New England Patriots: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
15 of 30
Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots
(Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /

47. . NT. (2004-14). Vince Wilfork. 16. player

  • 2x Super Bowl Champion (XXXIX, XLIX)
  • 5x Pro Bowl (2007, 2009-12)
  • First-Team All-Pro (2012)
  • 3x Second-Team All-Pro (2007, 2010-11)

There may never be another player like Vince Wilfork. His larger than life personality and his ridiculous athleticism for a big guy made Wilfork simply unforgettable. Before taking ribs and giant oversized blue overalls to the optimal level, Wilfork was busy making AFC quarterbacks miserable as an elite nose tackle for the Patriots.

Wilfork first came to the Patriots as the No. 21 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami. He was used to winning down at The U, so Wilfork fit in perfectly in Bill Belichick’s system with the Patriots. Right away, Wilfork would taste success in the NFL, as the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXIX over the Philadelphia Eagles in Jacksonville in 2004.

Wilfork may have been a rotational defensive lineman as a rookie in that championship season, but it wouldn’t take long before he was one of the best defensive linemen in all of football. His breakout season would come in 2007 when Wilfork made his first career trip to the Pro Bowl. He earned Second-Team All-Pro honors as well, as the Patriots made it back to the Super Bowl in the quest of going undefeated.

Though the Patriots didn’t get it done versus the New York Giants in February, Wilfork was there to stay as the formidable nose tackle on the New England defense. He rattled off four-straight Pro Bowls from 2009 to 2012. New England got back to the Super Bowl in 2011, but again fell to the same Giants squad.

Wilfork would hit his prime around that time. He made an All-Pro team each year from 2010 to 2011, capping it off with his only first team designation in 2012. However, a torn Achilles against the Atlanta Falcons in October 2013 saw the beginning of the end of Wilfork’s useful life in New England.

Yes, he would bounce back to play in all 16 games for the 2014 Patriots, helping New England capture Super Bowl XLIX over the Seattle Seahawks. However, that would be the last game Wilfork would play for the team that drafted him in the Patriots.

New England declined to exercise the option on his contract, so Wilfork then became a free agent. He would end up signing with former Patriots coach Bill O’Brien’s team in the Houston Texans. Wilfork played two more high-end years in Houston before retiring after the 2016 NFL season. Though his time in Houston yield no Pro Bowls for him or any trips to the Super Bowl, he gave us the greatest clip ever spawned from HBO’s Hard Knocks. He achieved legendary status with his arrival to Texans camp. Blue overalls have never looked better.

It remains to be seen if Wilfork’s body of work is good enough for him to earn Canton enshrinement. Let’s hope he gets a bust in Canton because that speech of his will be something extraordinary. It would be a shame if he didn’t wear his patented blue overall cutoffs on that glorious summer day in Canton, Ohio.

Wilfork was bigger than you, funnier than you, could kick a football farther than you and could sling the pigskin better than you. Nobody embraced the culinary art of ribs quite like Wilfork, only adding to his legacy as a champion. Basically, he was just better than you and you accepted it willingly because he’s Vince Wilfork and you’re not.