|A familiar ring: Current, former Patriots gather for lavish ceremony to celebrate Super Bowl XLIX win||06.14.15 at 11:19 pm ET|
In the latest chapter of an eventful offseason, the Patriots got their Super Bowl XLIX rings in a ceremony at Robert Kraft’s home in Brookline on Sunday night, part of an evening that included several former players reuniting with their old mates to celebrate the championship.
“I have been blessed to host four Super Bowl ring ceremonies, and just like the rings we present, we have tried to make each ceremony a little bigger and a little better than the one before,” Kraft said. “Football is the consummate team sport. These championship rings represent all that the team endured and overcame together. The players on this team will forever be bound by the memories this ring represents.
“The presentation of the rings is one of my favorite moments. I love watching the expressions on the faces of each of our players and the range of emotions they experience when they see the ring for the first time and the pride they all have when they put it on. Tonight’s celebration is really a culmination of a job well done.”
Of the four ring ceremonies, this was the third held at Kraft’s home. The one held in June 2002 to celebrate the win over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI was part of a team get-together at a private waterfront ceremony at the Boston Harbor Hotel.
While former players like Vince Wilfork and Tim Wright apparently made the journey to celebrate with their now ex-teammates, one former player who was not present was cornerback Darrelle Revis. According to one report, the cornerback was going to send his mother to pick up his Super Bowl ring because he had a “prior commitment.” However, a team spokesman indicated that Revis’ mother was not in attendance. (There was a report that Revis’ mother had been turned away at the entrance. That report was denied by a source.) For what it’s worth, Revis’ absence didn’t appear to put much of a damper on things — at least by the looks of the Twitter accounts of various players.
According to the team, in 2003 and 2004, when the Patriots won back-to-back Super Bowls, the championship rings were adorned with 104 and 124 diamonds respectively. This year’s rings, handcrafted by Josten’s, features 205 diamonds, and are cast in white gold. On one side, the recipient’s name sits atop the ring, along with the years of the franchise’s previous Super Bowl Championships in ’01, ’03, ’04 and 2014. Each player’s number, encrusted in diamonds, sits just above the Gillette Stadium logo. The other side of the ring features a Super Bowl XLIX logo with the final score, 28-24, on the left and the team’s overall record, 15-4, on the right.
|Vince Wilfork latest to show support for Tom Brady: ‘No matter what team I play for, Tommy boy, you always family’||05.12.15 at 8:53 pm ET|
Even though Wilfork is now a member of the Houston Texans, he took to Facebook to show his support for the player he spent 11 seasons with in New England, winning two Super Bowls.
He wrote: 11 solid years, 4 Super Bowl appearances, 2 Super Bowl victories and ALOT of WINNING! Only thing I wish I could change is winning more SBs with THE BEST QB to ever play the game. No matter what team I play for, Tommy boy, you always family.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Now you can call him Dr. Vince Wilfork||05.04.15 at 10:49 am ET|
It was a busy weekend, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t note that former Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork (it still sounds strange writing that) was honored by the New England Institute of Technology at their 75th commencement ceremony Sunday. He was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, and spoke to the graduates.
“We all have new chapters in our life that we’re going to have to attack,” said Wilfork. “I’m in Houston now, but you know what? I’m a Patriot and I’m always gonna be a Patriot, no matter how you slice it.”
Check out a picture below from Wilfork’s Twitter page for more from the event.
— Vince Wilfork (@wilfork75) May 4, 2015
|Bill Belichick sees similarities between Malcom Brown, Vince Wilfork||05.01.15 at 1:38 am ET|
FOXBORO — While many people will make the natural connection of Malcom Brown being Vince Wilfork‘s replacement, that would simply be unfair to the 21-year-old Brown, who the Patriots selected with pick No. 32 overall Thursday night.
In fact, Brown is a much more versatile player than Wilfork was, as the 6-foot-2, 320-pounder can move around on the defensive line, and showed the ability to be more than just a run-stopper.
“I’m sure there’s both [similarities and differences],” said Belichick of Brown and Wilfork. “We’ll see.”
“We have a lot of 320-pound guys around here, so we’ll see,” he added. “Every guy is their own player, so we’ll see. [We’ll] work with him and see how it goes.”
Brown was the fourth defensive lineman taken overall in the draft, and was the first defensive lineman selected since Arik Armstead at No. 17 overall.
“Just sat there and watched a lot of names come off the board,” Bill Belichick said. “But felt good about our selection of Malcom at 32. We’ll see how it goes. He’s a guy that’s played inside on the nose all the way outside to the 5-technique and kind of everywhere in between.
“He’s been moved around a little bit. He played a little more outside this year in [Texas coach Charlie] Strong’s defense, a little more inside for the previous staff. But he had plenty of snaps in a variety of spots. We look forward to working with him.”
With the Patriots not picking up Wilfork’s option, and not much depth behind him, it created a rather large need, thus the Patriots using their first round pick on a defensive player for the fourth year in a row.
