Vince Wilfork potentially could play his final NFL game Saturday when the Oakland Raiders travel to Houston for their AFC Wild Card Game against the Texans.
The nose tackle, who’s spent the last two seasons with the Texans after 11 years with the New England Patriots, is considering retirement, which could come this weekend if Houston loses. Wilfork told reporters Tuesday that he’d rather go out on his own terms.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about,” Wilfork said, per the Houston Chronicle. “It is a possibility. I’ve been playing for a while. I love this game. One of the hardest pills to swallow is when you leave something you love. I still love the game. My body feels good, but do I want to continue?
“It’s going to be tough. I’m not walking out banged up or with nothing left in the tank. For me, it’s more mental than anything. When the season’s over, I’m going to really take a look at what I want to do, if I want to continue or not.”
Wilfork is a five-time Pro Bowl pick, and he bracketed his Patriots career with Super Bowl wins in 2004 and 2014. If he retires after this season, he could end his career at Gillette Stadium, as the winner of Saturday’s Texans-Raiders matchup will face New England in the divisional round if the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Miami Dolphins.
It sounds like Wilfork will have the support of Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, who has known the 35-year-old nose tackle since 2007 when he joined the Patriots as an offensive assistant, if he decides to walk away.
“I’ve had tremendous respect for Vince from the time I met him” O’Brien said, per the Chronicle. “When I think about Vince, I think about two things — his family, his wife and kids and all the things he does in the community in New England and Houston.
“And then I think about Vince on the field. To play that position for that many years at such a high level is incredible. There’s physical, violent contact on every play. It’s a testament to his toughness. He’s been a good teammate and a good leader. And I know this about Vince: He wants to play really well in the playoffs.”
Wilfork will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Thumbnail photo via Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports Images
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