|Vince Wilfork on refs: ‘I don’t care about [anything] but Buffalo’||09.27.12 at 1:15 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It was a fairly predictable response Thursday. Nearly all players in the Patriots locker room had a very low-key reaction to the eight-year agreement between the NFL and its regular officials Wednesday night that ended one of the ugliest chapters in recent league history.
“My focus is on the Buffalo Bills, nothing else. Buffalo,” Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork said. “I don’t care about [anything] but Buffalo right now, plain and simple. We need to get back on track around here. Kind of forgot how it feels to win. All of my focus is on going to Buffalo and playing well. Hopefully, that’ll be good enough to win, so everything else, I really don’t care about.
“We have to focus quick because this team always plays us tough and it always seems like the first time we see them, they play us very, very tough. They’re very disciplined; they’re coached very well, play very hard, they make a lot of plays, and once again we’re on the road. Our backs are against the wall.”
Special teams captain Matthew Slater offered a little bit more insight. Slater this year replaced Tom Brady as the team’s player rep, so when the NFL Players Association spoke of player safety concerns, Slater was the one delivering the message to teammates.
“It’s obviously encouraging that they got that whole situation resolved,” Slater said. “It was really a tough situation for all parties involved. I don’t really think you can point the finger at anyone. Fortunately, they got it worked out, but we can’t spend too much time worrying about who’s calling the game, we just have to continue to prepare and do our jobs. I’m sure at some point we’re going to be mad or upset with a call these guys make. That’s just the reality of it. So, we just have to move on, but I’m happy things have resolved themselves, though.
“I think that’s big for us as players, to know that we’re out there with guys that are going to do their best to keep us safe by making the right calls, and it really comes down to player safety. We want to be safe out there on that field. We want to make sure the rules are being abided by and that we are taken care of and the game is fair for everybody involved.”
Slater was asked if it feels strange to be so happy to have regular officials back, officials players will no doubt have beefs with in the future.
“It does, definitely,” Slater said with a laugh. “”Those guys have a tough job to do. I know there were a lot of situations that came up with guys that were in there for them but they were put in a tough spot, they really were, and they did the best they could. But it’s good to have these guys back who’ve had some experience calling big games and been in tough situations, and now we’re all moving forward.”
The response of Nate Solder was more representative of the Patriots’ reaction.
“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Solder said with a laugh.
Asked if he’s confident that the returning officials will have a better sense of what’s happening in the trenches, the left tackle was non-committal.
“I’m not going to say much about that. I don’t know what’s going to happen with that,” Solder said.
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