Stephen Gostkowski is the leg of the New England Patriots, and has been since they selected him in the fourth round in 2006. Gostkowski has been to the Pro Bowl (2008) and was with the Patriots for their 2007 Super Bowl appearance against these same New York Giants. ProPlayerInsiders caught up with Gostkowski in Indianapolis as the Patriots prepared for the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Gostkowski has taken over the job from former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri, who left after the 2004 season to go to their arch-rival at the time, the Indianapolis Colts. Now Gostkowski and Patriots return to the Super Bowl in the home of their biggest rival over the past 10 years. “We played them every year,” Gostkowski said. “It’s a cool stadium and a cool place to be playing.”
Vinatieri built a name for himself with clutch kicks and Super Bowl success, hitting the game winners in two of the Patriots first three Super Bowl victories. Gostkowski hopes to shake off the ghosts of the 2007 loss and build his own Super Bowl legend this year. He actually has a better career FG percentage than his predecessor (Vinatieri has a very impressive lifetime 82.9 percent success rate compared to Gostkowski’s 84.4 percent), but Gostkowski hasn’t had the opportunity on the biggest stage. Yet.
ProPlayerInsiders (PPI): What did the Patriots learn from playing the Giants in Week 9?
Stephen Gostkowski (SG): It was a good game, and they came out on the winning side of it. Whenever you play a team a couple of times, it helps. It helps to know them better.
PPI: Did playing the Giants in Week 9 improved the Patriots confidence going into the Super Bowl?
SG: You are always confident going into a game, but you also need to be humble. You can’t go in to a game too confident.
PPI: How is does this Super Bowl compare to Super Bowl XLII, in which the Patriots played the Giants 4 years ago?
SG: Each year has its own challenges, with different injuries and different players on the team. The 2007 game was completely different. That was in Arizona, this is in Indianapolis.
Besides being the same opponent, it is a completely different game.
PPI: Is it special playing the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, home of one of New England’s biggest rivals over the years?
SG: We’ve played them every year, and most guys in the NFL have gone through the combine [which is held in Indianapolis]. It’s a cool stadium and it’s a cool place to be playing in the Super Bowl.
PPI: What is the toughest thing you’ve had to overcome personally in your career?
SG: I’ve played so many different sports and had so many ups and downs. Being injured for part of last year, and having a leg injury as a kicker, is a tough thing to get over. Building back the strength and building back the confidence was tough. I think that’s one of the toughest things I’ve gone through in my career.
PPI: What is the worst job you ever had growing up?
SG: Definitely cutting the grass. I grew up in Mississippi, and my girlfriend’s uncle owned a landscaping business. I had to do all the weeding and edging, and it was 105 degrees. Plus I had allergies. It was terrible.
PPI: What is on the top of your workout play list?
SG: I work out with other guys from the team, and it’s a whole mix of things. Some people like rap, some like rock. Sometimes its rock jams, sometimes ‘80s guitar rock. It varies a lot.
PPI: How did having Matt Light’s leadership as the Patriots union representative help the Patriots through the lockout?
SG: Matt has won on all levels of sports, and is one of the smartest and funniest individuals I know. He did a great job of keeping us informed, and answering whatever questions came up. A lot of the guys had worries all through the offseason, and he did a great job of keeping us informed, sending out emails and taking phone calls.
Scottie Graham contributed to this report.
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