New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork answered some questions about the upcoming Super Bowl XLVI game against the New York Giants during Wednesday's media access. Courtesy of Patriots.com.
(on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' comments about the Pro Bowl not being competitive)
"That's a privilege to play in a game like that. Everybody's going to have their opinions about playing in that game, but guys play a whole season, and it's a tough, physical, brutal season, but you get rewarded. So, the last thing you want to do is go out in a game and hurt yourself. That's not good for the individual or the organization. I really haven't paid too much attention to it."
(on the Patriots having a number of unheralded players playing key roles)
"I think some people use it as a motivational tool, not being drafted or slipping in the draft because there was something negative that was put out, but I think you can always find a diamond in the rough no matter where you go. I think some guys get overlooked because the bigger the school is-the higher name or the stars on that team. But if you look deeper, you find guys like that. Our organization does do that. They look past the big names and the stars, and they look for that diamond in the rough, and we've been pretty successful by doing that."
(on if having unheralded players makes for a better team)
I think this team, we fight towards one goal, no matter where you were drafted, no matter how you got here in the league. Everybody has the same mindset of wanting to win ball games, wanting to be a team player, and I think that's one thing that we have, a lot of guys that aren't selfish. They care less about themselves, and it's more about the team, and it shows. We don't have one guy that's playing good football. We have a bunch of guys that kind of step up and play some good football for you."
(on what linebacker
"When Jerod came in, it wasn't about, 'Can he play?' or, 'Can he lead?' The first day he came in, you could see right then and there that this guy was a leader. He had what it takes to run our defense. He had what it takes to be a younger leader for us. We had guys around for a long time that were there-like (former linebacker) Tedy Bruschi and more guys-but he got a chance to come in and learn the ropes from those guys. You see right away his mindset, his hard work, the passion he has for the game, and I always say he didn't look like a rookie. When he came in, he didn't act like a rookie, didn't play like a rookie; it's like he was always at this level, so that was better for us. It was definitely better for us, but I've seen Jerod grow from a player to a friend to a father, so he's been growing. But like I said, it seems like when he first got here, he had all of those things already in order, like someone taught him the right way."
(on his rookie season and how early trials shaped his career)
"My rookie year, I had a bunch of guys around me, leaders and veteran guys. It was more of a veteran team, so new blood coming in-it wasn't the easiest thing to come in on a team that had just won a Super Bowl against Carolina. Then all of a sudden, you're drafted there, and the expectations are high. Just being able to see these guys work, what it takes to be a professional, just seeing the difference between college and pros-how they approach the game, and how they approach the week, time management, things like that-I got a chance to learn a lot early. But, I was always like that, my whole life. I always was a leader on the football (team) or a leader on the basketball (team) because of the passion I had for sports. It doesn't change now. I still have love for the game. I still have a passion for the game. I think a good leader leads by example. I don't think you need leaders all the time that talk. I think if you work hard and put everything you have into it, your younger guys will flock to you."
(on the most athletic thing he does that surprises people)
"Probably dunk a basketball. People look at me and are like, 'He's a butterball, he can't.'"
(on if his excitement for the Super Bowl in increasing)
"As an individual, for me, it's slowing down for me with the media coming to town, getting ready to play, getting ready to practice-doing this, doing that- now all of that stuff is going to slow down a lot, and you get a chance to really focus in on your target, and that's playing football. For me, that's where I'm at. It's a long week until gameday, and guys get anxious, but at the same time, we have to be able to take it one day at a time because you don't want to get too amped. You don't want to get too over the top, because we're still a ways out. But for me, it's slowing down now. It's starting to slow down, and everything's starting to get back to a normal week for us.
(on keeping a routine and if it helps maintain focus)
"I think the more you can stay on a routine, the better it is. If you go outside and do something that you're not used to doing, throw something in the schedule that you're not used to doing, I think it will screw people up. This is a little different. We always have media, but we never have it before meetings, so this is not a big deal for us. I think going on to meetings, once we get into that meeting, we know exactly how it runs. We know the times. You're not running around saying, 'What do I have to do? Man I missed this.' It's not like that."
(on his main concern about the Giants offense)
"The running game. I think that's probably one of the biggest threats. When you have three backs who can run the ball, you get 10 carries apiece from those guys. That's 30 carries. That's 30 carries, and (Brandon) Jacobs and (D.J.) Ware and (Ahmad) Bradshaw, those are some tough runners. I've faced all of them, and every last one them is a tough runner. I think defensively for us to be successful, we're going to have to slow it down. If they come out and run the ball and we can't stop them, we're going to have a problem."
(on Bill Belichick's biggest strength as a coach)
"I think Bill focuses a lot on the little things. He'll sit in his office for hours and hours and hours and come out with one thing, and you'll look at him like, 'Are you serious? This is what we're doing?' But he always comes back to it. I don't know what he does; it always comes down to that little thing that he gives us. I learned that as a rookie, just listen because this guy's been around for a long, long time. Just listen and trust what he does. I've been doing it for eight years, so he hasn't failed me yet. So, I'm going to continue to listen, and whatever he brings to the table, I'm sure he put a lot of thought into it, and I think it's going to carry us a long way if we keep trusting in him because he keeps delivering."
(on the drastic changes to the roster since they played in Super Bowl XLII)
"I don't really think about that. I think the biggest satisfaction I got this year was winning the AFC Championship. From the organization to the fans, to my teammates, coaches, we put a lot into it. We put a lot into it, and these guys deserve it. They worked their tails off all year. It wasn't perfect, but nothing's perfect."
(on having success with so much roster turnover)
"It just goes to show you, the coaches that we have, the guys that we bring in, understand their roles. We've probably got the best coaches out there. We believe that. We definitely believe that. We believe in what Bill(Belichick) teaches us. We believe in the coaching staff and what they teach us. That's everything. When you can have a team that believes in what we're doing and in what the coach is trying to get through to you... Sometimes it may be a no brainer, but if the team believes-because that's one thing special about this team. They believe. They have a passion for it, the love it, and they believe."
(on what he tells newcomers to the Patriots)
"The first thing I tell them is you can't think about yourself. In this organization, it's all about the team, so if you can understand that, you're okay. Guys that didn't understand that, they had a problem, and they're probably not here. But for the most part, these guys understand that and they come to work every day ready to work, ready to get better. That's all we're asking for."