Vince Wilfork’s celebrated career has come to an end. The 35-year-old defensive tackle announced his retirement after 13 seasons in the NFL with a video. Known for his massive frame and quirky personality, Wilfork was one of the league’s more beloved players in his time with the New England Patriots and Houston Texans.
Wilfork tweeted the video Monday afternoon that showed him untaping his ankles, hanging his cleats up in his locker, and grabbing barbecue tongs. The video then takes a lighter tone with him dancing and cooking ribs.
“No more cleats,” he says in the video. “I'm moving on to smoke meats, fellas.”
The end of the video also has a date of Sept. 7, in which there will apparently be a farewell tailgate for Wilfork. Sounds like a can’t-miss event.
It was a retirement announcement unlike we had ever seen before, but it was real:
Following the Texans’ loss to the Patriots in the Divisional round, Wilfork got a standing ovation from the Gillette Stadium crowd and embraced Patriots owner Bob Kraft. He didn’t confirm his retirement at the time, but he was heavily leaning toward it.
As of May, he still hadn’t made up his mind.
"Right now, I just want to make sure whatever decision I make sure whatever decision I make, I'm 100 percent confident in," he said on NFL Network's Good Morning Football.
Now, he’s made it official in the only way Wilfork could.
Wilfork entered the league in 2004 as a first-round pick out of the University of Miami. He quickly won a regular spot on Bill Belichick’s defense and helped anchor the line during the Patriots’ dynasty of the mid-2000s. Over 11 seasons in New England, Wilfork had 16 sacks, five forced fumbles, and 12 fumble recoveries. He made five Pro Bowl appearances and was named to the All-Pro Team in 2012.
With Wilfork slowing down in recent years, the Patriots declined to pick up his option in 2015, making him a free agent. He later signed with the Texans and served mostly as a part-time rotational player. Wilfork clearly lost a step from his prime days, but he was still valued for his run-stuffing ability and veteran leadership.
It’s hard to tell if Wilfork has done enough to earn a Hall of Fame spot, but he was one of the most important players in Patriots history and became a viral sensation with his many antics off the field. He posed for ESPN’s The Body Issue, showed up to practice in overalls, and rocked his Memorial Day cookout, among many other things uniquely Wilfork. In a league that seems to actively strip its players of personality, Wilfork stood out as one of the best.
We’ll miss you, Big Vince.