Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, April 16, 2008.
Q: How has the offseason conditioning program been going?
VW: It's going wonderful. This year I started early on my diet. Normally I wait until further down the line to start it, but I think it's best for me to start it this early. It's the first time I'm starting it this early, so I'm going to see. I'm feeling good and the workouts are coming along well. The team's coming along well. Hopefully everything will pan out for us.
Q: Have you lost weight already?
VW: Yeah. I've lost a couple of pounds. I've lost about 10 pounds already. But, I want to bulk up this year. Conditioning is a huge area when playing this sport, especially for me, being able to stay on the field as long as I can. That's always going to be a big goal for me in my career from here on out and even past football. That's going well. I'm looking forward to the draft and meeting my new teammates. I'm looking forward to everything. We've started getting on a roll. It starts now, so we're out doing a hell of a job now to be ready in August.
Q: Has there been a sense of real purpose in these workouts because of any quote-unquote unfinished business from last year?
VW: Every year you go into the offseason and go into camp wanting to get better. You always look at film and see what you can get better at. We lost the Super Bowl. That was a goal of ours to win. Every team that's in this league, that's the goal, to win the big dance. We came up short last year and we're going to do whatever it takes to get back there and try to win. We're all starting on the same playing field. We're all starting 0-0 and we just have to climb the ladder. At the end of the day, there's going to be two teams left. It's a long time away from that, but you have to start now, getting everything in order leading up to that time. When that time presents itself, we have to be ready for it. Hopefully we will. We're working hard for it. I don't expect anything other than hard work from everybody in there in the offseason, having a great offseason and taking that into camp.
Q: Given that it's a new year, has there been any time to look back on last season?
VW: Not really, to be honest with you. We did a couple of good things last year, but you play this game for one thing and one thing only and that's the Super Bowl, which we lost. To me personally - I can't speak for the team and I can't speak for Bill [Belichick] - I think we just fell short of our goal. Whatever we have to do to get back to that level and win, I'm willing to do. I'm pretty sure come training camp, it's going to be in the back of everybody's mind. The whole season, it's going to be in the back of everybody's mind. Me as a person, I think we just came up short. 18-0 really doesn't mean anything to me. 18-0 doesn't put a ring on my finger. Whatever it takes to get back to that level of play for me to help my ballclub, that's what I'm going to do. I'm working hard this offseason to do that.
Q: The defining play of the Super Bowl - Eli Manning's throw to David Tyree - do you ever play that back in your mind at all?
VW: No. That was a great catch and a great throw. There was good pressure by our defense. You really can't see anything wrong with that play, to be honest with you. He made a catch. An unbelievable catch. He made the throw with a guy hanging on him. Moments like that, you can't be mad at yourself. It was up for grabs and we had every opportunity in the world to close the chapter, but the Giants came out and they fought until the final seconds and walked away victorious. You've got to give credit where credit is due. But this year, like I say, we're starting from the same level. They were champs last year, but it's a whole new season. It's a new ballclub. There are new guys rolling in here. It's going to be a tough one, but it starts now in the offseason.
Q: Have you watched that play?
VW: I haven't watched the Super Bowl yet. I don't plan on watching it either. So like I said, that's in the past and we've got to move forward. There are probably some things we can learn from it, but there are a bunch of things that we can learn from throughout the course of the season. I'm pretty sure that through training camp we'll probably take plays from there and also from other places to use as a teaching tool and to learn from and to move on. But to sit down and watch the whole 60 minutes of that ballgame, I don't think that's necessary.
Q: You've been doing your draft party for quite a few years now.
VW: It's the fifth year this year.
Q: Understanding that it has a personal basis, losing your father to the effects of diabetes, how has the response been? Do you feel like people really understand it and are getting on board with you on this?
VW: Yeah. I'm getting a lot of support, especially from my organization. Family, friends, fans, media … I think everybody understands what diabetes is and what it does. The one thing that hurts me the most - my father, he suffered from it for 12, 13 years - but when I get a kid coming to my house and he's six, seven years old and he's got juvenile diabetes, that's very touching. I have two kids of my own, a 10-year-old and a five-year-old, and they're very healthy. I'm very blessed. I'm pretty healthy, my wife's pretty healthy, my kids are healthy. But seeing a kid go through what I've seen my father go through for 12 or so years, that's very touching to me. I've made it my point to do something about it, and that's why I have this draft day party. On the same token, it's to raise money for diabetes and to come out and have a good time, bowl and to enjoy meeting some players, enjoy meeting my family and my friends and to just kick back and see how I am off the field. I'm a normal person. Sometimes people don't understand that we are normal. I live a normal life. A lot of people don't understand that because I'm playing all the time. I think it's one thing that I can do to give back to the community. Give back to DRI [Diabetes Research Institute]. It's something that's close to my heart because of the effects that I've seen in my own household. It's just a chance for people to get to know me. Anyone who's interested can go to my website, vincewilfork75.com. For more information, you can go to pinzbowl.com. It's not for me. It's for DRI and fans and friends. We'll have a good time, I can guarantee you that.
Q: Talk about how much this draft party has grown since the first time you had one on the day you were drafted.
