|Vince Wilfork: Celtics, Patriots have one thing in common: ‘A lot of heart’||05.31.12 at 7:44 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Vince Wilfork is a frequent courtside attendee of Celtics games TD Garden. He has friends and acquaintances on the team.
So, Wednesday night’s loss hurt him just like everyone else in Boston. He was able to put that in the past Thursday morning on the practice fields as Patriots OTAs continued outside Gillette Stadium.
“Absolutely I watched it,” the veteran nose tackle said. “I couldn’t believe we blew a 15-point lead. That’s heartbreaking, but they’re fighting hard. They’re fighting really hard, I still have faith and hopefully we can pull two away at home and get it back to even. [I’m] a big fan and I’m pulling for them.”
He was watching when Rajon Rondo was hit in the head by Dwyane Wade with 1:35 left in overtime and the score tied, 105-105, only to have no foul called.
“Oh man, that’s a fine. Out here that’s a fine,” Wilfork said, half tongue-in-cheek. “I wish them all the luck in the world. They’ve fought through a lot of battles and I’m pretty sure character is going to play a lot going into these next couple of games and how well they can play as a team. [It’s] the same thing we do, how well we play as a team, I think you perform better [when] you trust teammates. I’m pulling for them.”
But besides just cheering for them, Wilfork can’t help but see some admirable qualities in their playoff approach, qualities he likes to think his own team has.
“A lot of heart,” Wilfork said. “We play with a lot of heart and they play with a lot of heart. It’s a tough football team and a tough basketball team but when you surround yourself with good people, good athletes and a good organization, people seem to flock to you. People want to come there and be a part of something that’s good and they have something that’s special. A lot of people wrote them off a long time ago and we’ve been written off around here a lot also, so it really doesn’t matter what people say, it’s all about that locker room.
“That’s what it comes down to – in that locker room, playing for one another and for the team. Hopefully they can get it done. I’ll be there. I’m pulling. I’m a big fan and they have a bunch of fans in my household. Hopefully they can get it done.”
Four months removed from losing the Super Bowl and coming that close in the last two minutes, Wilfork was asked about the effect it has on him, individually, and what kind of effect does it have on the team.
“No effect,” Wilfork said, almost defiantly. “It has no effect on me. You start back from where you started before, from zero. That’s where I’m at now. You really can’t dwell over spoiled milk. Last year was last year, that’s how you have to look at it and keep rolling. You have to be a professional. When it comes down to it you have to be a professional about everything and that plays a big part now. We have to be able to move forward.
“I’ve moved forward and I’m excited to play football. This is my life and this is what I dreamed of doing. I’m back at it, we’re back it and we’re having fun doing it. [I’ve] been running a couple of routes and look good out there. Tom [Brady] gave me a couple of balls, looked pretty good out there.”
Wilfork joked about catching passes from Tom Brady but he actually has unique perspective on what Wes Welker is going through. He said on Thursday at Patriots’ organized team activities that he supports his teammate is back with the team only after agreeing to sign his franchise tender. Wilfork did not attend the team’s OTAs in 2009 as he held out for a more permanent deal, which eventually materialized after he was franchised in early 2010.
Welker, on the other hand, was in attendance Thursday and has been taking part in team activities.
“Wes is going to handle his situation however he wants to handle it,” Wilfork said. “Everybody is different. You can’t fault anybody for handling their business so I’ll let Wes’ business be Wes’ business. I’ll let Wes speak on his situation with that.
“I’m happy to have him. He’s the best receiver in the game, coming off the years he’s had. He’s one of our best players and one of the best players in the league. I’m happy he’s back rolling with us, at least for another year.”
Wilfork signed his five-year, $40 million deal before the 2010 season, including $25 million in guaranteed money. Welker signed his franchise tender in mid-May, guaranteeing him $9.5 million for the 2012 season.
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