Playing only three years at Texas, declaring for the draft after his junior season, Brown finished his career with 165 tackles, 8 1/2 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He was a 2014 finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (top defensive player) and Outland Trophy (top interior lineman). He also earned first-team All-America and All Big-12 honors.
|Resetting Patriots depth chart: Defensive line||04.28.15 at 1:57 pm ET|
With the majority of free agency completed and the draft looming, we’re going to take a look at the Patriots depth chart by position, and try and assess the level of need going forward. We’ve broken down each position on the offensive side of the ball. Now, it’s defense, and we start with the defensive line:
Current depth chart: (2014 regular-season stats via coaches film review and Pro Football Reference): Chandler Jones (43 tackles, 6 sacks, 10 quarterback hits, 2 passes defensed), Alan Branch (14 tackles, 2 quarterback hits, 1 pass defensed), Sealver Siliga (27 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 quarterback hits), Chris Jones (27 tackles, 3 sacks, 7 quarterback hits), Rob Ninkovich (56 tackles, 8 sacks, 16 quarterback hits, 1 INT, 2 passes defensed, 1 fumble recovery), Joe Vellano (6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 quarterback hit), Zach Moore (4 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery), Michael Buchanan (1 tackle), Dominique Easley (9 tackles, 1 sack, 3 quarterback hits). Jake Bequette remains on the practice squad, while the Patriots added DE/OLB Jabaal Sheard and defensive tackle Antonio Johnson in free agency.
Lost in free agency: Vince Wilfork (47 tackles, 1 quarterback hit, 1 INT, 2 passes defensed) signed with the Texans after the Patriots did not pick up his option. While he was able to bounce back following a season-ending Achilles injury in 2013 and go wire-to-wire in 2014, his off-field guidance as a pillar of the franchise could be a greater loss. DE/OLB Akeem Ayers (15 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 quarterback hits, 1 INT, 1 pass defensed) who was acquired midway through the year, ended up signing with the Rams.
Gained in free agency: Sheard. The 6-foot-3, 264-pounder has played in all 16 games in three of his four seasons in the league, and he recorded 44 tackles and two sacks last year. The 25-year-old has 23 career sacks. Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Johnson has posted 98 tackles and 4.5 sacks in six seasons in the league with the Titans and Colts.
Other changes: The Patriots re-signed versatile vet Branch to a new deal, and while he should be an important part of the rotation along the defensive line in 2015, the real guy to watch will be Easley, who was shelved for the season with a knee injury in December. The first-round pick in 2014 certainly showed himself to be a disruptive presence when he was able to play, but can be step in and be a big part of the New England defense in 2015? It’s unclear where he might line up along the defensive front — based on his size, skill set and what we saw from him in 2014, he’s strength is probably working as a 4-3 defensive tackle, with some time at end. But his progression and his health (specifically, his knees) will certainly be worth monitoring this spring and summer. (It’s also worth mentioning that Buchanan is coming back after a season-ending injury derailed his 2014 campaign, and figures to be a part of the conversation at the backup defensive end spot.)
Is this an area of need going into the draft? It is, at least from this perspective. While the Patriots do have a talented defensive front, there’s still the need for a sizable, run-stuffing type in the middle who can at least try and replicate what Wilfork was able to bring from an on-field perspective. (Maybe the 6-foot-3, 328-pound Johnson will get that chance?) Whether the Patriots try and go after a big body in the draft or for one of the remaining veteran free agents left on the market, it’s something New England figures to address between now and the start of camp.
|Vince Wilfork to give commencement address at New England Institute of Technology||04.06.15 at 1:52 pm ET|
Vince Wilfork is staying true to continuing to be part of the New England community.
The former Patriots defensive lineman will give the commencement address at the New England Institute of Technology on May 3, according to a press release from the school. The school, located in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, notes it’s special because of Wilfork wearing No. 75 on the field, while the school is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
Wilfork will also receive an honorary doctor of humane letters for his accomplishments and his work to improve the lives of others.
The 11-year veteran signed with the Texans this past offseason, leaving the Patriots after 11 seasons and winning two Super Bowls.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Goodbye to Vince Wilfork ‘one of toughest things’ Robert Kraft had to do as owner||03.23.15 at 9:55 pm ET|
Seeing Vince Wilfork depart was “one of the toughest things” Robert Kraft had to endure as the owner of the Patriots, he said Monday.
“It was even harder than anything else,” Kraft told reporters at the league meetings in Arizona. “He’s someone we watched come in here; I developed a very strong personal tie to him. It’s the hardest part of this game, speaking as a fan and also someone who got to know him and Bianca and his kids.”
The veteran defensive tackle, who had spent 11 seasons with the Patriots, announced on March 5 that the team was not going to pick up his option, and that he would become a free agent. And on March 16, while bidding a fond farewell to New England, he announced he was signing with the Texans.
Kraft said Wilfork’s goodbye to the Patriots was “something beautiful.”
“He’ll always be a Patriot and he’s keeping his home here. Sometimes the player is more valuable to one team than other team given how they’re constructed. Losing Vince is probably one of the hardest things that happened. (There are) some emotional ties. He’s a pretty special guy.”