VW: It's getting bigger and bigger. Every year it's better and better. I think last year we raised close to $50,000. I think we're almost close to that now and draft day isn't here yet. Every year I'm proud. Every year there are different people coming on board. Thanks to you guys, you've given me media coverage and are putting out stuff for me all the time. People don't realize, I actually promote it myself. I'm a hands-on type of guy. Me and my kids, we actually get out and hand out flyers ourselves. I don't have anyone do my dirty work for me. I'm out working also. That's the type of person I am. I really enjoy it because … Just to see a kid walking into their house and I'm stopping by in my car getting out with a piece of paper and they're just looking at me, like, "That's Vince Wilfork!" It's amazing, just to see people's facial expressions. Everybody thinks that we're different, but I'm no different than you guys. I just have a different job title, that's all. I'm happy with the rate it's going, the way it's going, and hopefully I can raise a bunch of money and help out a bunch of people, especially the kids.
Q: Because you can live with diabetes for 50, 60, 70 years, do you feel that the general public doesn't really understand how serious the disease is?
VW: Yeah. Exactly. Like I said, I saw my father suffer for 12 years. Every year, it went from losing eyesight to hearing to limbs, to toes, to every month losing something. It was basically just seeing my father die slowly. That's what it came to. My brother and I … I was nine or 10 years old and had to carry my father to the bathroom because he was so weak he couldn't walk. A lot of people don't understand that because people live with it. I mean, it's doable, don't get me wrong, but at the same time it can get out of hand if you don't take care of it. It can get out of hand. That's what we're trying to prevent. We're trying to make sure that people are aware of what it can cause. Over the past years, by doing what I'm doing and everybody else doing what they do, I think a lot of people are starting to look at it in a different light now. It's starting to raise eyebrows, because every year somebody different is coming to me and telling me about their friends, family or somebody that just got diagnosed with it, or whose had it for this long and it got better thanks to all the research. The thing about being in Boston is that we've got one of the best doctors around up there at Mass General. A lot of people come here and they've got a great medical staff up there. That helps us out also.
Q: You mentioned that you're glad to be healthy. How much of that goes through your mind when you start your offseason diet?
VW: That's the main thing that goes through my mind. Life after football, that's my biggest key. While I'm playing football, it's easy to come shed pounds, get stronger and be well conditioned. But, when I stop playing football I don't know what my weight's going to do. I'm trying to train my body now so that whenever I do decide to retire, it's not a struggle for me or my body's already used to it and it's a natural habit that I have, losing weight. It's going to come one day. I'm going to have to give this game up. I hate to say it, but that's the truth. When it happens, I have to be prepared for whatever's in store for me, knowing my family history of high blood pressure, diabetes, sugar and all that good stuff. I have to stay on top of that now. That's one of the main things why I'm so dedicated to the offseason program, to make sure that I'm healthy and I stay that way. I'm trying to create better habits for me and my family, to be honest with you.
Q: When you get fined, do you think that creates the wrong impression of you? Does it bother you that people maybe think of you like that?
VW: I can really sit up here and say that people who know me, guys in this room who really know me, who have had conversations with me - and that's most of you - you know the type of person I am. I never get bad media coverage from you guys. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. But, things I do on the field are not part of my everyday life. I don't play football when I leave this stadium. I'm a totally opposite person. I'm a madman on the field, but at the same time, I'm loyal to the game. I love the game and I play it with so much tense that it's unbelievable. I think sometimes people look at me and say, "Oh, he's such a dirty player, blah, blah." I'm not. I love what I do. Every fine I got this year, man, I don't want to talk about that. Every fine I got this year, I had a great chance to argue and I did - aside from the [Brandon] Jacobs one, that was just stupid on my behalf - but everything else was ridiculous. But, what can you do? I wont stop being the player I am because I play with a lot of emotion. Those guys that I did get fines on … Buffalo, [J.P.] Losman, I talked with him the second game and there are no hard feelings there. Even Jacobs, we talked during the Super Bowl, during a timeout. No hard feelings there. The face mask with San Diego, no hard feelings there with [Michael] Turner. These guys know me. The guys that I play with know me. My coaching staff knows me. You guys know me. Those are the only people I'm really concerned about. Anyone else, I don't really care.
Q: Do you take it somewhat as a compliment when someone says, "Vince Wilfork, he's a bad dude out there"?
VW: It can mean a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how they're using it. I don't think I'm marked. I don't think I have a history of being a bad player. Last year was a bad experience, getting fines. But at the same token, I had to take it and roll with it because it's who I am. It didn't take away from any of my game. I continued to play hard. At the end of the day, I was satisfied with my play. There are a lot of things that I can get better at - that's why you have the offseason. I'm looking forward to going forward with all of this. Hopefully, this year [knocks on side of podium], no more fines.
Q: Are there still tickets available for the fundraiser?
VW: Oh yeah. Pinzbowl.com. Tickets are available. Also check out my website for more information, vincewilfork75.com, for information on draft day and anything else that I have coming up. Thank you guys, for your time.
NOTE: On Saturday, April 26, Vince Wilfork and his wife, Bianca, will hold the 5th Annual Vince Wilfork Draft Day Fundraiser Party at Pinz Entertainment in Milford, Mass. From 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. attendees will have the opportunity to meet Wilfork and several of his teammates as they wait to see which players the Patriots will select. A live and silent auction with premium Patriots items will take place, with all proceeds benefiting the Diabetes Research Institute.