|Magnificent 7: On Hall of Fame weekend, these current and former Patriots deserve consideration for Canton||08.07.16 at 6:37 pm ET|
On Hall of Fame weekend, here are seven current and former Patriots who deserve to be a part of the conversation when it comes to Canton.
Bill Belichick: There will be some critics who don’t agree, but as his boat reminds us, Belichick has won four titles as a head coach and two as an assistant. That’s six rings. SIX. That should be enough to gain entry on the first ballot, critics be damned.
Tom Brady: There will inevitably be some Deflategate drama when his name is raised, but four Super Bowl wins and a pair of MVPs should be enough to get him through on the first ballot.
Ty Law: I wasn’t a big believer in the possibility of a Law candidacy for the Hall. But a closer look at the numbers over the last few seasons reveals the fact that he’s at least worthy of a debate. His resume is pretty impressive, especially when stacked against others in Canton: Three Super Bowl rings, two All-Pro nods and 53 career picks, which puts him 24th on the all-time list. He was a semifinalist last year, but might need an advocate — like Ron Borges, who worked hard to get Andre Tippett in — if he wants to make it.
Adam Vinatieri: The automatic default is to reject the idea of a kicker in the Hall of Fame. But when it comes to Vinatieri, it’s hard to go against him. The best big game kicker of his generation, Vinatieri has played in five Super Bowls and won four rings. Two Super Bowl titles were ultimately decided on the strength of his right leg. When all is said and done, he should become the second pure kicker to reach the Hall. (Jan Stenrud is the only pure placekicker in the Hall of Fame. George Blanda and Lou Groza are also in Canton, but also did other things in addition to their work as kickers.)
Randy Moss: If Moss doesn’t get in, they should shut the place down. He’s second all-time in receiving touchdowns with 156 (trailing only Jerry Rice), third in all-time receiving yards (behind Rice and Terrell Owens) and 11th on the list of all-time catches (982). He’s got his detractors — he doesn’t have a signature moment, which many Hall voters require when it comes to wide receiver — but come on. He was an absolutely transformative presence for a decade.
Vince Wilfork: We’ve been on this for a while now, but it’s worth reiterating that because of his longevity and his track record as an absolutely vital part of a consistently good-to-great team over the course of a decade, he deserves a spot in the discussion when his time comes. The voters aren’t crazy about interior defensive linemen who don’t pile up sack numbers — most of the linemen who have gotten a spot have either been big sack guys or other defensive ends — and so he’s probably a long shot. (Nose tackles are few and far between.) As a result, Like Law, Wilfork probably needs to have someone advocating for him in the room when he comes up for discussion.
Gino Cappelletti: One of the best players of his era, Cappelletti played wide receiver and kicker for the Patriots for 10 years, and led the American Football League in scoring five times. (He retired as the AFL’s all-time leading scorer with 1,130 points.) The 1964 AFL Most Valuable Player played receiver and kicker, he was the face of the franchise throughout the 1960s, and had one of the most memorable careers of any of the old AFL stars.
Also worthy of consideration but failed to make the cut here for various reasons: Rob Gronkowski (who could be on the list sooner rather than later if he continues on his current path for another couple of years), Willie McGinest, Wes Welker, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour.
|New model Vince Wilfork issues challenge to Tom Brady, Gisele||06.29.16 at 1:49 pm ET|
Former Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork will make his modeling debut in this year’s edition of The Body Issue in “ESPN: The Magazine.” In a video he posted to Instagram on Wednesday, he issued a good-natured challenge to his former teammate and his supermodel wife.
|Ex-Patriots DL Vince Wilfork will be part of ESPN’s ‘Body Issue’||06.21.16 at 2:14 pm ET|
Former Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork is one of a handful of athletes who will appear in this year’s edition of ESPN: The Magazine’s “Body Issue.”
The big fella, who played in New England for 11 years prior to the start of the 2015 season, is part of a group of athletes posing for the issue, which will hit newsstands in early July.
