New England Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork addresses the media during his conference call on Wednesday, March 10, 2010.
Q:Now that the ink is drying and you have the new contract, is there anything you're going to buy?
VW:No, I think I've got everything I want already. The only thing we're going to do, closer to the time of retirement, we're going to build a home. That's it. I'm not a big flashy guy. I've got my truck, but I'm just a normal dude. I don't need to go out and buy a Ferrari, or a Bentley or stuff like that. Even though I love to fish, it doesn't make any sense to buy a boat now because I can't enjoy it. I'm fine for now. Only thing we're looking forward to now is towards the end of my career, building my dream home. That's basically it right now.
Q:Where would be the perfect location for that dream home?
VW:Florida, of course. I already have some land down there that I'm in love with. I've had it for five years now. I can't wait to build it out there. Everything is set. It doesn't make sense to build a house now. That's why I said, it will be closer to retirement time, but that's about it. But it's definitely going to be in the sunshine state, somewhere with some good weather, so I can golf and fish every day.
Q:Where in Florida is that?
VW:I have a place in Lake Wales. It's between Orlando and Tampa. I'm 45 minutes from Tampa and 30 minutes from Orlando, so I'm basically in the middle of the state.
Q:Would you consider having all the writers, who covered you throughout your career, down for a housewarming party?
VW:Of course. You guys have got to get away from work.
Q:On the deal, you are a big dude and you carry a lot of weight, was there anything in the contract that says you have to play at a particular weight?
VW:I have a weight clause in my contract, but I've been having a weight clause. It wasn't in the contract, but it's a certain amount of weight that I have to meet anyways at 325 every year, which I never have a problem being at my weight. It's really not a big deal. Every big guy in the league that's a nose tackle/defensive lineman, that are bigger guys, all have this in their contract, so there's nothing in this contract that's unfair to me. I think with the contract, when the time presented itself, I think we both buckled down and we both worked hand in hand together to try to get this deal done, in which we did. There's nothing in this deal that I regret - not at all. If I had to do it all over again, I would probably just do it sooner. That's the only thing that threw me for a loop - the whole six years and then trying to do one, but it was well worth it. I got paid good money and that's one thing I said I wanted from the start. I just wanted to be played decent and I wanted to get paid fair, and I think I got paid fair. No grudges against no one. Like I said, when the time presented itself, especially with the tag - when it came to me - it was probably five minutes before we got on the phone and started talking. I think within those five minutes it was like, 'OK, are they going to trade me or what's going to happen now?' Once we talked and found out the tag was getting put on because we were trying to reach a long-term deal I was very positive a deal was going to get done. By that time, I just knew. There was something in me and my wife felt the same way and my agent felt the same way that a deal was going to get done. I didn't know it was going to be this quick, but I just knew it was going to get done. It was quick and, like I said, when we had that extra time, we had a chance to sit down and really go back and forth and get it knocked out. And we did and I'm happy to stay in New England.
Q:Do you think this sends a message to the younger guys on the team that if you do your job and take care of your business that the franchise will take care of you eventually?
VW:I think it does. This team goes through a lot every year with making decisions, what's best for this team and stuff like that, and I can only speak on my whole experience with this whole negotiation thing. Yes, there were ups and downs and there were times I was frustrated, there were times where I thought it was very close and something fell apart. There were times I thought it was going to be done earlier than it was. There were times where I thought it was going to get done. You have all types of mixed emotions toward the whole thing, but at the end of the day they kept their word to me. They kept their word to me that they were going to get me a good deal, a long-term deal. So I can't speak on anyone else that was in the past, I can't speak on anyone that's coming to the future, the only thing I can tell you is they kept it real with me. When they said they were going to do something, they did it. They said they were going to get a deal done and they did it, even though I knew at times it was like, 'Are we really going to get one done? Are you serious?' They did it. There is nothing to say negative toward the organization about this contract. Like I said, I just wished it was earlier, but everything has a way of working itself out and I'm glad it worked out the way it did. But going forward, guys can look at this situation - I'm sure the Patriots have been on the bullet a couple times, not playing with guys and all that. I handle my business how I handle my business and that's what's happy to me. It worked out for me. You can only believe and you can only trust in your circle, your camp and that's how you've got to approach it. However you approach it that's how you have to approach it. We always wanted to be here. We said this from day one. Even if I was to hit free agency and went out and got a deal, before I would've signed that deal I probably would have came back and see if the Patriots would want to match that deal because I didn't want to leave. I'm glad it's done. Now you can just focus on football now. My agent did a real good job. My wife did a great job. I sat back and let those two work, and I had to work sometimes and there were times where I talked with Mr. Kraft and we had some conversations. He was very positive with getting the deal done and he stuck to his word. I'm just happy it's all done and it works out.
