Vince Wilfork: ‘I’m holding no type of grudge’ against Patriots
|06.19.14 at 2:43 pm ET|
FOXBORO — All is forgiven, if not forgotten, when it comes to Vince Wilfork and the Patriots.
The perennial Pro Bowl nose tackle spoke Thursday after the conclusion of minicamp for the first time since re-working his contract to return to New England.
Wilfork tore his right Achilles last September in Atlanta and was lost for the rest of the season.
Wilfork returned to Gillette Stadium to be around the team during his rehab but that loyalty didn’t immediately earn him the benefit of the doubt with the organization.
According to multiple reports, he felt slighted by the team and asked to be traded, going as far as removing his nameplate from his locker inside the Patriots locker room.
But after agreeing to a complicated, incentive-laden $23 million, three-year extension ($4 million signing bonus) in late March, Wilfork began the process of moving on. A big step in that process came this week when he stepped on the field for minicamp practices on Tuesday. On Thursday, he spoke for the first time about his return, making it clear that business is business and he’s all about football going forward.
“I’m here. That’s a dead issue,” Wilfork said. “I’m here for a reason. If I didn’t believe in the things that were brought to me, I wouldn’t have signed it. I’m here. There’s a reason that I’m here. I’m not upset. I’m not holding no type of grudge. Business is business. Everybody handles business different ways.
“But in my career, I think the right thing was for me to be up here with my family and my teammates and a staff that I’ve been around for so long, the organization that I know. It was just a smart decision for me and my family to be here. But if we think that it wouldn’t work, I wouldn’t be here. It’s a positive thing that I’m here. There’s no grudges. That’s something that happened a while ago. It’s the first time I’ve actually talked about it, but it’s a non-issue.”
As for his rehabbed right Achilles, Wilfork believes the mental hurdle will be much more of an issue than the physical one.
“At this level, everything I do is going be [about] with confidence,” Wilfork said. “I don’t think there’s anything that limits me, physically. A lot has to do with mentally go out and do it. The more I do it, the more confident I gain. With OTAs and the minicamps, the time that I spent with the guys, the time in drills, the time I spent with training staff, everything we do is for a reason. I can’t be any happier with where I’m at right now. For me, it’s continuing to build and knowing I’ll be ready to rock and roll hopefully come training camp. That’s my goal. My goal has always been there. Where I’m at now, I’m at a good spot.”
Wilfork did not test the Achilles in a soccer celebration at the end of the final minicamp practice Thursday. Bill Belichick brought the team together for a different kind of futbal, presumably in honor of the ongoing World Cup in Brazil.
“Bill always has a fun side to him,” Wilfork said. “Today was one of those days. Once we finished practicing and everything, he brought out soccer balls. I didn’t get in there. I don’t know how to kick a soccer ball. There are so many things you can do to bring a team together and I think Bill does a great job of that, finding whatever it may be he can do to bring a team together. Today was one of those things, the last day of minicamp, finished practice and he kind of surprised us with it so everybody was pretty pumped up and happy about it. It was fun. This game is meant to be fun and we definitely had fun today.”
Wilfork reiterated that he wanted no part of participating.
“No, heck no,” he said. “That ball moves way too fast for me. I’ll stick to football, the real football, American football. I’ll stick to that.”