Belichick, Wilfork Not Distracted by Contract


Aug 8, 2009

Belichick, Wilfork Not Distracted by Contract All too often, it seems as though athletes have trouble leaving their off-the-field issues off the field.

Whether it's a dispute over a contract, legal trouble or anything else, problems have a way of worsening in training camp.

That, however, has not been the case — at least not publicly — for the Patriots and Vince Wilfork, who has made it clear he'd like to make some more money.

Despite the request, the situation does not appear to be a distraction.

"Football players play football, and [Wilfork]’s done a very good job of that," Bill Belichick said after practice on Friday. "I think he’s having a good camp and he’s been focused and looks like he’s ready to play."

Wilfork echoed that sentiment. When asked if getting on the field helped ease the situation, Wilfork answered with a convincing yes.

"I can put [negotiations] to the side and come out and do what I love — play football," he was quoted as saying on "That’s how I’m approaching it. … But it will not affect the way I prepare and what I do on the field. You have to be able to separate business from your profession and what you’re doing, and this case right here shows what’s going on.

"But me, I love football, so I’m going to play football, and everything else will take care of itself."

Belichick, without specifically referencing Wilfork, said he can appreciate when a player puts the team ahead of his own interests.

"Every player on the team has individual situations," Belichick said. "We all have families and fathers and mothers and kids and friends and relatives, and there’s a business side of it. … When we come in here and put on the uniform and walk out there on the field, we’re here to play football for the New England Patriots. That’s what we’re here to do. That’s what I expect everybody to do, and everybody — in one way or another — has to balance all those things. So we’re all in that same boat."

Though Belichick said there "are no deadlines for anybody" when it comes to finalizing a contract, it's not something that either side would like to have linger throughout the season. If it does, however, Wilfork appears to have the ability to leave it off the field.

"My thing every day is getting up, coming to work, and until they say it’s over, it’s over," Wilfork said on "But it’s not going to change the way I come out and prepare. Especially, I’m not going to let anyone down in that locker room with me. They know the situation. It’s in the papers and on the news."

"They know I’m in my final year, but they also know that when I step on this football field and strap it on, it’s time to go to work," he added. "They know they can trust me. And I expect the same thing out of them."

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