Wilfork on D&H: ‘I played my tail off’
|01.27.10 at 2:29 pm ET|
Here is a transcript of the Vince Wilfork interview with Dale & Holley on Wednesday.
Where do you stand on contract negotiations with the Patriots?
If you call it talk. This past season and we didn’t like what they said, and basically it was no talk. It wasn’t a biggie for us. Like we told them, ‘I understand the situation you guys are in and all that,’ but we never asked for a six-year deal from the get-go. Right after we signed the six-year deal they came up with the rule of no six-year deal rule. Obviously someone was seeing something wrong with guys getting six-year deals, but hey, one thing I did was honor my contract. I went to work being a professional. It was hard to do but I went to work every day being a professional. I played my tail off. I enjoyed playing with my teammates. Pepper Johnson, I liked my D-line coach. I did everything on my end as a professional and I don’t regret anything I’ve done. If you want to call it talk what they did, you can call it talk but it wasn’t any talk. We’ll see where it goes from here, we still have time, whatever happens we will handle it accordingly. I did everything in my will power to get something done. Even with realizing that we wasn’t going to get something done throughout the whole year I went to work, I asked for it and doing what I do I played football. A lot of people were asking me why I was even here and play without a new contract. I signed up for a six-year deal and I honored it. I didn’t like the six-year deal but I did honor my six-year deal. Now that that deal is up, it’s time for me to move forward if that’s with the Patriots or without the Patriots. Like I always said, everything that is being done on our end is for my family. Family first, and that’s how we are going to approach as we always have.
Do you think it’s time the Patriots stop doing it the Patriots’ Way, given the number of players who have departed?
They know how I feel about my teammates and everything like that. Like I said, I wouldn’t have changed what I’ve done. If I had to do it all over again I’d do the same thing. I would have tried for a five-year deal, which we tried for, which we didn’t get and it’s one of the things I would have changed. I did everything the right way. The way it needed to be done. I want the same treatment. I want the same treatment and that’s not happening right now. That’s just how I’m looking at it. That’s the positive way I’m looking at it. I’m trying not to be negative on it because I could easily sit back and say that they are going to franchise me, that they are not going to give me the money because of all the guys that we lost over the years. Asante [Samuel] being one of them, [Richard] Seymour with the trade, [Adam] Vinatieri, [Deion] Branch, and then you have [Daniel] Graham, all these guys I’ve named were great players for the Patriots and they were in the same predicament as us but somehow or another they ended up with different teams. I don’t know how it played out but it played out like that. I could easily sit back and look at those guys and say, “Hey that’s what’s going to happen,” but who knows. We got a couple more weeks to find out what’s what and when we find out what’s what I’m pretty sure you guys will know what’s going on. I’m trying to keep it positive, that’s’ the only way that I can really look at it. I try to look at it in a positive light because if I look at it in a negative light I’d be really pissed.
What’s the negative side of being franchised by a team?
You don’t have that security that you want. A long term deal where your family is stationary for another three, four, or five years, you don’t get the signing bonus that you played all your career for, the big money, especially if there is a lockout season. Yeah, it’s decent money for most people out there. What I do, it’s OK. It’s OK, but I don’t look at myself as an OK player. It’s just a slap in my face and an insult to me to basically tell me that I’m an OK player. It is what it is. If it happens there is nothing I can do. We are going to handle it the best way that we know how to handle it and we will try and go forward with it in a positive way. But it won’t be nice on this end, but you have to live with it and try to make the best of it, so we’ll see.
With the uncertainty of the CBA and the future of the league, there are still some teams locking up franchise players.
Teams are doing it and they know teams are doing it. That’s my thing. You want to throw this whole thing that not knowing where the league is going. It didn’t stop other teams from locking in their key guys and making sure they were straight. They are their star players. You can sell that, but you need to go on the street and sell that to somebody else because I’m not buying it. I’m definitely not buying that one. They can save their breath if they are going to be saying that to me, and I’ll let it be known, but who knows. What’s going to be it going to be, hopefully it’s the right thing. I try to do the right thing. I raised my kids to do the right thing. You treat people the way you want to be treated. This is a business. I approached this whole situation in a different manner. Hopefully that will mean something at the end of the day, but if not, they’ll just tell me that I was just like everybody else and that won’t be good. I tell you right now that won’t be good.
