Big Vince Wilfork is still bigger than the average person, but he's nothing like the 325-plus-pound behemoth he had to be during his playing days.
A noticeably trimmed-down Wilfork proudly donned his new red Patriots Hall-of-Fame jacket for the first time on Thursday afternoon with the official ceremony set for Saturday at 4 p.m. In fact, he liked it so much he was ready to leave the building with it -- before a Patriots staffer reminded him he had to drop it off with them until the weekend.
"This…this means a lot," the humbled former defensive tackle whispered as he buttoned the jacket up for the first time.
A team-first player known for dominating at nose tackle -- "the grimiest position there is," according to him -- Wilfork made sure to spread the love to his family, teammates and coaches for this latest honor, especially Bill Belichick.
But when ESPN's Mike Reiss quipped that Belichick might mistake him for a linebacker these days, Wilfork couldn't help but chuckle a bit recounting the first time Belichick saw how much weight he'd lost.
"I saw the team last year in Miami, went to the hotel and saw them…I was like, 'I want to go see Coach.' [He's] on the treadmill looking out. I come in and he's like, 'What the f--k? What?!'" Wilfork recounted to a laughing crowd. "I'm trying to talk to him and the only thing he say was, 'Oh my gosh, you look good. You look like you could still play!' … He couldn't stop saying how good I looked and everything."
Wilfork went on to explain that his slimming down was simply a product of retirement and that he was trying to stay as happy and healthy as possible -- for himself and for his family.
"I had to be that size when I played. Now that I'm done and stress-free, you have to find different things in life to keep me around. My kids need me. My family needs me. I got good things to make sure I'm healthy and they can see 'Pops' and I can go to the football, basketball, baseball games…this is the best I ever felt."
As for whether or not Belichick was right about Wilfork being able to play again, the former defensive lineman has no desire to find out: "I'm here to tell you that I can't play. I'm officially retired from football. So don't ask me to get in my stance…don't ask me, 'Do I have one play in me?' No. I'm just here for looks now."
So far, retirement looks great on Wilfork, and so does that Hall-of-Fame jacket.