FOXBORO, Mass. — Nearly two years have passed since Vince Wilfork played his final game in a New England Patriots uniform, but the veteran nose tackle remains a revered figure in the Patriots’ locker room.
As Wilfork, now with the Houston Texans, prepares for what very well could be the final game of his career this Saturday against his old team, several of his former teammates reflected on what the four-time All-Pro meant to the Patriots organization during his 11 years in Foxboro.
Quarterback Tom Brady: “Iâve looked over center for many years and seen him. Heâs just in a different jersey. But heâs still just a force. I mean both in the run game and the pass game. He still gets pressure in the pocket. Vince has been one of the best players in the league since he got in the league. Heâs been a great addition forÂ (the Texans). I hate playing against him. Iâd much rather have him on our team, but thatâs not the way it works out, or worked out last year. But itâs still great to see him playing and playing well.”
Wide receiver Julian Edelman: “I love Big V, so it’s going to be bad to see him on the other side of the ball. But it is what it is.”
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower:Â “Heâs a great man. Great football player, even better man. (I) still keep in contact with him. Just all around he was one of the guys who really helped me learn what it is to be a pro. (He) kind of taught me what the game is. So I appreciate him and obviously (Jerod) Mayo and a couple other guys, but Vince is definitely a big part of what he did when he was here.”
Safety Devin McCourty:Â “He was huge for me. He taught me a lot about being a pro, being a good football player, and this is coming from a defensive lineman talking to a secondary guy, but what you need to do to be a good player, the time, the film work, taking care of your body, so Iâve learned a lot from him. Itâs been fun competing against him and getting a short time to catch up with him, so I think thatâs all up to him. Heâs been a great player, and most importantly, heâs been a great leader of men. So whatever he decides to do, I wish him the best.”
Head coach Bill Belichick: “I have all the respect in the world for Vince. He and (his wife) Bianca and his family have been great assets to this organization, and I thoroughly enjoyed the time that I had to coach Vince from when he came into the league and his time here and the great success that he had and we had together. Heâs a great player. He was a great attribute to this football organization. I know heâs respected from the top to the bottom and everywhere in between.”
Belichick’s comments came during a conference call with Houston reporters.
Thumbnail photo viaÂ Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images