BOSTON (CBS) — With hints of retirement circulating, there is a chance Vince Wilfork’s final NFL game will be against the team with which it all started.
Wilfork, whose Houston Texans will square off against the Patriots in Saturday’s AFC Divisional Round game at Gillette Stadium, spent his first 11 seasons in New England after they drafted him 21st overall in 2004. He quickly became a leader in the locker room and on the field, and a favorite among New England fans. The hefty nose tackle clogged the middle for some of New England’s best defenses and won a pair of Super Bowls with the Patriots, clenching the Lombardi Trophy in his first and last season with the team.
After signing a two-year deal with the Texans in 2015, Saturday will be the third time Wilfork will face his former squad. In true Patriots’ fashion, Wilfork told WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche that he doesn’t view it as anything but the next game on the schedule.
“I won’t have any different feeling. I’ve been gone for two years now and this will be my third time playing New England – one at home and one up there. It will be no different this time around,” said Wilfork. “I think guys understand that it is what it is. It’s no shocker that I’m not there; we’re passed that. I’m just looking forward to going up there and playing a good football game, and hopefully we walk away with a W. We know how tough it is to play at Gillette, so we have to do everything we possibly can and be ready to play 60 minutes, or even more, against a good football team.”
The 35-year-old Wilfork said what he’s most proud of during his NFL career is that he did things the right way, both on and off the field.
“I was always a person who treated people with respect and had fun. I played this game at a high level with a lot of passion, but I had fun playing it,” he said. “It’s no different being down in Texas. Guys know that I like to have fun. I throw the football and think I’m the best athlete on the team; it was no different in New England. I just played the game the way it needed to be played. And I learned that from watching the players before me.
“I have a lot of history up there. I met a lot of great people for 11 years, and I love them to death. There’s just a mutual respect,” said Wilfork.
A lot has been made of Wilfork’s former teammate, Tom Brady, wanting to play until he’s 45. Brady’s incredible work ethic obvious plays a big part in that, but the quarterback has also pointed to his unique diet, which includes avocado ice cream.
It doesn’t sound like Wilfork has ever considered such a drastic change in his lifestyle.
“I don’t eat avocado. I’m a meat man; I’m a protein guy,” he said. “He can stick with avocados and all that green stuff. I’m not a rabbit.”
It sounds like there’s a lot of barbecuing in Wilfork’s future.