INDIANAPOLIS — Vince Wilfork was a self-admitted “hot head” during his early days in the NFL.
One of the biggest Patriots at 6-foot-2 and 325 pounds, the defensive tackle said he cost himself by wearing his emotions on his sleeve. But he credits one person in the organization for believing more in his work off the field than what he accomplished on it.
That one person was Myra Kraft, the late wife of Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
“I think our relationship was more than football,” Wilfork recalled Thursday. “It was more personal. It was more family. Every time I saw her, we were always talking about doing something outside of football, whether it was something for the community, for the kid’s hospital, shelter homes or whatever it may be. I think we both enjoyed each other because our mind frames were so different when we talked.”
“She wanted to know how you were as a person, what type of heart you had,” Wilfork added. “She had the biggest heart of us all. That was the relationship we had.”
Before games, Wilfork would give both of the Krafts a kiss. Since Mrs. Kraft’s passing last year, Wilfork has given Mr. Kraft two kisses, “one for himself and one for Myra.”
“I told him I’d never stop doing that because of what she meant in my life and the person she made me,” Wilfork said. “She was probably one of the main people that turned me into a professional and let me know that it wasn’t all about what you do on the field. People are going to remember you for your heart, and that’s one thing I try to do. I try to show people who I am outside of football because I think people will understand me more if you do things like that.”
— Matt Florjancic, Special to NFL.com