BOSTON (CBS) – As his head coach did on Wednesday, New England Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork addressed the arrest of former teammate Aaron Hernandez at Gillette Stadium on Thursday.
“First and foremost, it’s a sad situation for the victim’s family,” Wilfork told the large gathering of local and national media on the same practice field the Patriots will be performing drills on come Friday. “You’re not dealing with just football right now. You’re dealing with a human being, you’re dealing with life, so it’s just sad. You’re just disappointed, but at the same time we get a chance to come do something that we love to do and play football.
“One thing we’re going to have to do is just try to keep everything separate and when we step on the field just control what we can control, and that’s football, getting better each day,” said Wilfork.
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Hernandez is currently in jail accused of first-degree murder in the death of Odin Lloyd, who was gunned down less than a mile from the former New England tight end’s home in North Attleboro.
“It was disappointment. It was sad,” Wilfork said of hearing the news that Hernandez was arrested. “There’s really nothing much you can say; just sad and disappointment was the biggest thing.”
Wilfork said that Training Camp getting underway will give the team a good escape from the situation.
“I think it puts everything into perspective,” he said. “You have to enjoy every moment that you have in life, and football is an outlet for us. When we come here we expect to play football, to get away from everything. It’s started. When camp starts on a note like this it’s tough, but at the same time we have to continue to do our job.
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“We’re going to do everything in our will-power to ignore the noise and stay focused on the task at hand,” said Wilfork.
Wilfork was a team captain in 2012 for the third time, and figures to be a team leader again as he enters his 10th NFL season. As the longest-tenured Patriot on the defensive side of the ball, Wilfork knows what the team will have to do to overcome the adversity that lies ahead.
“Just stick together,” he said. “When we walk thought this door we have a sign that says ‘put your team first and do your job.’ I think we’re all going to do it, because that’s what we’re all going to do. There are going to be a lot of things said and done over the course of the year, but we have to come here and ignore the noise, work as hard as we can to win ball games. It’s going to be tough, but at the same time it has to be done.”