. He would later end up in science classes taught by Farrands husband, Mark, at Rapid Citys Central High School, where Adam was an honor student and star athlete who earned admission to West Point.I had great grades, Vinatieri says. Why? Because I studied twice as long and twice as hard as everybody else. ... I had to learn [in elementary school] that you just out-effort everybody else and youre going to be successful. And I think, as silly as that sounds at that early of an age, that helped develop me into who I was.Who is Adam Matthew Vinatieri, kicker, husband and father of three? Farrand might be the coach with an answer that Belichick, Parcells, Dungy, Carroll and Chuck Pagano wont find in their playbooks. She says children with learning disabilities often grow into achievers and conquerors.When people who have had everything come easy to them hit a roadblock, Farrand says, sometimes they dont know how to deal with it. But when young kids struggle and overcome it, that builds natural confidence. Kids see that when they stuck with something they could figure it out and do it. Adam learned that early on. I think that served him well in everything he tackled.And he had to tackle a lot more than Herschel Walker on his long and improbable journey toward Canton.I kind of like who I amAdam Vinatieri arrived at the United States Military Academy in the summer of 1991 as a model plebe. Hed graduated near the top of his Central class, and, among other things, hed been a standout kicker, wrestler, pole vaulter and option quarterback. Kim Nelson, Centrals football coach, remembers the 6-foot Vinatieri as a prospect who wasnt a big enough or strong enough passer to attract major college interest.But Adam was a very good runner, Nelson says. We had a game in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, where he ran the option as good as you could ever run it. I used to pull out that old VHS tape many times to show younger quarterbacks how to run it. Adam had confidence. He wanted the ball, and he wanted to be the guy in charge.Vinatieri applied to all the military academies, in part because he was inspired by the movie Top Gun. West Point seemed to be a proper familial fit -- Adams great-great grandfather, Felix Vinatieri, was the bandmaster for a West Point graduate named George Custer who, thankfully, did not charge his musicians to engage in battle at Little Bighorn.Adam didnt last three weeks in Delta Company. His superiors would concede they were assigning 24 hours of work to be completed in 18 hours, and Vinatieri was too strong-minded to prioritize the tasks and sacrifice the less urgent ones to keep up. He could still get a perfect score on a test, but he needed more time to study for it than your average plebe.I started to fall behind in all my stuff, he recalls. So instead of putting me in a study hall ... I would have to walk the yard. You would go out there while everybody else is polishing their boots and learning their stuff, and Im out there marching for an hour as punishment because Im not caught up.Vinatieri was already lost in a downward spiral when he found himself in a large auditorium listening to Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who asked each cadet to look to his or her right, and then to his or her left, before assuring his audience that two out of every three members wouldnt make it to graduation. But the more profound speech, to Vinatieri, came from an officer around the same time. The man sat down the plebes in a courtyard area and reminded them that they were all at West Point for a reason, that the academy only accepts winners.You guys are all going to be successful in life, the man said, no matter if its here or anywhere else.Thats when it hit Vinatieri. He understood that military academies broke down people before shaping them into warriors. But I kind of like who I am, Vinatieri told himself. Im not sure I want to give up my individuality at this point. Ive worked my butt off to become who I am, and now youre trying to tear it down.He returned to Rapid City and found an older brother who was angrier than any commanding officer might be 1,700 miles to the east. Adam idolized Chad, a superior athlete, and Chad couldnt believe his kid brother was already back home. The Vinatieris dont quit anything, never mind the United States Military Academy.You had an opportunity that none of the rest of us ever had, Chad told him. Im not smart enough. Im not good enough to be there, and you were. And you just pissed it away.Adam absorbed the withering critique from his big brother and stood his ground. Ive proven everybody else wrong all these years, he told himself. Ill prove [everybody] wrong again.The kicker has what it takesEveryone knows the unlikely story of how Brady ended up playing for Belichick -- he had an uneven career at Michigan, nearly transferred, struggled for years to fully win the faith of his head coach (Lloyd Carr) and ultimately was selected by the Patriots 199th overall in the 2000 draft. So here goes the unlikely story of how Vinatieri ended up playing for Parcells.The kicker returned from West Point and called up South Dakota State, a Division II program that had offered him an 80 percent scholarship out of high school. Mike Daly, the coach, could offer Vinatieri only 50 percent on the