Q:There's no question you will be willing to step into a leadership void. Can you expand on that? How did that decision come about?
VW:I'll tell you what. Ask players. We're going to have to start in the offseason training. Everybody has to be accountable. When you are on the field you have to give it 100 percent. The only way - you've got to weed out the bad seeds, point blank. If you can't give me what I'm giving you on the field, I don't need you on the field with me. That's how you win. You've got to build trust. Show me that I can count on you. I have no problem, if a guy's not giving me that, I have no problem telling that guy that I don't need him on the field and I have no problem telling Bill [Belichick] that I don't want him on the field. That's point blank. And that's how it's going to have to work and that's what we've got to do. At the end of the day, we're on the field together, we travel together, we play together, we camp together, we room together sometimes, we eat together, we have meetings together, sometimes we're together more than we're with our families. Sometimes, overnight we stay at hotels together. We need to build that bond, but in that bond you have to have some accountability. We need to trust one another when we're on the field. We need to compete at a high level every place. If you're tired that's why we have a guy who's a back up to come in, but there's no question we have that there, but we need to pull it out of the guys. I think this year it's going to be a huge change. Like I said, we have a bunch of leadership on this team. A lot of guys aren't used to seeing young leaders. The leaders we had were older guys like Rodney [Harrison], [Richard] Seymour, [Tedy] Bruschi, [Mike] Vrabel - you name it. They were older guys and they're not here anymore, but now you start to see younger guys becoming leaders early because they don't take seven, eight, nine years because we're such a young ball club, but these young players we have - [Jerod] Mayo, [Brandon] Meriweather, we've got [Leigh] Bodden, [Ty] Warren, myself, Tom [Brady], we have Randy [Moss], we've got Dan [Koppen] - we have guys in this locker room that know what it takes to win and you've just got to trust to it. We as players and as leaders on the team, we have to ask more of ourselves and we have to ask more out of our players, point blank. And I don't think it's coaches. Coaches coach [and] let the players play. You call the play and we're going to execute it. If that was the wrong play, then guess what, the coach is going to have to bite that bullet and we roll on. But we can't sit back and question a call from a coach or whatever, no. The coaches are going to try to put us in the best situation they can, but we have to still execute that play. So we all got to get on the same page. Like I said, let the coaches coach and the players play. If we play at a high level, there's no telling what we will do. There have been times where we've been on the road and won on the road. We've been in Pittsburgh before, we've been in Indy before. We've been on some tough road trips and came out with W's before. We've had some heartbreaking loses also, but when we lost do we settle for that or do we get back to work, regroup and try to come back the next week to do what we need to do. I think that's the level of competition and competing and the level of trust. I think that's where we need to raise our game. We won around here for a long time and a lot of teams sat back and watched us beat up on people. From the last year or two, teams wanted to play us because they thought we weren't the same. We've got to do something to change that because this year, I think it's going to have to start with the players. I think the leaders in this locker room, we're going to have to approach each other and approach the team and let it know this is how we've got to do the things if we want to be successful and go from there, but there's no question in my mind that we have the guys to do that. We've got the guys to compete, but we've just got to get that out of them. And that's no problem. Just because we have to work a little extra, that's not a big deal. If working a little extra gets us to where we need to be I'll take that 100 times. I'll take that 100 out of 100. I'm willing. I talked with some players and they feel the same way. Everybody's not happy with how we ended the season last year. But you know what? Last year is last year. What we've done in the past we've done in the past. Moving forward, this is how we've got to handle it. We've got to be accountable for one another. When you're on the field, give me your all. If you feel like you can't, get a little break, that's fine, but we need everybody working at that tempo and that's going to start in offseason training.
