Draft day memories: Vince Wilfork recalls reaching the pinnacle
|04.26.12 at 12:09 am ET|
On a sunny April afternoon, Vince Wilfork waited for what seemed like an eternity to find out his fate, as selection after selection were broadcast on ESPN’s telecast of the 2004 NFL draft. With the 21st selection, the Patriots snagged Wilfork, the fifth of a talented quintet of players from perennial college football powerhouse Miami.
Upon hearing his name called by then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue, one of Wilfork’s longest-running childhood dreams came to fruition.
‘I remember growing up, 4 years old, and telling my father that this is what I wanted to do,’ Wilfork said. ‘And now 30 years later and nine years into the league, it’s an amazing feeling. It was a dream I had as a youngster, and my dream came true.’
The 2012 NFL draft opens Thursday night and promises to be chock full of blue-chip defensive talent. Most mock drafts, including WEEI.com’s latest, have the Patriots taking defensive players with both of their first round draft choices. Names of potential defensive stars like Claiborne, Barron and Kuechly are virtual locks to be selected. But Wilfork advises that these players should not look at their selection as an opportunity to rest on one’s laurels.
‘Each one of those young men needs to understand that that is a life-changing moment,’ Wilfork said. ‘Whoever gets a chance to be a part of this league should know that it’s a privilege.’
Being drafted into the NFL is something that only a very select few get to experience. According to Wilfork, inclusion into this select fraternity, especially the Foxboro chapter, is not something a young player should take lightly.
‘This is a business. This is your life. This is what you do,’ Wilfork said. ‘A lot of people laugh, but this is our job; we get paid to play football. The quicker that they understand that this is a business, the better off they’ll be.’
The 2011 season ended with a sour taste in the Patriots’ mouths after losing to the Giants 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI, a tape of which Wilfork has not watched. The Patriots defensive captain has effectively erased the game from his memory and sees the slate as wiped clean as he prepares for the 2012 season.
‘We’re starting a whole new season. After that game, the season was over,’ Wilfork said. ‘There’s not much you can do about that game or that season, now. It’s about what you can do this season. Every team starts out on the same plain. Thirty-two teams work themselves up, and hopefully we can be on the other end of it.’
Wilfork was in Agawam Wednesday night as the Western Massachusetts Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America held its annual awards gala. The Patriots lineman was not only the dinner’s keynote speaker, but spoke of his scouting days growing up in Florida.
‘Being a scout is a hands-on thing,’ Wilfork said. ‘They teach you to become an adult. It was definitely a fun time in my life. I think it’ll make these guys better men as they grow up,’ he added.
The Western Massachusetts Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America served 7,200 youth in the last year and reaches four counties in the Commonwealth.