Who do you speak with about contract negotiations now that Scott Pioli is gone?
They have a little team together. Between Floyd [Reese] when he was there, Bill [Belichik] and guys talk. I don’t care who gets it done as long as it gets done. I really don’t know. Either I want a long-term deal or I want to be free. Point blank. That’s how I’m looking at it, that’s how my family is looking at it. There’s a short window of opportunity for me to go and make the type of money that I want to make. Family comes first. Either the Patriots are going to do what’s right and do what’s comfortable for them. They’ll say what they’ll do and I’ll give them a yes or a no. We’ll move on from there. I’m not selling my family short or selling myself short just to stay to win and be part of a great organization. Winning is a big part of sports. But a lot of teams win a lot of teams win. We’ll see, we’ll see. I’m going to what’s best for my family. I will definitely not sell myself short of my ability, not at all.
What doesn’t this team have that the Saints or the Colts have?
Who knows? That’s a question for Bill. I don’t want to sit back and give a state of the Patriots because that is not my job. I’m pretty sure Bill can answer that, they the ones bring in players, bringing in who they think can fit in and play for us. I thought we had a pretty good week of practice. I think the preparation was good, I think the game plan was good we just didn’t execute. Defensively we couldn’t stop the run. We couldn’t stop the run and that was one of our biggest things right there. We were playing on short field the whole game also, so that’s another thing where you can’t have that either. We just didn’t play good team football, and we paid for it. The Ravens came in and did what they wanted to do, obviously run the ball and control the ball, which they did. At times it was easy for them to do that. We made our job a lot harder. We dug ourselves a hole that we tried to climb out of, so we paid for it and we couldn’t overcome it. That’s something where you have to look at it and learn from it, and basically try to play better as a unit. Not just as an offense, defense or special teams, you have to win games together. I think this year was inconsistent most of the time this year. We had problems, we were very inconsistent in different areas. We had some guys doing it the right way and other guys doing it the wrong way, very inconsistent. We have to more consistent at this level and that’s one thing that these two teams playing for the Super Bowl are. They are very consistent football teams. Very good football teams, very well coached football teams, two good organizations and hands down the two best teams all year in the NFL are playing in the Super Bowl. I think everybody, the fans and everybody got exactly what they want, the two best teams in the Super Bowl. There were no upsets where they didn’t think that this team was going to make it. All year these teams did it and they both beat us so hey you got the best show on turf right now. The New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts. They are going to be playing ball and its well deserved for both organizations.
How do you look back and judge this defensive unit this past year?
Inconsistent. Very inconsistent, it’s all of the above. The lack of pass rush, being confused at times, not tackling well, stopping the run when you need to stop the run, not getting off the field on third down when you need to. All those things played a part and we had problems in all those areas this year. When you are inconsistent you are going to have an up and down season, which we had. We were very inconsistent and it showed. We played up and down, some games we looked good, some games we looked terrible. You have to be a consistent football team, you have to be more consistent every day, every week, day in and day out. You have to be consistent to win and we just didn’t have enough of it this year.
If you are back who would you like to be the defensive coordinator: Matt Patricia, Pepper Johnson or someone else?
I think they both can step in and pick up the slack and handle that position well. I’m pretty sure, Bill, whoever he wants to be there will be there. They both are well deserving of it. I know Pepper is well deserving of it. He’s been there a while. He’s been our linebackers’ coach, he’s been our defensive line coach. He played the game. He understands the defense and that’s one thing I always give credit to him, where he is player-coach. He played the game so he understands some of the things that are going on, on the field. He understands when we [have a conversation] about this is what’s happening he understands why it’s happening, because he was in the same position at one point in time when he was playing ball. It’s the same defense he played in New York with the Giants. He has a lot of insight and is very knowledgeable about that defense.
Both dudes really know the game, but I think Pep he really knows it the best because he’s played under Bill. I think all his life in Pop Warner and everything he played the 3-4 defense. I think the 3-4 defense got named after him or something because of how long he’s been playing in it. They both know the defense but I think Pep just from being a player and playing under Bill Belichick I think he knows it a little better.
