Last year around this time, Vince Wilfork was very angry with the Patriots. The team reportedly approached Wilfork about restructuring his contract, and the veteran D-lineman asked for his release. Eventually, Wilfork reconsidered, and he worked out a new contract with the Patriots.
Now, a year later, it appears again that Wilfork’s time in New England is done, after the Patriots declined his option for 2015. Wilfork is now a free agent. There remains a possibility that he ends up signing a new deal with New England, or he could sign with another team, or he could retire. It’s not known at this point.READ MORE: Police Continue Searching For Missing UNH Student Vincenzo Lirosi
But if he has indeed played his final game in a Patriots uniform — in a winning effort in the Super Bowl, no less — than the same sentiment from last season applies now. So on Throwback Thursday, here’s that farewell to Vince once more, with only the news section removed.
Vince Wilfork was, quite simply, one of the greatest Patriots of the past decade. He was at times an MVP-caliber player, regularly displaying a level of athleticism that just typically is not present in 325-pound men.
He was an impact player on the field, and a true leader off it. As veteran defensive players like Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Rodney Harrison and the like all left or retired, the wisdom they imparted on Vince was clearly evident in the locker room. He was the largest presence in the locker room, physically and otherwise, and that continued to be the case in the 2013 season, even though he was injured for most of the year.
Wilfork has been a player that neither owner Robert Kraft or head coach Bill Belichick has ever taken for granted. Both men knew they had a special player in No. 75, and both men will speak glowingly of Wiilfork when he is inevitably inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame.
They’ll talk about how every single snap Wilfork took represented one giant headache for the opponent, how you can count on one single hand the number of times he got the worst of a one-on-one situation in his career, how every single play run by an opposing offense had to take into account how to deal with him. They’ll talk about him bullying interior lineman on one play and chasing down top-flight running backs the next.
They’ll try to talk about plays like this:
Or like this:
Or like this:READ MORE: Rhode Island Man Killed In Fiery Wrong-Way Uxbridge Crash
Or like this:
Or like this:
But they’ll struggle with how difficult it is to put that type of work into words.
They’ll talk about the unheralded job done by Wilfork, the type of hard work that gets overlooked and sets up teammates to pad their own glory stats. And of course, they’ll take about Wilfork basking in just a bit of that glory when he made his two interceptions and scored his touchdown in 2011.
Hopefully, they’ll play this video, which should be titled “Watching This Is The Single Greatest Way A Human Being Can Spend 60 Seconds.”
And hopefully, they’ll show this one as well: Wilfork dominating Jets guard Brandon Moore on Thanksgiving 2012, pushing the lineman into Mark Sanchez’s path, and leading to the now-infamous butt fumble. Yes, that’s right — without Wilfork, there is no butt fumble. How’s that for leaving a legacy?
Of course, Wilfork’s greatness hasn’t always been so easy to quantify, but simply watching the man play snap-to-snap for the past 11 years has been nothing short of incredible. Hopefully for the sake of all football fans, he recovers fully from that Achilles and continues on as the dominant force he’s proven to be since 2004. Regardless of his future and regardless of this end in New England, Wilfork’s greatness is well-established. It’s only a matter of time before he’s inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame as one of the greats to ever wear the uniform.
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