Q:What are your impressions of the moves your team has made to retain guys on defense in Leigh Bodden, Tully Banta-Cain and yourself? Is that encouraging to you?
VW:It is very encouraging. I'm telling you, Leigh's first year over here, last year, with us and he got a taste. He got a bad taste of what it's all about, but Tully's been around. Tully knows what a championship team is all about. He's been here before. Those two guys are definitely people that can help us, and the organization felt the same way and that's why they brought them back. It's no question that these guys can help us. I don't know what else they're going to do in free agency or whatever it may be. I don't know, but I'll tell you what, every move they make is to better our football team. It's to better our chances that we're getting done what we need to get done. So, as fans we need to trust that. What we have going into camp, that's what we have. You see people come and go all the time, but guess what whatever you have you've got to roll with. You've got to have faith and you've got to have trust in those guys, man. And like I said, the level of leadership, the level of consistency and the level of trust, we have to raise it because we have to start this thing up the right way. I think we can all get off on a good start if we can establish that level of trust from the get go and that starts with competing in the offseason. We work out together every day, four times a week through the offseason. A lot of the guys, we golf together, we fish together, whatever you do, it's tied in to competing. I think last year we just got beat sometimes because we weren't competitive enough, point blank. That's going to change. Like I said, that was last year. Moving forward, this is what we have to do to be a better football team. This is how we have to play to win balls games. This is what we have to do to be a better football team. With that being said, I'm excited about this season. I'm excited about getting back to work with my teammates. I'm excited about seeing my teammates, my coaches [and] actually getting back to football. I'm very excited about getting back to football. The business is over and now it's all about football. That's what I do best and let me do it. Let me get back to work and getting back to getting in shape and getting back and hitting some golf balls.
Q:You talked about the whole leadership thing, are you in more of a position now than you have been in the past because some of the older guys aren't there anymore and now that your future is set and you know you're going to be there for the next five years you can be more vocal than you have been in the past?
VW:Even if I didn't I'm going to have to, but I think Bill holds all of us ... There're some people that lead by example. Some people are vocal leaders. I led by example. I've said things when I had to say it, but now all of us have to rise. We have to raise our level of play. If something is wrong, we have to address it. We can't let it go on. We have to address it and get it better and people have to realize that we're trying to get somewhere. It's nothing personal. If you don't want to win, you don't have to be here, point blank. So if you want to win, this is how we're going to have to do it. You've got to be the believer and you've got to go forward and you might have to do a little something extra. That's fine. By me doing something extra or by us doing something extra, [if that] gets us to the point we need to be, I'll do it 100 out of 100 times, point blank.
Q:You mentioned you had some conversations with Robert Kraft, is that unusual? Does that surprise you and can you elaborate on that?
VW:There were times where I wanted to talk to him, general conversation. Sometimes it was about contract. Sometimes it was general conversation and he had no problem talking with me. He always returned my phone calls if I didn't reach him and that's how it goes from there. Our personal relationship is great, it's always been great. From day one until now, it's always been a great relationship between us and the Krafts. That's just how it was. There were times that I thought I needed to talk to him directly and I did. There was nothing wrong with it. He's my owner. I talk to him if he's passing in the locker room. So what difference does it make now? A lot of times it wasn't even about contract, it was just about general conversation and we handled business like that. Like I said, he told me we were going to get a deal done [and] we got a deal done. That's the only thing I asked. From whatever everybody else had to go through with him, I can only speak on our relationship and what I went through with him. They stuck with their guns. They told me this is what they were going to do and they did it. It's no big secret. They kept it real with me. I appreciate that big time.
Q:You mentioned Bianca's counsel before, how important has she been in this process for you and what valuable role has she played?
