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Vince Wilfork Press Conf. Transcript 4/29/04

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Q: How do you feel about being here at Gillette Stadium today and seeing it for the first time?

VW: I am so excited. I have been playing football for 14 years. I have always been waiting for this day to come and it is finally here. I know my parents are looking down on me right now and they are very happy. Especially my father, he would probably be in the stands somewhere already pretending like there was a game. It is just an exciting moment in the start of my career.

Q: You are from Florida; certainly you know the weather isn't going to stay as good here. Are you looking forward to the snow and the cold?

VW: Yes. I have a six year old son and he loves the snow. I love cold weather. The weather will not be a factor. I like to play football. I think that is football weather when you see your defensive linemen down on the ground and smoke is coming out of their mouth. That is football weather. New England has a lot of that up here. They know how to win. They love to win. I am just so excited to be in the position that I am in today.

Q: You are filling some pretty big shoes with the departure of Ted Washington. How do you feel about that?

VW: I don't know what my role is going to be on this team but whatever it is, I am up for it. I am ready to play. If it calls for me to sit out one year and learn from the veterans, I will. I just want to win. That is the main thing – to win and win big. New England knows a lot about winning. I think I will fit right in.

Q: What was it like getting that phone call on draft day?

VW: I saw New England pop up on the board, once that happened the phone rang. Right there and then my heart just dropped and I just started thinking about everything saying, 'Who could it be?' I looked at the phone and it said 'Incoming Call' and Coach Belichick was on the phone and said, 'Congratulations, you are a New England Patriot. How do you feel?' I said, 'How do I feel? I have been waiting for this my whole life.' Just to play for an organization like New England it says a lot. They have won two Super Bowls, almost back-to-back. How can a person come here and just nag on the weather? I could go and play in the desert. I don't care. I will play anywhere. That was an exciting feeling to get the call, especially from the head coach to congratulate me on becoming a Patriot.

Q: Have they said anything to you about how they are going to use you yet?

VW: No, not yet. We go through mini-camp tomorrow and our first meetings are tonight. I am so anxious just to get in the room with the books and just learn. Nothing has been said about what my role will be but whatever it is, I am willing to do it to help the team.

Q: You mentioned your parents earlier, one thing we have heard about you is your level of maturity. How has the loss of your parents help you become the man you are today?

VW: I think that helped me a lot especially since I lost both of my parents six months apart. I have a newborn and she is 14 months. You combine all of that to everything that I have been through in life and what I have seen, I can't do anything but step up and be a man. It was time for me to do it. That is why I am standing here today. A lot of people, when they meet me for the first time, they can tell that I am different. And I am different. I am a family man. I enjoy my family and football. Anything else I would be doing is probably fishing or looking at film. I am a sports fanatic and I love my family. That is how it goes.

Q: What are your expectations coming in here?

VW: Whatever it takes. Like I said, if it calls for me to sit out and learn from the older guys, I will do that and I will learn. If it calls for me just to play a certain position, I will do it. Whatever it takes to win, I am willing to do it.

Q: How do you make this team better?

VW: I think I am able to control the front line. I can hold up the blockers for my linebackers to roam and free them up to make a lot of plays. I think I can contribute in a lot of ways. It is whatever the scheme is and how they want me to run it. I don't know anything until mini-camp tomorrow.

Q: Are you at all intimidated? You went to Miami so you are ready for the next step. What are your emotions?

VW: Coming from Miami I think we played the best competition in college football. This was just another step in my life and I am going to have to get over it and I know the level of competition is going to be there day in and day out, not every other day or every other week. Every week the opponents are going to get harder and harder. It is a long season. All of that is exempt to the physical part. I will take care of that on my own with the workouts and everything. It is just how disciplined you can be to train your mind to get through all of this.

Q: Have you ever played you alone, head up, over the center?

VW: Yes. We played a five-man front, six-man front, four-man front; we have played all of that. So I have seen it all. It is nothing new to me. I can adapt to anything.

