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AFC PLAYOFFS Indianapolis kicker at it again: '... they're ripe for the picking'



Published: Wed, January 12, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Colts' Mike Vanderjagt is known for his outspoken nature.

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) -- Mike Vanderjagt's mouth is still causing trouble, even though he's criticizing his opponents and not his coach and quarterback.

On Tuesday, New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison fired back at the Indianapolis kicker.

"He has to be a jerk, Vanderjerk," Harrison said.

Many of Harrison's teammates brushed off Vanderjagt's remark, made shortly after Indianapolis dominated Denver 49-24 in the first round of the AFC playoffs. Speaking about the Patriots, he said "I think they're ripe for the picking" in Sunday's playoff matchup with the Colts.

Vanderjagt also said on WISH-TV in Indianapolis that, "I think they're not as good as the beginning of the year and not as good as last year."

Those comments stirred little controversy in Indianapolis, where his outspoken nature is well known. That's a sharp contrast to his comments two years ago when he said after the Super Bowl that Peyton Manning should show more emotion and coach Tony Dungy is too mild-mannered to be effective.

The "idiot kicker"

Manning then called Vanderjagt an "idiot kicker" and Dungy said Vanderjagt should have come to him with his complaints instead of airing them on a Canadian cable television show. Manning and Vanderjagt later apologized to each other and Vanderjagt met with Dungy.

Now Vanderjagt has provided material that coach Bill Belichick might use to provide extra motivation for a team seeking its third Super Bowl title in four years.

"Have I ever done it?" he said with a tiny smile. "Yeah, probably I have."

But quarterback Tom Brady didn't think Vanderjagt's words carried much weight.

"I mean he's just talking, you know? It's a kicker talking," Brady said. "Whether one guy says something or not, a team that's won two Super Bowls in three years and has established the type of reputation for playing hard and winning football games, I mean it kind of speaks for itself.

"I don't think we ever make comments that teams are ripe for the picking or plucking," he said. "I really think we have enough motivation at this point."

Sweet home Canada

Vanderjagt indicated on a radio interview during the season that he may not be back with the Colts next year. His cap number is around $2.8 million and he told the radio station he might kick in the CFL where he started his pro career in 1993.

Vanderjagt didn't try a field-goal attempt in the Colts' 24-14 loss to the Patriots in last year's AFC championship game in Foxboro.




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