INDIANAPOLIS | Adam Vinatieri lined up a Super Bowl kick and let it fly, straight through the yellow uprights. Several dozen fans surrounding the netted area applauded and cheered.
What did it win? A few smiles, nothing more.
That's how the kicker's long-awaited week is going.
One of the most successful kickers in Super Bowl history lost his chance for another title-game winner when the Colts fell apart this season. Instead of doing Super Bowl media interviews in downtown hotels on Wednesday, Vinatieri was down the street at the convention center, participating in an NFL Experience fan event.
"As much as I love the fans, this is a lot of fun but it doesn't compare to being on the field," he said, in an interview. "It was a tough year for us. We never really had a chance at the Super Bowl after halfway through the season. You miss it. You yearn for it, and you're thinking about it a lot, just reliving memories."
His best ones came with New England, which is playing the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. His 48-yarder as time expired beat St. Louis 20-17 in 2002. He also had a 41-yarder with 4 seconds left that beat Carolina 32-29 in the 2004 Super Bowl.
Vinatieri moved to Indianapolis as a free agent after the 2005 season and won another Super Bowl in 2007. He's been on four league champions and is the only kicker to appear in five Super Bowls — three with New England.
Now, New England could win another without him in the Colts' place.
"I've got a lot of friends that still play there, coaches there that I wish well," he said. "I want to see them do well. If they win, congratulations, I'm excited and happy for them. I'll watch with added interest."
Vinatieri is filling his time by interacting with fans. On Wednesday, he dressed in a No. 4 blue jersey for a league promotion tied to youth fitness. He had to make kicks off a tee that hit three signs attached to netting behind a regulation goal post — one in the upper left corner, one down the middle and one in the lower right corner.
The first two were easy — down the middle and upper left. He missed the sign in the lower right eight times, sending the ball a little too high most times.
"You kind of have to take something off it," he said. "If anybody golfs, it's like taking a half-swing to get it in that area. That's a hard one."
COMEDIAN BRADY: Tom Brady certainly didn't make any friends in Buffalo with his comments about the city's hotels during Wednesday's media session before the Super Bowl.
While explaining that his father has often traveled to see him play over the years, he dropped an unexpected zinger on the AFC East rival team's city.
"I don't know if you've ever been to the hotels in Buffalo, but they're not the nicest places in the world," the Patriots quarterback said, drawing some laughter.
After he left the podium, he was asked if Buffalo's hotels were the worst.
"It's a joke," he said, laughing. "Don't you go writing that and get me in trouble."
Too late, Tom.
RUNNING THEIR MOUTHS: The heads of the Boston and New York Marathon are getting into the betting action heading into Sunday's Super Bowl between the Giants and New England Patriots.
If the Patriots win, New York Road Runners president Mary Wittenberg will wear a Tom Brady jersey during the Boston Athletic Association 5K on April 15, the day before the Boston Marathon. If the Giants win, B.A.A. executive director Tom Grilk will wear an Eli Manning jersey during the 2012 NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K, on New York City Marathon weekend.
The two marathons are part of the World Marathon Major series, which awards a $500,000 bonus each year to the top man and woman competitors at the five most prestigious 26.2-mile races.
FOUR FOR FAULK? Kevin Faulk is going for his fourth Super Bowl ring on Sunday.
The 35-year-old running back has Super Bowl wins in 2002, 2004 and 2005. He's got one loss, in 2008 when the Giants beat the Patriots.
Faulk says this trip is as meaningful as his first.
"I don't care what Super Bowl it is, it's just excitement factor. Knowing where you are, knowing what you are about to get into, knowing what's at stake, knowing that's what you wanted to play for," Faulk said.
Faulk said he hasn't changed the way he prepares for a Super Bowl.
"Athletes are routine guys," he said. "It's hard to take an athlete out of his routine. Once you get into a daily routine, that's you."
Tom Brady, the quarterback in each Super Bowl trip, appreciates what Faulk has brought to the franchise. Faulk, finishing up his 13th season, is the Patriots leader in all-purpose yards with over 12,300. He has more than 3,500 yards rushing and 3,700 yards receiving.
"There are a few players that I think you can put into Kevin's category in terms of his contributions, his unselfishness and being a great teammate," Brady said. "Everybody loves Kevin, as they should."
Faulk excels as a pass catcher and a blocker.
"I think he's a Patriot type of player," Brady said. "He's tough, smart and he plays well under pressure. He's made some huge plays for us in our biggest games. It's great to have a guy like that in the backfield who understands what you're trying to do on every play."
Faulk's influence goes well beyond football.
"What Faulk has taught to us is just how to handle all the things that come along with this game," running back Stevan Ridley said. "From being on the field, off the field, film room, as far as where to pay the bills in the town, it's just everything. He's a valuable piece to have as part of our team, he really is."