Q: So you would play where it was your gap control over the center as opposed to…

VW: Yes, I played one-gap and two-gap. I have played it all. That is why it is nothing new to me. I can handle the 3-4 or the 4-3 because we did it at Miami.

Q: There is a difference. If you talk to most defensive linemen, they want to get up field and get in the backfield and get to the quarterback. How do you feel about it?

VW: Whatever the team calls for me to do, I will do. If they want me to penetrate, I will penetrate. If they want me to sit back and hold up my line so my linebackers can roam, I will do that. It's not about what I want to do. It is all about the team. It is not about me. It is about the team and how I am going to contribute towards the team. That is what I am looking forward to, like I said, looking in the playbook and seeing what types of schemes they have drawn up, so I can get to work on my end and get the plays down pact.

Q: Is there a player in the pros today that you have turned to for some advice or leaned on?

VW: This mini-camp, I haven't talked to anyone about what is going to go on. One guy from the University of Miami that would come back and I would talk to on the phone was Ed Reed. He would tell me everything that I needed to know. It is more mental than anything else. You can train your body and you can go on the field and you can do all of the things on the field but can your mind handle it. That is what you have to train your mind to think like. It's not so much your body. Any football player can go and run some laps and be ready to play but it is the mindset. How tough is your mind? Are you wiling to go 60-minutes? Are you willing to give everything you have on every play? That is what it is all about. I think that I have trained my mind to fit all of the criteria.

Q: It hasn't been a week yet since the draft. What has this week been like for you in terms of family, friends and the response that you have gotten?

VW: There has been a lot of support. There are a lot of people happy especially after what I have gone through in my life. It would have been easy for me to just give up everything. The thing I love the most is football. I kept on trucking. I fought through the hard times. But these days are about being a New England Patriot. It is my first time up here [at Gillette Stadium] in Boston. It doesn't get any better than this. I am so happy right now that I am finally here. I could think back to when I was five years old telling my dad that I was going to become a professional football player and the day is here.

Q: What about your weight? In Miami, did you have to make a certain weight or were you allowed to go where you wanted? Did they check you? Is that something that you had to work on?

VW: A lot of people thought I had a weight issue. My weight has never been a factor. I played down in Miami in heat and never had conditioning problems. I never had any stamina problems. I never had back injuries because of my weight. Just by those things, that is how you can tell if a person can play at the weight they are at. Can they go 60-minutes? I went 60-minutes every game and no back problems and no injuries because of weight. That says a lot. Whatever they want me to get down to, whatever they want me to be at, that will not be a problem. I will get there.

Q: What is your preferred number?

VW: I would say around 330 pounds. If they want me to be 320-325, I will get there. It is all about the team. If they think by me losing 10 pounds from 330 to 320, it will make a huge difference for the team, then no problem. I am there.

Q: Where are you now?

VW: Between 325 – 330 pounds. We will see what goes on tomorrow and what coach wants me at and we will go from there.

Q: Do you like being compared to Warren Sapp and others out of your school?

VW: I really don't pay that any attention. Throughout my career I was compared to all of those guys. The fact of the matter is I am my own person. Everybody has their own style of play. I think I have a different style of play from those guys so I don't really get caught up into that. I just continue to do what I do best and that is play football, focus on what I have to achieve and that is all.

Q: You have a tattoo on your arm 'One Life to Live'. Can you talk a little bit about it?

VW: You are only in this lifetime one. Life is short and you have to live it up. Basically that is it. It just reminds me that you don't take anything for granted. You only have one life. That is the way I live. If I want to do something, I turn to my wife and tell her I want to do it. Now she can turn back to me and tell me it is stupid, but it is up to me if I want to do it or not. I get a lot of support from my wife and my friends. I just don't go out on a limb by myself and say, 'Well, I am going to go and do this.' It doesn't work that way. I turn to my wife first and give her the thought and then we will discuss it between each other.

Q: Did you play at Boston College?

VW: Yes I did.

Q: So you have been to Boston?