rebound, and the kid had little choice but to take it.Vinatieri kicked and punted better than anyone in his conference and then grew unhappy when Daly bumped his scholarship to only 55 percent. He nearly transferred to Wyoming for the experience of playing Division I ball and the chance to earn a full ride. And I was really disappointed to hear that, Daly recalls.They had a heart-to-heart, and Vinatieri decided to stay, but soon enough the kicker had missed enough field goals to compel Daly to bench him in favor of a lineman who had won a tryout for the job. The lineman would miss as many as the kicker did, Vinatieri regained his job and his stroke, and then Daly and his assistant, Trent Baalke, now the San Francisco 49ers general manager, tried to persuade NFL teams to take a shot on Vinatieri in the summer of 1995. Daly called a friend and a South Dakota State grad, Brad Seely, then the special-teams coach with the Carolina Panthers, and he took a pass. The same Brad Seely who would win three Super Bowls with Vinatieri in his next stop.Vinatieri fielded a suggestion from Brian Hansen, an NFL punter out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to contact a kicking coach in Abingdon, Virginia, Doug Blevins, who had just gotten hired by the NFLs World League. Vinatieri kept calling the coach until he agreed to look at his tape, and on film Blevins saw the requisite leg speed and strength of a pro. He remembers meeting his new student at the airport in the fall of 95 and seeing a shocked look on his face; Blevins was born with cerebral palsy and effectively lived in his wheelchair.Blevins fell in love with football as a child and always wanted to coach a game he couldnt play. I see things at full speed, he says, that most people cant see on tape. He saw Vinatieri opening up his shoulders on kickoffs and failing to properly mark off his steps on field goals. Adam drove his pickup 1,500 miles to live near Blevins and to practice under him at the local high school, where they ended workouts with Vinatieri launching fantasy kicks to win the Super Bowl. Adam waited tables and tended bar at Abingdons Martha Washington Inn when he wasnt sharpening his technique or shoveling Blevins car out of the snow. A good human being, the coach calls him.Blevins placed Vinatieri overseas with the Amsterdam Admirals in the spring of 96. Adam showed off his refined right leg and impressed an Amsterdam assistant, Al Tanara, who had been a staffmate with the Patriots coach, Parcells, at Texas Tech. Tanara and Mike Sweatman, New Englands special-teams coach, advised Parcells to sign Vinatieri to compete with 17-year veteran Matt Bahr, who had not only kicked five field goals for Parcells Giants to beat the Joe Montana-Jerry Rice 49ers in the epic 1990 NFC Championship Game in Candlestick Park but had also assured Parcells the following week in the Super Bowl that Scott Norwood would do exactly what he did on his fateful 47-yarder -- push it wide right.So Bahr was a Parcells favorite. He was also 40 years old. On the night before a preseason game, Parcells pulled aside Vinatieri and told him he would take every kick the next day. Im going to see if youve got what it takes, Vinatieri recalls his coach telling him, or if youre going to pack up your s--- and get out of here.Pack up your s--- and get out of here? I dont remember saying that to Adam, Parcells claims, but it sure sounds like something I wouldve said.Vinatieri won the competition and then won something just as valuable when he ran down the Cowboys Herschel Walker on a kickoff return late that season. Parcells told Vinatieri the Walker tackle would change things for him in the locker room. No more would any 300-pound teammate or opponent look at this relatively small man, this soccer player in pads, and see anything but an honest-to-god football player.Super Bowl nostalgiaPeople forever talk about the Tuck Rule kick in a blizzard to beat Oakland in the playoffs 15 years ago, and the field goal to upset the heavily favored Rams in the Super Bowl two weeks later. It makes perfect sense, too. The 45-yarder against the Raiders tto force overtime -- with Vinatieri navigating his way through five inches of snow -- has to be the most difficult attempt anyone has converted with a season on the line. Scarpe Air Max Outlet. It breathed life into a dynasty-to-be and ultimately allowed Vinatieri to take the field against the Rams for the final Super Bowl play -- with some 90 million watching him line up from 48 yards out -- and block out every extraneous sight and sound.It felt like the movies, Vinatieri says, when you see a pitcher on the mound, and everything calms down and gets quiet.He threw a strike down the middle, Coach Blevins started crying in front of a sports bar TV in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Belichicks and Bradys were born. Vinatieri told Blevins by phone that night he pulled up his head quickly on the kick because that was one ball in flight he positively had to watch. By the time Vinatieri confronted his next make-or-break Super Bowl field goal in Houston two years later, against the Panthers, most of the suspense was gone.But that 41-yarder in Reliant Stadium said a lot more about Vinatieri than most people knew. He missed a 31-yarder early in that Super Bowl, and then a 