Vince Wilfork has been through so much over the last couple of years that he was compelled to share the biggest moment of his football career with family, friends and fans at the Big Daddy Draft Day Party at GameWorks during the NFL draft.
Wilfork, who lost both of his parents in a six-month span in 2002, invited media members and Hurricane fanatics to watch him get drafted by the New England Patriots in the first round [No. 21 overall] of the N.F.L. Draft. Wilfork lost his parents tragically in 2002: his mother to a stroke, and his father to diabetes. During the event, donations were collected for the Diabetes Research Institute and Wilfork matched all the money raised in a silent auction and raffle to make his own contribution. Several of Wilfork’s teammates were on hand, including Antrel Rolle, Quadtrine Hill, Baraka Atkins and Santonio Thomas, and Head Coach Larry Coker also stopped by to wish him well.
“The Patriots know a lot about winning, and I know a lot about winning, so hopefully we can win a championship this season.” -Vince Wilfork Football player
Kim Neubecker, the Southeast Region marketing director for GameWorks, said Wilfork’s choice to share the experience of being drafted with loyal fans shows a great deal about his character.
“[The Wilfork family] are absolutely wonderful people,” Neubecker said. “They have been through so much, and to watch him come out and share this with all of his family and fans [is great]. He could have gone to New York but he decided to stay.”
Wilfork was originally projected to be drafted by either the Houston Texans with the 10th pick or the Chicago Bears with the 14th pick, so when he was still unclaimed while the Patriots were on the clock, there was a bit of anxiety within his family.
Wilfork was expecting to be chosen earlier but was pleased with how everything worked out.
” I am not disappointed [about sliding to No. 21], but I am a little disappointed about Atlanta and Chicago for not picking me up,” he said. “But I am happy about where I am at right now. The Patriots know a lot about winning, and I know a lot about winning, so hopefully we can win a championship this season.”
Wilfork may have been chosen a bit lower than he would have liked, but the defensive tackle was all smiles while signing autographs minutes after being taken by the Patriots. When asked about the drastic change in climate between South Florida and New England, the Boynton Beach, Fla., native said he wouldn’t mind having to wear a few more layers of clothing.
“I have never been to Massachusetts, but I love cold weather.” I