Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork has been voted into the Patriots Hall of Fame, the team announced Tuesday.
He is the sixth player selected by the fans in the first year of eligibility, joining Drew Bledsoe (2011), Troy Brown (2012), Tedy Bruschi (2013), Ty Law (2014), and Kevin Faulk (2016).
Appearing from Louisiana on a conference call with media, Wilfork called the honor “a blessing,” and returned the love to the fans.
“The fan base that we have in Boston, you can’t compare,” said Wilfork. “You’ve got a couple of places out there that might have multiple professional sports teams that have championship quality and have done it in the past, but there’s something about being a New England guy, being a fan and playing sports there, because one thing I know is the fans love their sports there and their athletes.
“I never played in a stadium with the type of fans that we had.”
After being selected in the first round of the 2004 draft by the Patriots, Wilfork played 11 of his 13 years in New England, winning two Super Bowls.
He appeared in 158 games, including 148 starts. He helped the Patriots defense finish in the top 10 in points allowed eight times. The Patriots also played in 21 playoff games, six AFC Championship games, and four Super Bowls with Wilfork anchoring the defense. The two Super Bowl titles came a decade apart, beginning with the 24-21 win over the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX in his rookie season, followed by the 28-24 win over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX in his final year with the team. Tom Brady is the only other Patriot to play in both games.
Wilfork credited owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick for the team’s sustained success that brought six Super Bowl titles across two decades.
“Being able to do what they’ve done for two decades, I don’t think you’ll ever see that again at this level,” said Wilfork.
“For me to be a part of the first great dynasty with the old hands, the Mike Vrabels, the Richard Seymours, Tom Brady, Corey Dillon, Rodney Harrison, Ty Law, Ty Warren and then all of a sudden you have the Hightowers, the Mayos, the Devin McCourtys, the Gronks, the Edelmans, you know, it’s a blessing.”
He served as a defensive cocaptain for seven consecutive seasons (2008-14) and earned five Pro Bowl selections (2007, 2009-12). He also earned first-team Associated Press All-Pro honors in 2012 and second-team Associated Press All-Pro honors in 2007, 2010, and 2011.
“It’s my pleasure to announce Vince Wilfork as our 2022 Patriots Hall of Fame selection,” said Kraft. “For more than a decade, Vince was a dominant defender in the trenches and anchored some of the best defenses in franchise history.
“His contributions on the field propelled the Patriots to four Super Bowl appearances during his 11-year career. He was a big man with an even bigger personality and a huge heart.”
Wilfork played his final two seasons with the Houston Texans before retiring after the 2016 season.
The date and time for the 2022 induction ceremony will be announced later.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft is set to be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award Wednesday night at the Sports Business Journal Awards in New York. Former New England receiver Julian Edelman is also expected to be on hand for the SBJ Awards, which “recognize the leaders, visionaries, and day-to-day practitioners who personify excellence in the business of sports.’’
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