Vince Wilfork goes back to work

MILFORD — Patriots [team stats] players have been informed they can show up at Gillette Stadium today at 8 a.m. to begin offseason workouts.
The lockout, from that perspective, is over for now, with free agency soon to follow.

Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork [stats], who held his annual draft day fund-raiser last night at Pinz Entertainment, plans on being in Foxboro bright and early.

“We did get information (from the Patriots) saying we’re expected to start at 8 o’clock. We’re expected to be working out,” said Wilfork, who had a big turnout for his event, which raises money for diabetes research. “So they’re expecting us to be around. I’m pretty sure everybody’s gotten that call. With that call, that means you’re going back to work. So be there, and see what happens after that.”

While Wilfork plans to report, he can’t speak for the rest of his teammates. They’re scattered all over the place, which is probably a similar scenario with other NFL teams.

For instance, quarterback Tom Brady [stats] was last spotted on the West Coast. Chances are, he won’t be among the crowd in the Gillette weight room today.

“Some guys are out of town, some guys are on vacation, some are out of the state, so you never know who can get back,” Wilfork said. “I just think with the owners opening it up (today) at 8 a.m., either you’re going to be there or you’re not. They opened the doors because legally they had to. So they’re doing their part. Now it’s up to the players to do their part if they want to attend, if they can. If not, like I said, with vacations, you never know what people have on their agendas.”

Wilfork is one player who pulled his kids out of school locally and enrolled them in Florida because he was going to spend the bulk of his time there thanks to the lockout.

“I made a decision to move my family down to Florida, get them out of this weather, and be down there for the offseason because of the lockout,” Wilfork said. “I’m pretty sure a lot of people went back to their hometown. But we just have to wait and see. Owners can’t get too mad, coaches can’t get too mad if (today) comes and you have 10 people in the room. You can’t be mad about that. I think the guys who can get here, will be here. Whatever happens, they’ve covered their tail by opening up the doors. Now it’s all on the players who’s going to show, who’s not going to show. For whatever reason it is, that’s what it’s going to be.”

Players will find out more in the coming days in terms of when organized team activities officially begin, as well as minicamps, etc. Now, all of that may get thrown out the window down the road if the league goes ahead with another attempt at a stay of the ruling that nullified the lockout.
Wilfork said with the chaos that went on this week, and if the players are locked out again, he fears mostly for the fans.

“They’ve gotten the bad end of the stick throughout all of this,” he said. “Us as athletes, we want to be working out, we want to be with the team, we want to be in our facilities, getting in the hot tubs, cold tubs, eating together back again. But for the fans, they’re the ones sitting back and saying, ‘What the hell’s going on?’ They’re the ones who’s bought season tickets. Some teams have already collected on those tickets. So, the fans are getting the bad end. So I really hope we settle something not only because this is what we do for a living, but because of the fans. If the fans don’t buy tickets and support us, how do you make money? So, let’s be real right now. If the fans aren’t spending, how does a team make money? You have to look at that.

“As players, we always appreciate the fans we have. Being up here in New England, we have some of the greatest fans. They’re die-hard fans. These are the fans, when we’re playing in 10-degree weather, with snow coming down, our stands are still filled. So I definitely feel bad for the fans.”

Last night, the fans showed their support. Pinz was packed for Wilfork’s charity event, and the big guy was truly heartened.

“We had our fingers crossed,” Wilfork said, referring to his wife, Bianca, who works the event with him. “With the lockout, Thursday night, a school night, they’re not on vacation. But the outcome is great. We’re amazed. A lot of credit goes to the people who came out. I’m pretty sure a lot of people have to go to work tomorrow. But for the cause, it’s amazing.”

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