A Tribute to Vince Wilfork, Icon


You don’t become a beloved folk hero like Vince Wilfork without leaving behind a collection of highlights, moments, stories and unique personality traits that made you a larger-than-life (pun intended) character that won’t be forgotten. And now that VW’s career is transitioning from cracking ribs to dry-rubbing them, here’s one man’s list of the reasons he was embraced by a region and will be celebrated here forever:

–Vince was a Draft Day steal.
In 2004, the Patriots were coming off their second championship in three years. But they’d also moved on from Ted Washington, who anchored the middle of the line on the best defensive unit probably in team history (five games without allowing a touchdown and three shutouts). Wilfork seemed out of the Pats reach sitting at 21, with virtually everyone having him going to Tampa at 15. But for no reason other than they were the Bucs, they took WR Michael Clayton. No other team ahead of the Pats seemed to be looking for defensive tackle help so we all sat there sweating out the next five picks, but he never came off the board. Given that they acquired the pick from Baltimore the year before for a pick they used on Kyler Boller, it would turn out to be one of the great bargains in franchise history.

–Vince managed to come out of Miami (FL) without being a punk.
not saying every guy drafted out of the U in the 2000s was a shady, reckless, insufferable or criminal douchebag. I mean, there was Ed Reed. But Reed and Wilfork were rare exceptions at a school that produced Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp, Kellen Winslow, Jr., Sean Taylor (RIP), Jeremy Shockey and Brandon Meriweather. Wilfork declared for the draft with a wife and kids and a spotless reputation that he never lost.

–Vince was taking bribes at Miami, in the best way possible.
When Nevin Shapiro was handing out cash, cars, jewelry, hookers and blow to Hurricanes players, Wilfork admitted he was one of the guys on the take. He and Bianca let Shapiro buy them a washer and dryer. Those bibs and onesies don’t wash themselves.

–Vince overcame early struggles.
Like a lot of D-linemen coming out of school, Wilfork had never been asked to 2-gap before. And like virtually all of them, he had trouble with the concept of controlling his blocker and tracking the ball while being responsible for plugging the holes on both sides of him, instead of shooting gaps and blowing up plays. Unlike the vast majority of them, he figured it out. Coaches worked with him, moved him a couple of steps off the line and he became the best 0-technique nose tackle of his era.

–Vince once did this:

–Vince once won a playoff game and saved someone’s life in the same night.


Driving home from the 2014 AFC championship game, a/k/a the Deflategate Game, Wilfork, Bianca and their kids came upon an SUV flipped over on its side. He got the door open, reached his mighty arm into the vehicle and pulled the drunk lady to safety, then stayed with her until the Staties arrived. Not six months later, Brandon Spikes was near that same stretch of road in his Mercedes Maybach at 3:30 in the morning, and slammed into another car. OnStar was alerted and called the car, only to have Spikes tell them he’d hit a deer. He then proceeded to ditch the totaled car and was cut shortly thereafter. Everything you need to know about both guys is in those two stories.

–Vince came up huge (intentional size pun #2).
He played a career 24 – an entire season and a half – postseason games. In fact, between New England and Houston he only missed going to the playoffs in 2008, the 11-5 Matt Cassel year. Arguably his most clutch performance was the 2011 AFC title game against Baltimore, the Cundiff is Finkle/Finkle is Cundiff game. Wilfork was around the ball all game, finished with three tackles and three assists and a solo sack where he pretty much picked up Matt Birk and used him as a blunt instrument to beat Joe Flacco over the head with.

–Vince defeated Bill Belichick.
Wilfork had some contract talks with the Patriots that were protracted and bordered on nasty, but he got his way each time. In fact, he is one of only five Patriots of the championship era to get drafted by the team and last 10 years. The others being Tom Brady, Matt Light, Steven Gostkowski and Matthew Slater. Meaning he not only got the coveted second contract, he pulled off the almost unheard of third deal. That is winning at the negotiating table to the toughest opponent in the business.

–Vince and Mr. Kraft kiss every time they see each other.

Oh, sure, it’s acceptable in 2017. But these two brave souls were out there showing man-on-man PDA back when society still didn’t approve.

–Vince won the Super Bowl his first year with the Patriots and his last.


Ten seasons apart. That alone is enough to mean:

–Vince is a first ballot Patriots Hall of Famer.


So by my math, that’ll be 2022. Which should be just enough time to make that red jacket, XXXXL.