Adam Vinatieri said he wishes he had surgery earlier to address the knee injury that forced the Indianapolis Colts to put him on the injured list, ending the legendary kicker's 24th NFL season.
"Hindsight, if I had a crystal ball, I would have gotten it fixed last offseason because we dealt with it last year as well to a little bit lesser degree," Vinatieri said Tuesday in an interview with ESPN. "Unfortunately, in the middle of training camp it came back and that's why we rested it in and took anti-inflams to try to get it under control."
Vinatieri, who turns 47 on Dec. 28, connected on a career-low 68.0 percent of his field goal attempts this season - down from 85.2 percent in 2019. And despite the drop in productivity, and the fact he'll be a free agent at the end of the league year, he told ESPN he hasn't discounted trying to return for a 25th season.
"I don't like how this year ended for me and I wish I could have done more to help the team," he said. "I'm going to rehab and bust my butt to get healthy and strong and we'll see where we're at. If May, June comes around and I feel good, I'm kicking a good ball, then we'll re-evaluate. If it's not there, it's not there. I understand everything ends at some point, but I'm not sure it's there now or not."
Vinatieri is set for the knee surgery on Wednesday, ESPN said.
Missed field goals cost the Colts two games this season - a Week 1 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and a Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Viniatieri leads the NFL with 14 missed kicks, eight of them field-goal attempts.
"I'm not making excuses for anything," Vinatieri said. "Anytime I'm on the field, I need to make every kick that's in front of me. But I do know technique-wise, the discomfort and pain in my knee was changing my technique and form. Unfortunately, I probably could have kicked better if my knee is feeling better."
Vinatieri missed his first game of the season last Sunday, and the Colts signed Chase McLaughlin to handle the kicking duties.
If he doesn't return, he will retire with four Super Bowl championships, as the league's all-time leading scorer with 2,673 points and a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame undoubtedly waiting for him.
Vinatieri has made 599 of 715 field goal attempts (83.8 percent) and 874 of 898 point-after attempts (97.3 percent) throughout his career, which began with the New England Patriots (1996-2005).
A three-time All-Pro, Vinatieri also is the NFL's all-time leader in field goals made and is second only to fellow kicker Morten Andersen in games played with 365.