Wilfork told Texans PR: “I know I don’t have the six-packs and the eight-packs and all that … but I’m perfectly fine with what I am. … If people can look at me, look at a guy that’s 325-plus doing an issue like this, I’m pretty sure they might have a little confidence after seeing that it’s OK to be who you are.”
|Patriots rookie DL Vincent Valentine aims to quiet rumors about commitment, consistency||05.13.16 at 11:13 am ET|
FOXBORO — You spend a few minutes with rookie Vincent Valentine and it becomes clear that the Patriots have again filled their “Big Vince” quota.
Of course, while Vince Wilfork is destined to go down as one of the greatest players in franchise history, Valentine’s NFL career is still in its nascent stages. But after meeting the media on Thursday at Gillette Stadium, it’s clear the 6-foot-4, 329-pound Valentine has the size and at least a small part of the quotability and forthright approach that distinguished Wilfork when he was in the same stages of his development.
Known as a penetrating tackle who has played multiple spots along the defensive front, Valentine finished his college career at Nebraska with 76 tackles, including 14.5 for loss, as well as seven sacks. His best year was 2014 when he 45 tackles and three sacks.
“This guy’s a big guy,” Patriots personnel guru Nick Caserio said of Valentine shortly after he was selected by New England. “When you watch Nebraska, you’re actually watching he and Maliek Collins, who the Cowboys took there at the top of the third round. You’re talking about two NFL defensive tackles.
“They’re a little bit different. Collins is a little bit more undersized, little bit more of a two or three technique. Valentine actually played anywhere from zero all the way out to five techniques. He’s primarily an interior defensive tackle, but very strong, very physical, good run player (and) well-coached.”
On Thursday, Valentine was straight with reporters who brought up questions about his commitment level, which some believe caused his fall all the way to the third round, where the Patriots scooped him up with the 96th overall selection.
“I look at myself in the mirror and tell myself if I work hard this day, I’m fine. If not, I’ve got to get better the next day,” he said. “I just take it day by day. I just kind of tune out everybody that has opinions about me, and use it as motivation to get better.”
He added: “I had to convince everybody. That was the word on the street about me. Just trying to convince everybody that I’m ready to work, I’m ready to be a pro. I’m ready to put in all the work you need me to do. It wasn’t just the focus for New England. It was the focus for everybody, and for myself also.”
When it comes to pure strength, there doesn’t seem to be a question, especially when you check out this Instagram video of him squatting through a 745-pound lift this offseason.
“My legs have always been a strong point of (my game) — focusing on squats and being strong with my base,” he said. “I play d-line, and so that’s like one of the most important things to have. Just one of those things I focused on and tried to get better at every day.”
To this point, he certainly seems to have gotten off to a good start with the Patriots.
“It’s been amazing — this is a great organization,” he said. “I’m excited to put in work and get better each day. That’s always been the goal. I’m just excited to be around everybody and coach (Bill) Belichick and learn from the best.
“It’s a whole new world. It’s a new experience for all (the rookies),” he added. “We just want to get better and learn and grow each day. That’s the goal. That’s what we’ve been working on. The older guys are helping us along and bringing us on the right track.”
|Dolphins’ decision to extend DE Cameron Wake symbol of cap conundrum for teams with veterans||05.09.16 at 12:25 pm ET|
Team-building means different things to different franchises. But one basic difference between the way the Patriots operate and the way the Dolphins go about their business was illustrated recently when Miami decided to give 34-year-old defensive end Cameron Wake a two-year extension.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the deal is worth $15 million, including $10 million fully guaranteed at signing, with the possibility of the deal growing to $17 million before the end of the contract.
Wake, who is coming off a torn Achilles tendon that limited him to seven games in 2015, is accorded as one of the better pass rushers of the last five years — his 18.5 sacks since the start of the 2014 season is tied for 13th-best in the league in that span.
The former CFL star and four-time Pro Bowler offered a message for Dolphins’ fans after he agree to the new contract.
