Stephen Gostkowski explains how proving worth to Patriots teammates was more stressful than replacing Adam Vinatieri

Ryan Hannable
April 09, 2020 - 11:46 am
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Stephen Gostkowski's career with the Patriots did not begin easy.

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He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft out of Memphis and was tasked with replacing Adam Vinatieri, one of the greatest kickers in NFL history after he signed with the Colts as a free agent that offseason. 

But, when reflecting with NBC Sports Boston's Tom E. Curran this week, Gostkowski said replacing Vinatieri wasn't the hardest part of being a rookie on the Patriots.

“I was 21, 22 and I was dumb and young and naive. I honestly didn’t think that much it," he said. "I wasn’t going to let someone else’s success rain on my parade after I just got drafted. While my dream growing up was to play professional baseball, playing in the NFL is not a bad Plan B. I wasn’t going to let someone else’s storyline, or the pressure of that ruin my chance and my opportunity and dream.

“I guess looking back at it it was kind of annoying, but I didn’t think about it at the time. I wanted to prove to that team — I mean, I think it was more intimidating being on the team with guys that had already won and I hadn’t even done anything, and proving that you belong to be there and keeping your mouth shut. Pretty much as a rookie, just shut up, do your job and people give you crap, they mess with you.

"The Vrabels, the Bruschis, Brady — trying to prove to those guys that you’re worthy of stepping on the same field as them. That takes a long, long time to do. I was more worried about that aspect than what Adam had done. Good for him. If it weren’t for Adam, kickers wouldn’t get as much respect as we do today. I always looked at it as like a positive.”

Gostkowski also shared who gave the most crap.

“Vrabel for sure," he said. "He’s just really good at finding ways to get under your skin. He’s like Vince Vaughn. Brady was pretty good at it for awhile. Bruschi is a lot more tame with it. (Larry) Izzo, Lonnie Paxton would give crap all the time.

"But, when you’re around guys who have won and that have had success, you have to prove yourself. You can’t just show up and expect to be handed respect. That has to be earned. I just tried to shut up and do my job for as long as I could. And then once you prove you belong on the same field, then they start treating you as one of your own.”

The kicker leaves New England as all-time leading scorer.

Related: Stephen Gostkowski starting to feel better, will try to play in 2020