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Vince Wilfork Becomes 32nd Member of the Patriots Hall of Fame

The two-time Super Bowl champion was officially inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame on Saturday.

If you could create a nose tackle in a lab to anchor Bill Belichick's run defense, well, the Patriots didn't have to because that create-a-player would be Vince Wilfork.

After 11 decorated seasons in New England, the two-time Super Bowl champion and five-time Pro Bowler was enshrined into the Patriots Hall of Fame in a tremendous ceremony on Saturday.

Along with Tom Brady, Wilfork is the only dynasty-era Patriot to win a Super Bowl in Dynasty 1.0 (2004) and 2.0 (2014). As an immovable object in the middle of the defense, Wilfork ate blockers, collapsed pockets, and made athletic plays highlighted by three career interceptions that weren't normal for a 330-pound defensive lineman.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick moved Wilfork up and down the line of scrimmage as he wasn't solely a nose tackle, and his teammates benefited from having an automatic double-team on Wilfork that allowed the rest of the defense to fly around.

"He may not have had many stats, but the only reason anybody else on the field had stats is because he was out there," Patriots Senior Football Advisor Matt Patricia said in a video that will now play in the Patriots Hall of Fame.

With former teammates and thousands of fans gathering outside the Patriots Hall of Fame at Gillette Stadium, an emotional Wilfork spoke about his life journey and his career with the Patriots.

Although football was on the mind for most, Wilfork's late mother and father were on his as he donned the red jacket. The Pats Hall of Famer's parents tragically died within six months of each other while he was attending and playing football at the University of Miami.

"As a player, I never really thought about being a Hall of Famer. My goal was always playing football, a game I love, but to understand who I am, you have to understand my journey," Wilfork said.

Wilfork explained how his parents' death initially caused him to quit football, but his defensive line coach at Miami convinced him to return to the field and continue his career.

When the Patriots selected Wilfork in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, the Pats legend found more than a professional football team in New England's organization and fan base.

"The more I thought about it, the more I came to my senses, and I picked my career back up. Fast forward, I get drafted with the first pick. I came to New England, one of the best decisions RKK ever made. But at the same time, I was still missing my mother and father."

"I can't tell you how many times I left the practice field or left the game torn up inside. I get a chance to walk past my teammates and have their families, you know, their mom, their dad, their brother, their sisters, and wives, and I'm hurting inside because I don't have my mother and father here to enjoy this life with me."

"When you look at who I am as a person, what I've accomplished, you guys are not just fans to me. You are my family. I worked hard my whole life. I had the greatest teammates ever, the greatest fans, the greatest owner ever, and the greatest coach ever. I want to thank everyone. Everyone is my family," Wilfork said.

Before the festivities wrapped up, the last surprise guest was Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

"As great of a player as he was, and he was great, he's even greater as a person and a leader. When they do the captains for the Patriots Hall of Fame, he should be up there," Belichick said of Wilfork. "Vince was also that guy that when he said something, you could hear a pin drop. Nobody else was talking. Nobody else was giving any rebuttal. Nobody else was saying anything other than, 'yes sir, Vince, we are behind you. Let's go.' And he always led us down the right path."

"I would just like to personally thank you for what you have done for me. Your leadership, your competitiveness, your team attitude, and your physical and mental toughness. Thank you for all you've done for me, my family, and this organization. You are truly not only a Hall of Famer, but you're one of the captains of this Hall of Fame team," Belichick concluded.

The Patriots welcome the Baltimore Ravens to Gillette Stadium for Sunday's season-opener, and Wilfork will be honored at halftime. Along with arguably the best game of his career coming against Baltimore in the 2011 AFC Championship Game, Patriots chairman, owner, and CEO Robert Kraft reminded those in attendance that there's a deeper Ravens connection with Wilfork.

As Kraft explained, the Patriots traded their first-round pick (19th overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft to the Ravens for a 2003 second-round and 2004 first-round draft choice. The Ravens selected quarterback Kyle Boller in 2003, while the Patriots chose Vince Wilfork out of the University of Miami with Baltimore's original draft choice at 21st overall in the 2004 draft.

On the eve of another showdown with those very Ravens, Wilfork was inducted into Patriots immortality.

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