36-yarder was blocked in the second quarter. As the kicker approached the potential game-winner in the final seconds, he knew his 38-year-old long-snapper, Brian Kinchen, had spent most of that week unraveling before Belichicks eyes, launching balls high and bouncing them in the grass. Kinchen hadnt played in three years when the Patriots summoned him out of retirement late in that 2003 season, and suddenly his attempts to snap the ball to holder Ken Walter started looking like Chuck Knoblauchs old throws from second base to first.Kinchens case of the yips had started in the first playoff victory over Tennessee and had become severe enough to compel him to call Patriots GM Scott Pioli four nights before the Super Bowl and ask for his release. I feel like Im going to ruin this for everybody, Kinchen told the GM. Pioli and Belichick decided against cutting him. Overcome by anxiety, Kinchen would put on his entire uniform in his hotel room at night, bend over near his door and snap a football 40 or 50 times into pillows tucked beneath his window. Nothing worked.Kinchen bounced a Super Bowl snap that Walter successfully scooped on a punt, and he bounced another one that Walter fielded and put down for a Vinatieri extra point. Kinchen saw Vinatieri drop his chin and shake his head and thought about the earlier field goal miss and field goal block. Adam screwed up, Kinchen recalls, because of me.Belichick moved quickly down the sideline and got all over his snapper. Brian, he said, you do realize this is the Super Bowl? You do know youre not doing the job we hired you to do?Kinchen turned the second half into a personal prayer vigil that it wouldnt come down to a field goal. Of course, it came down to a field goal. In the huddle during those closing moments, after Carolina called timeout, Kinchen thought about Bill Buckner and Trey Junkin, who was called out of retirement by the 2002 Giants before ending their season on a botched playoff snap in San Francisco.Vinatieri had to deal with this oil spill. All kickers rely on a smooth operation between long-snapper and holder, and when that trust is broken, bad things happen. But Vinatieri knew as long as Kinchen sent anything remotely catchable, Walter would gather it, and then he would handle the rest. Watching across the field, unaware of the drama playing out in the Patriots huddle, Carolina receiver Ricky Proehl felt sick over what was about to go down. Hed scored the tying touchdown for the Rams two years earlier, before Vinatieris winner, and hed just scored the tying touchdown for the Panthers.On TV screens everywhere, CBS put up a graphic stating that Vinatieri had missed only four indoor field goals in 35 career attempts, but all four were in Reliant Stadium. It didnt matter. Hes not going to miss, Proehl told himself. Games over. This is what he does.Remembering Junkins tentative delivery into infamy, Kinchen decided to fire his snap with a vengeance. He hit his target, and so did Vinatieri. Kinchen scanned the field for a yellow flag that wasnt there, then let loose a primal, vein-popping scream. The snapper shouted an I-told-you-so at a smiling, nodding Belichick on the victory podium, then retreated back into retirement.Vinatieri? He scored the decisive points again in Belichicks third Super Bowl victory the following year and then shocked the world by beating the coach in the race to No. 4.From Patriot to ColtAdam Vinatieri wanted the five years and $12 million the Colts were offering him in free agency after the 2005 season, and the Patriots wanted him to take something less than that. Blevins says he talked to Vinatieri about the value of staying in New England and someday retiring with Brady as one-uniform icons, but that his former student, at 32, was insistent on taking the long-term security.He changed agents as he sought to nail down a deal. Over the years, the Patriots have made a cottage industry out of moving on from star players who either made or wanted to make a dollar or two more than the team thought they were worth, and as much as he loved being a Patriot and working with Belichick and Brady, Vinatieri said he was tired of working under the franchises terms. He recalls thinking, Youve rented me enough. ... Im 32 years old. Ive got plenty of years left. Ive helped you win Super Bowls. Just give me whats fair.Maybe the Patriots felt the Vinatieris emotional attachment to the region would carry the day. But Adam did not give Belichick a chance to match the Colts offer, and his wife, Valerie, shed a few tears over the move. To some, this seemed like a bigger gamble than the one taken by Vinatieris third cousin, Evel Knievel, when he tried (and failed) to rocket himself across the Snake River Canyon. Vinatieri signed on to replace the leagues most accurate leg, Mike Vanderjagt, whose miss at the end of the divisional playoff game against Pittsburgh had just cost Indianapolis its season. The Colts had been eliminated by New England in their 2003 and 2004 championship seasons, and they were paying Vinatieri for one specific reason:To add a piece of that big-game aura and belief required to get Peyton Manning and Dungy a desperately needed ring.Sure enough, the Patriots and Colts met again after the 2006 season, and, sure enough, Vinatieri had landed Indianapolis in that matchup by going 