There’s nobody like Vince Wilfork, the Pro Bowl nose tackle who got his start at Santaluces High School in Lantana and also starred at the University of Miami.
This week he announced his retirement from the NFL with a hilarious video tweet that doubled as a commercial for Kingsford charcoal. Vince, 35, is shown hanging up his cleats and grabbing a pair of tongs from the same locker to head out into the parking lot and grill up some meat. In his overalls.
Any story you hear about the guy is probably true.
He has weighed 300 pounds and more since his sophomore season at Santaluces, at least, yet his quickness confounded blockers through 13 NFL seasons with the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans and one national title season at Miami.
Bill Belichick paid an incredible tribute to Wilfork when the retirement news broke, calling him “a special, special, special player.” Wow. Three superlatives in a row. Maybe Belichick will reel off four “specials” when Tom Brady hangs it up one day, but that’s all.
I looked back to find some of the Post’s old articles about Vince. There’s one recounting the time that Wilfork, a 350-pound Miami freshman, lined up outside to cover D.J. Williams on a pass route. They were just having fun at a bowl practice, and with the blessing of UM coaches, but instead of getting blown away on a streak up the sidelines, Vince stayed close enough to the speedy receiver to knock away Ken Dorsey’s pass.
“A lot of people are ashamed of their weight,” Vince said in that 2001 article. “I’m not. Dudes line up across from me think I’m sorry, that I’m a big load. Right off the bat, they’re thinking I’m slow. But I fool them. After that first play, they know I’m real.”
Vince left Miami after his junior season and was drafted in the first round, 21st overall, by New England. He won a couple of Super Bowls with the Patriots and in 2009 was voted onto the franchise’s 50th anniversary team. Yeah, he was for real.
Here’s one of the old Santaluces nuggets I came across, though, from a time before everyone knew his name.
At the 2000 Florida High School Athletic Association meet in Gainesville, Vince won state titles in the shot put and discus throw in 4A, the highest classification of member schools.
Santaluces finished ninth in the team competition with 23 points and Vince accounted for 20 of those. Now that’s throwing your weight around, and making everybody else duck.