FOXBOROUGH — Following Bill Belichick’s lead, Vince Wilfork echoed his coach’s sentiments when the Patriots nose tackle said he is prepared to move forward after the arrest of former teammate Aaron Hernandez on a murder charge.
“First and foremost, it’s a sad situation for the victim’s family,’’ Wilfork said Thursday at Gillette Stadium as the Patriots reported for conditioning drills a day before the start of training camp.
“You’re not dealing with just football right now,’’ Wilfork said. “You’re dealing with human beings, you’re dealing with life. So it’s just sad. You’re disappointed, but at the same time we get a chance to come do something that we love to do and that’s to play football.”
In light of the distractions Hernandez’s arrest created, Wilfork said training camp would likely provide a sanctuary for the team.
“One thing we’ll try to do is keep everything separate,’’ Wilfork said. “We’ll try to control what we can control and that’s playing football and getting better each day. So that’s my main focus; to try and do that. It’s started and now it’s here.’’
It was difficult, however, to completely process what has happened: Hernandez has been charged with the shooting death of a 27-year-old Dorchester man, Odin Lloyd, whose body was discovered in an industrial park about a mile from Hernandez’s North Attleborough home.
“It’s real life,’’ Wilfork said. “I think sometimes we get caught up doing what we do, which is your profession or playing football or whatever it may be. Like I said, this is a real-life situation. You’re dealing with something where someone lost a loved one, someone lost a friend, a son.
“And it’s tough,’’ Wilfork added. “It’s very disappointing and it’s sad to see anyone lose any type of [family] member to a death. It’s just a tough situation.’’
Asked if this situation had a galvanizing effect on the team, Wilfork replied, “You have to put everything in perspective. You have to enjoy every moment that you have in life. Football is an outlet for us. When we come here we expect to play football and get away from everything.
“It’s started, training camp is here,’’ Wilfork added. “But to come to training camp on a note like this, it’s tough. But at the same time we have to continue to do our job. We’re not going to disrespect anything that’s going on with the families, but we do have to play football and our job is to play football and we’ll do that the best way we can and we’ll try to keep the ball rolling.
“We’re going to do everything in our power to ignore the noise and stay focused on the task at hand.’’Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.