5-for-5 at Baltimore in the divisional round. In the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots carried a 21-6 lead into halftime. Vinatieri had gone 2-for-2 in the first half, and that stat meant nothing to him. I remember kind of losing my cool in the locker room, he said. Yelling. Just yelling, You guys thought it was going to be easy. ... I was just saying, Lets go. Lets get our heads out of our butts and do this.Im pretty low-key and quiet, but I wanted to win that game badly.To a man, the Colts say that game felt like the Super Bowl more than their eventual Super Bowl triumph over Chicago did. Indianapolis stormed back in the second half, and Vinatieri made it 31-31 on a 36-yarder with 5:31 left, setting up the winning touchdown drive to come. When it was over, the focus remained on Manning, who had finally beaten Brady in a big game, and on Dungy, who had finally beaten Belichick in a big game.But Vinatieri had proved his own point. I think everybody in this town needed it for their own reasons, he says. My reasons may be different than their reasons, but we all had to beat New England.On the field, Belichick told Vinatieri he was glad the Colts were going to the Super Bowl if the Patriots could not. Go win this thing, he told the kicker.I thought that was really cool, Vinatieri says. Belichicks Patriots would eliminate Vinatieris Colts after the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and Belichick would win a fourth ring of his own. The race is back on now. Each man burns for that one for his thumb.Most competitive person Ive ever met?Adam Vinatieri is wearing a blue Colts cap and a shirt designed to show off the arms of a linebacker, not a kicker. He has just finished practice at the team facility under a restorative mid-November sun, and its clear that age has done nothing to temper his competitive rage.His snapper, Matt Overton, talks about the crossbar games they play on Fridays with the holder, Pat McAfee, and the coaches and how badly Vinatieri tries to hit the crossbar with his throws more often than his opponents. McAfee -- a punter who, like Vinatieri, projects the muscular vibe of a football player, not a specialist -- talks of the time the kicker was grinding in a charity golf event while outdoing a couple of PGA Tour pros with a 217-yard hybrid shot into the facilitys island green.Vinatieri makes a habit of carrying himself with dignity and grace. But deep inside, McAfee says, [Adam] is the most competitive person Ive ever met in my life.Vinatieri says he treats minicamp practices in the spring as if they are playoff-time practices in January, and that he tells his place-kicking nephews -- including one, Chase, who plays at South Dakota State -- they should never cheat the opportunities before them. Dont ever step on the field, Uncle Adam tells them, and half-ass it.Colts QB Andrew Luck says he has learned so much from Vinatieris relentless consistency in approach, the seriousness with which he attacks every drill, every session, every day. The kicker doesnt speak before the team much, Luck says, but when he does its a very succinct and powerful message. ... Hes probably old enough to be a lot of our fathers, but he does an amazing job of being a big part of the fabric of our locker room. I dont think I truly appreciate him enough. I dont think any of us will truly appreciate how special he is until after hes done playing.And the only NFL player ever to score at least 1,000 points for two franchises still has some work to do. To his records of 44 consecutive made field goals (ended last month against Tennessee) and 234 career postseason points, he wants to add the leagues all-time regular-season scoring record -- he needs 188 points to pass Morten Andersens total of 2,544.If Im fortunate enough to play two more years after this, Vinatieri says, and I could potentially get the record, I think Ill bow out at that point. I dont have any aspirations to play until Im 50 years old.The Hall of Fame is a death-and-taxes lock; the only question is whether fans will remember Vinatieri more as a Patriot or a Colt. Its hard to believe he has played longer in Indianapolis (11 seasons) than he did in Foxborough (10), but dome kicking has helped him stay young. Vinatieri has made 23 of 26 field goal attempts this season, for an efficiency rate of 88.5 percent, giving him a chance to complete a third straight year at north of 90 percent.Funny how it has all worked out. He grew up wanting to be Dan Marino?and ended up in an NFL locker room with teammates from a different generation calling him the place-kicking GOAT -- greatest of all time. Vinatieri has participated in more victories (219) than any NFL player dead or alive.How did it happen? His special-teams coach, Tom McMahon, speaks of Vinatieris singular focus on his foot and the ball, his explosive trajectory, and his running battle with the word cant.Above all else, McMahon says, Adam is very comfortable with himself. I think all of us find ourselves eventually. I think he found himself at a young age.At an elementary school age, to be exact. Vinatieri learned from his first winning coach, Marcy Farrand, how to beat the odds and effectively become a man as a boy. Thats why he has lasted 21 seasons in the NFL. 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