Who’s the guy that can be the leader on this defense in the future?
[Jerod] Mayo first of all is well capable of it. Ty Warren is a leader and you have [Brendon] Meriweather back there that’s coming into his own that can be a leader. I don’t think there is any lack of leadership from this team, especially the defensive side. Yes we lost some key guys like Seymour, Rodney [Harrison], [Tedy] Bruschi, [Mike] Vrabel, we lost some big time guys that leadership role is a lot bigger to patch up losing those guys and we understand that. It took those guys a while to lead also, they didn’t come into the league and they became leaders or anything like that. They played to the point and a lot of people respect the way they played. They knew what they were doing. They knew what the offense was doing. There preparation was great and they wanted to get people better around them. I think we have guys on the defense where they come in to where they can get guys better. They knew the defense where they can put people in position to make a play or look at the offensive set or formation and knew what was coming. Those guys are leaders coming into their own but they are not the big time leaders that everyone was used to. We are going to need more going forward, but that’s a good start with them and I think they have to get better and I think it will get better.
Do you consider yourself a leader?
Yes, I do. I think there are all different types of leaders. Some leaders like to talk, the vocal leaders, and there are some leaders that do their talking on the field. They lead by example. I think I’m one of the ones who go out there and do my job and I don’t want to talk much. I’ll talk here and there, but I’m not a big talker. I lead by example I do the right thing on the field. I try to be in the position where I need to be at all times. My preparation is good and everything. I try to get people better around me and I think it rubbed off. Playing with a guy like Jarvis Green and Ty Warren next to me and Mike Wright they can come in and they see how we work. They understand, they are in the same room as us, they see what we are seeing. Going to a front seven meeting with Bill and [Gary] Guyton and those guys right there, I think they see and understand what is going on. But you have all types of different leaders and I’m one of the ones where I’m not vocal, I just like to lead by example.
We are glad you got to the Pro Bowl, but we probably won’t be watching.
It’s a vacation that’s all. I’m in 80 degrees weather, you are in minus 80 degree weather.
What’s the next step in contract talks?
I think the last time we talked contract was the beginning of the season. I told them let’s talk after the season because I didn’t think this is going anywhere, so I didn’t want to keep going back-and-forth because it’s not going anywhere. So we ended that all the way at the beginning of the season and I don’t know the next we’ll start talking. I guess when they pick up the phone and it gets important to them.
So they might pick it up after this interview?
That’s fine, too. They got all my numbers, they got my agent’s number, too. I’m not sitting by the phone waiting for them to call. Either they call or they don’t. They got all the numbers that they need. I’m enjoying my family and the offseason with my family right now, so whenever they call they call. I have my phone. I have seven phones and they got all of them, so I’ll talk to them when I talk to them.
Why do you have so many phones?
I have one phone. But Bianca got a phone. My agent got a phone, he got an office phone. I got a house phone. I got a house phone in Florida. So there’s a bunch of numbers they have that one of them we will be too.
Maybe they called one of those numbers and you weren’t around one of them?
They can get me. They can call either one of those numbers and they can get me. Trust me, it ain’t lacking on our end.
What’s your approach to the Pro Bowl?
It’s a good time to be playing with the best players in your game. Everybody has fun, everybody enjoys it and that’s what you have to do. You have to enjoy it because it’s more like a family setting, family thing where your family can come down and enjoy the festivities with you. You can enjoy meeting new guys throughout the league and just have a good time together. I think everybody is actually doing that. I was telling people the other day before our first practice that everybody is happy. Nobody’s talking about how maybe we should have been in Hawaii or why are down here. I think everybody is having fun and happy just to be down here. We will see where we go from here and it’s just a good time, a nice vacation to have with a bunch of guys that play football with you and against you sometimes.
Does having it the week before the Super Bowl have an affect on the Pro Bowl?
That’s the sucky party, because guys that are in the Super Bowl won’t have a chance to play in it or whatever. But I’m pretty sure that they would rather be playing in the Super Bowl then be in the Pro Bowl. You still get to get your nomination where the guys that are in the Super Bowl will still be recognized, so that’s still a good thing.
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