VW: Yes, I have been to Boston. I was saying I never been up here when it was snowing and all of that. It was cold when we came up here and played. It felt good. I love the cold. It felt real good. Like I said, this is my first time at Gillette Stadium. Hopefully I will have many years to come in this stadium.

Q: Did you have any battles with Dan Koppen?

VW: No. When I was a freshman I think he was a senior. He is a good athlete. That is one of the best offensive linemen I have played against. I am glad he is my teammate. Let's put it that way.

Q: Do you have a favorite Patriot?

VW: Willie McGinest. I can just remember back to when the Patriots needed a big play and he turned the ball game around. Every time I see him, I think about that. Any time I think about the Patriots I think about him making the big play and that is what I want to be. I think that is one of the first people that I want to shake hands with when I get here and just let him know that I love his style of play and I am glad that we are playing together. Also, of course Tom Brady. That is another awesome quarterback. He can control the game. I like his play.

Q: Do you feel like there are two Vince Wilfork's? Like the family man and then the ferocious football player, do you look at it like that?

VW: Yes, on the field I cannot be Mr. Nice Guy on the field. I have to do a job. My teammates are depending on me to make plays. When I am on the field, I am a different person than when I am with my wife and kids. I am relaxed off the field. On the field, I am [inaudible]. I think there are two Vince Wilfork's.

Q: You were saying you remember one time when you go into a fight with your brother in a scrimmage football game. Does that sort of demonstrate how serious you take football?

VW: Exactly. My brother and me got into it in high school but once we got off the field, we were brothers. If you line my brother up across from me, he is the enemy. That is how I take it. We can be friends after the fact but I have a job to do. My teammates depend on me and we are trying to win this game. That is how I take it. Afterwards, we are back to being brothers but on the field I am a different person.

Q: How spoiled did you get at Miami as far as winning?

VW: We didn't ever get spoiled winning. We worked just as hard when we won as when we lost. We probably got spoiled by winning all of the time and when we lost we probably took it to heart because we have such high expectations at the University of Miami to win. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Not the coaches, but we put the pressure on ourselves to win. It is hard to win and it is hard to be number one. Everybody is gunning for the number one and it is real hard. Ask Oklahoma.

Q: With that being said, I know you wanted to be drafted higher, but it is probably the perfect place for you the way they have won here and you are coming into the same winning mentality.

VW: Exactly. I dropped to 21 and I really questioned why. I got that thought out of my head real quick because if I were to pick a team to go to, it would be the New England Patriots because they know a lot about winning and they have won big games, every year they are in the playoffs so that says something about this team. They know how to do something right. It was the same thing at Miami. I am glad to be here. Hopefully I will be here for a long time. I am looking to move up here. I am just enjoying my time right now.

Q: Is it wild to come here and you have probably seen this stadium during this past playoffs, and see it up close?

VW: Yes.

Q: And to see it without any snow on it?

VW: Exactly. There are some things that you can think about and certain things come to your mind. Like when I think about the stadium, I think of smoke, the game, all of the games they have played in the snow, like I said, Willie McGinest making big plays in this stadium, the fans going crazy. They have a lot of background here. But I love to be here. I am happy to be here. Hopefully I will start and end my career here guys.

Q: Is that a picture of your mom and dad?

VW: Yes, at their high school prom.

Q: Can you talk about your decision to give your 2001 national championship ring to your dad?

VW: I had a thing for losing stuff. Everything I get, I lose - money, jewelry, I lose it. So my dad kept asking me, 'Look, let me hold the ring so you won't lose it.' I said, 'No, I am not going to lose this.' Being at my dad's sick bed at the last moments of his life, I saw that it really meant something to him and that is why I gave it to him. I gave it to him because I kind of felt that he was leaving. I don't have any regrets. I got it back from him. My mother wanted me to get it back because people probably would have gone into his casket when we left to get it out. I have it now locked up just for that reason. It was my dad's. Every time I look at that ring, I don't think about me winning the national championship I think about him. That is how I look at it. It is going to be in the safe and I am never going to wear it again.

Q: I read that you kept your mother's wedding ring as well. Are they in the same place?

VW: Yes

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