VW:Well, that's my agent/wife. She's tough. She doesn't want anything but the best for us. And you know what? I wouldn't change it for the world, to have a partner like that and to have a wife that's my partner and friend like she is, so business-minded. It's probably tough on business people because they're getting it from both ends, from my agent and now her. She's always been supportive. Ever since she came into my life she's been a huge supporter of me, football or no football. Sometimes, she wished I never played football because we could live a normal life. I thank her for what she does for me. She looks out for my best interest [and] for our life. She's just always supportive with whatever I chose to do. When I'm wrong, she tells me I'm wrong. She's not one of the ones that sits and agrees with me because I'm her husband. No, if I'm wrong, she's going to tell me I'm wrong. And I respect that, but she means a lot to me from a wife and a business partner. She's a very smart young lady and I'm happy to have such a special in my life like that.
Q:You have a newborn, too?
VW:Yeah, seven months now.
Q:Boy or girl?
VW:A boy. His name is David Dream-Angel Wilfork.
Q:Is that your first?
VW:No, I have three. I have a 12-year-old son, a 7-year-old daughter and a 7-month-old boy.
Q:Not to get too melodramatic, but you went through some tragedies earlier in this decade when you were in Miami. In retrospect, I know how important your parents are to you, do you reflect on those life experiences when you go through what you went through the past few weeks and past few years and what you've accomplished?
VW:There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about my parents. A lot of people know about my parents, a lot of people don't know about them. But I lost my father when I was 20 - June 5, a day before my mother's birthday and I lost my mother Dec. 16. I turned 21 in November, so after my 21st birthday, I lost my mother. I found out I was pregnant with my daughter and none of my parents ever got a chance to see my daughter or my baby son. Every day that goes by I reflect on that. I told my father when I was four what I wanted to be in life and that was a professional football player. And to this day it was like ... When I signed this deal as a rookie it was a special moment because physically they weren't here to see me do it and my father always believed in me and my mother believed in me. When I signed as a rookie it was, 'Man, I made it daddy' and 'I made it momma.' But now I'm looking at once I signed this deal it was like a whole different league now. It's like I've done [what I've] worked for in life, this is what I worked for and sometimes people take it for granted. I don't care how mad you are at your parents, your brother or your siblings, your friend, but don't take life for granted. That's something that I cherish every day. When I wake up and see my wife and kids, that's something I have to cherish every day because I know how quick it's here and how quick it can go. For my parents not to be here physically with me, to enjoy this moment with me, yeah, it bothered me. It definitely bothered me because my daddy was a big inspiration to my life. I have one other brother and we always talk about our parents and everything. My father made me who I am, from the athlete to the man, to the funny, to the loving person, it was all taken after my father. I always looked at him and I wanted to be like my father. I just wish he was here physically to enjoy this time with me. I know we'd probably be somewhere fishing because my dad was a big time fisherman and he was a bigger Pittsburgh Steelers fan. But by now he would have traded in his Pittsburgh Steelers jacket for a Patriots jacket, I'm pretty sure of that. But he was everything to me. He's the one that got me to this point. How hard I worked over the years to prove people wrong, people that I grew up with, from what I went through in my life, what I went through before I went to college and people said I would never go to college, I would never be anything, all that stuff drives me to this day. I can sit there and have the last laugh because the same people who doubted me want to pat me on my back. I don't forget about nothing. I don't forget. I remember everything. I forgive, but I never forget. That's how I live my life. I just cherish every day of it because you never know when it's gone. I definitely miss my parents and for all you out there who have parents and you're going through stuff with your family members, friends, whatever, just remember not every day isn't promised. You never know, one day you might wake up and something is gone from you and you really don't know how much it meant to you until when it's gone. That's what it is, man. Everything I worked for in life, it's here. I worked this hard and I'm going to continue to work harder. That's where we at right now.
Q:I saw your truck in that Reebok ad you were in. What kind of truck do you have and when did you get it?
VW:I got that truck last year - in February last year. It's a Freightliner. It's like a baby 18-wheeler. That's the car I wanted. I wanted that car for six years. When I was going to Indy one year or something and it was an International and I saw one and I was like, 'Man, I like that truck.' I always like big trucks but I never wanted to get a truck like everybody else. I don't want an F150 because everyone's got that, 350, everybody's got that. So I seen this truck and I told my wife then, 'I want that truck. That's my next truck.' I got it last year. It was in Florida last year. I got it out of the weather, but hopefully I'll be bringing it back up to enjoy this offseason.