“Hey, what’s up Dolphins fans? It’s your boy Cameron Wake here,” he said. “I just finished some business up. You’ve got me for two more years. I’m really excited about what’s on the horizon for myself and the Dolphins and the whole family. I’m really excited to be a big part of this team, to go out there and make sure we win a lot of games for you guys. We appreciate the support. Keep it up, and we will do the same.”
There are some who might argue that giving Wake so much guaranteed money is a Lifetime Achievement Award for a player who has had such success the last few years with Miami. And when you throw in the fact that pass-rushing defensive ends are getting paid similar rates, you could make a case for the new deal.
But from this viewpoint, giving such a sizable sizable contract to a defensive lineman on the plus-side of 30 coming off a season-ending injury illustrates why the Dolphins are in the position they are in. Schefter said Miami gifted Wake with the new deal “for what he’s done and will do.” While no one is questioning the bonafides of a player like Wake, paying a 34-year-old for past performance instead of future return is the sort of move that can hinder your financial flexibility moving forward.
Contrast Wake’s situation with defensive lineman Vince Wilfork. Last offseason, the longtime Patriot ended up leaving New England and starting anew with the Texans at the age of 33. Like Wake, he also had a season-ending Achilles’ issue of his own in the not-too-distant past. Of course, Wilfork’s on-field numbers aren’t in the same ballpark as Wake, but in terms of what Wilfork delivered in terms of leadership, he was certainly in the same neighborhood as the Dolphins’ defender. (In fact, based on Schefter’s quote, you could argue that for everything Wilfork did for the Patriots’ franchise, he certainly deserved a payday similar to the one wake received from Miami.)
Whether or not Wake’s deal turns out to be a sound one remains to be seen — he could rebound at an advanced age and become a Pro Bowler once again. But from this viewpoint, the decision illustrates one of the reasons why the Dolphins have had the sort of cap and personnel issues that they’ve had over the last few years.
|Terrance Knighton: My heart told me to sign with New England||04.06.16 at 4:53 pm ET|
Washington or New England?
That was the decision defensive tackle Terrance Knighton faced last week, as initially Washington, the team he played for last year said they weren’t interested, but once the Patriots got involved the Redskins were back in the mix to sign him.
In the end Knighton signed with New England, as he himself announced the signing on his Twitter account last Thursday night. Knighton was born in Connecticut and is a self-noted Celtics fan.
“I just prayed on it,” he said on a conference call Wednesday. “I talked to a lot of my family and I followed my heart and my heart just told me to go to New England.”
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to play for a team that I loved to watch growing up,” Knighton said. “… [I’m excited] having a fresh new start and play for this great coaching staff and I am looking forward to meeting the guys.”
One of the biggest issues for Knighton in Washington last year was his weight, as he’s listed at 355 pounds. He said he spent a lot of time speaking with members of the Patriots about it and said it wouldn’t be an issue as there is a plan in place. He added there are weight clauses in his contract.
The 29-year-old has 148 tackles and 14 sacks in his seven years in the league and will only help the Patriots’ defensive line which already has solid, young players in Dominique Easley and Malcom Brown.
“I pride myself in playing many different styles. Obviously the Patriots are known for having a lot of different looks on defense,” Knighton said. “I’m just going to come in and work as hard as I can and try and get acclimated to the system. I know there is going to be a lot I have to learn — this being my fourth team. I will have to come in and learn the playbook, listen to the coaches, ask a lot of questions — that is what I usually do being a new guy. There will be a lot of different things and like I said, I am coming in open-minded and ready to learn as much as I can.”
|Half of Patriots team helps former teammate Aqib Talib celebrate wedding||03.28.16 at 1:13 pm ET|
Just because they aren’t teammates anymore doesn’t mean Aqib Talib and the Patriots players aren’t still close.
And while it wasn’t exactly half of the Patriots team, a number of current and past Patriots players attended Talib’s wedding over the weekend including Devin McCourty, Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, Duron Harmon and LeGarrette Blount.
See some of the Instagram posts for proof:
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