Ode to a Patriots Great: Vince Wilfork - Roto Street Journal
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Ode to a Patriots Great: Vince Wilfork

Of all the things you can say about Bill Belichick – fierce competitor, mastermind coach, future Hall of Famer – one thing you can’t ignore is that Bill does what he wants, when he wants, and he takes shit from nobody. And that’s especially true with players who he feels can no longer contribute to the team as much as they used to, or as much as their contract entails they should. If Bill starts shopping you, his mind’s made up; you’re gone.

At this point, you’re not a real Pats fan if you haven’t looked at one of these roster moves at least once and said, “Hmmm.. him? Really? We sure about this?” Of course, that’s always followed by “In Bill We Trust” and the conversation ends there, but the thought still lingers; is this guy really past his peak? Is he really not worth the money? Pick anybody; Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, Asante Samuel, even this year with Chandler Jones. At some point, you looked at that guy’s previous year, and his past performance with the Pats, and for just one split-second you doubted the hooded genius. Yes, you did, you can admit it. This is a safe space. We’re not here to point fingers; we’re here to remember.

And who are we remembering? Just another star let go by the Patriots at what seemed to Bill to be the perfect time; the legend himself, Vince Wilfork. In Big Vince’s 11 seasons with the Pats, from his rookie year in ’03 to his departure after New England’s Super Bowl XLIX win, he started all 16 games seven times and started a grand total of 148 contests. He finished his Pats career with 355 tackles, good for 14th in team history, and also tacked on 16 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 12 fumble recoveries.

Beyond the stat sheet, Vince was a force with New England. His smile was as contagious as his 6’2″, 325 lb. frame was intimidating, and he anchored the Pats defensive line for a decade-plus that included 4 AFC Championships and 2 Super Bowl victories. He was voted to the Pro Bowl 5 times, a 1st-team All-Pro in 2012, and honored as a member of the Patriots 50th anniversary team in 2009.

About a month after New England’s victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, New England announced they would not be picking up the option on Wilfork’s contract. It wasn’t exactly a popular move among fans, but most understood it; Wilfork was 33 years old, had a bit of an injury history that included missing the last 12 games of 2013 with an Achilles tear, and was due up to $7 million dollars¬†for the 2015 season. Wilfork became a free agent, and just 11 days later he signed a 2-year contract with the Houston Texans worth $9 million (plus a $3 million signing bonus).

Wilfork turned back time in Houston, starting 31 of 32 games over 2 seasons, but after the Texans’ 34-16 loss to New England in last week’s Divisional Playoff game, he hinted that he may hang them up for good. All reports indicate Wilfork is heavily leaning toward retirement, and although the decision has not been made official yet it seems appropriate to begin preparing for LWV II: Life Without Vince 2. Part 1 was his departure from the Patriots, but now we prepare for football as a whole without big number 75.

As fitting as it was to have his last game played at Gillette Stadium, it’ll be a bummer not seeing Big Vince in the NFL anymore. So as a lifelong Pats fan and huge fan of his work, I say thanks. Thanks for the highlights, the electrifying basketball performance on Hard Knocks, and of course, thanks for the Super Bowls. Couldn’t have gotten ’em without you.

Image result for vince wilfork rings

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  • Youngest member of the RSJ team. Boston sports and not much else. 0 for 2 closing the deal on Tinder dates. Venmo: @SeanKeegan

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