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Parcells nearly booted Vinatieri out of Patriots history

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Adam Vinatieri will begin his 21st season later this year with a well-earned reputation as one of the greatest kickers in the history of the NFL.

If Bill Parcells had a touch less patience, Vinatieri's brilliant career -- and the Patriots' dynasty -- may have never gotten off the ground.

That according to WFAN radio host Mike Francesa, who on Monday shared a story of Vinatieri's rocky start in New England and a high-pressure challenge from Big Tuna.

Vinatieri got out of the gate very slowly as a rookie. In Week 2, he missed three field-goal attempts. The next week against the Cardinals, he failed on another field-goal attempt and missed an extra point. With seconds to play and the Patriots leading the Cardinals by a score of 28-0, a peeved Parcells sent Vinatieri back on the field to convert a 31-yard chip shot.

Parcells wasn't looking to run up the score. He needed to find out if he had to fire his kicker.

"I've had it with that kicker," Parcells said, according to Francesa. "If he had missed it I would have cut him. And I told him, 'You better make this kick' before I sent him out there. And he made the kick, and he gained confidence little by little, and look who he became."

Francesa shared the anecdote with former Grantland boss and noted Boston sports fan Bill Simmons, who was sitting in as a co-host on Francesa's eternally popular drive-time radio show.

"Wow, so that was actually the most important kick in Patriots history," Simmons remarked of the butterfly effect possibilities.

I wonder if Parcells shared this corker during a sitdown at Manny's ...

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