Many people, even loyal Patriots fans, don’t know that the second longest tenured player after Tom Brady is none other than Stephen Gostkowski.
Gostkowski is about to enter his thirteenth season with the Patriots, and head coach Bill Belichick had some important things to say for that occasion.
Belichick pointed out just how fortunate he’s been to have a succession plan at kicker that’s resulted in decades of top tier play.
“Steve’s been great to work with. I think he showed an incredible amount of maturity and poise his rookie year. He came into probably as difficult a situation as any player that I’ve ever – rookie player – that I’ve brought on to a team with the expectations that were with him and, obviously, with what Adam [Vinatieri] had done before he was here.
“Steve’s been really consistent through all of these years. [He’s] a very hard worker, has earned the respect of his teammates, he does everything that the team does in terms of training and conditioning and so forth. He’s not on a special kicker program or anything like that. [He’s] very accountable, dependable, physically and mentally tough player.”
“I’ve been very fortunate here to have two of the best kickers that have ever played in the National Football League as the head coach here, so I feel very fortunate to have had Steve and Adam.”
Gostkowski’s level head approach of not getting too high or too low is what Belichick loves the most about him and finds inspirational for the rest of the players on the roster.
“He’s got a very professional attitude,” he said. “He’s a good teammate but he works hard at his job, to do his job well to help the team, and that’s really the motto for all of us – to be good teammates, but to do our jobs so everybody can count on us and put everything we have into it to be able to help the team. He certainly does that. Kickoffs – what we’ve asked him to do with kickoffs in the last couple of years. He’s worked very hard at it. He’s improved tremendously.
“He’s one of the top kickoff kickers in the league in terms of kickoffs, placement, distance. He can do a lot of different things with the ball and helps our team out in a lot of different ways besides just kicking field goals and extra points. He’s a very level-headed, even-keeled guy that’s matured and has gone from a rookie to now one of our most experienced players and one of our top leaders.”
With 1,613 and 340 field goals, Gostkowski is currently the Patriots’ all-time leader in points, ranking 18th on the NFL’s all-time scoring list entering this season.