FOXBOROUGH --- Vince Wilfork said he was emotionally charged watching the final home game of his fellow University of Miami alumnus, Ray Lewis, who last week announced that this season would be his last with the Baltimore Ravens.
Lewis, who was placed on injured reserve with a torn triceps following a Week 6 triumph over the Dallas Cowboys, returned to the field for the first time since his injury and helped the Ravens to a 24-9 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC wild-card contest, recording a game-high 13 tackles.
Wilfork, who enjoyed a three-day hiatus as part of the Patriots' reward for clinching a first-round bye, watched the game on television and was pleased that it wasn't the last of Lewis's career.
"You know what, that guy means so much to the NFL,'' Wilfork said. "When I’m old and retired, this game is going to go on. People are always going to remember Ray Lewis. Always. He’s going to be remembered because the love that he has and the passion he has – I mean, the way he can get guys to rally around him, it’s unbelievable. He’s a special guy. He’s a special, special guy, especially [as a] football player
"He has every tool to be a great player. When you talk about being great and you talk about defense, the first person that comes to your mind is Ray Lewis. What he’s done over the years is ridiculous. He’s just a hell of a player, he’s a hell of a person. He’s just a great, great icon.''
Wilfork said the most stirring moment of the game for him was when Lewis made his entrance in his own inimitable style, with his trademark war dance.
"When he did that, it sent chills up your body,'' Wilfork said. "He’s been doing this for so long. It’s hard to see a guy that’s been doing it for so long and at the level that he’s been doing it – it’s unheard of. That’s class. When you talk about greatness, you’re talking about greatness right there.
"He’s one of the best that has ever done it. His name can be with some of the greatest of all-time at the position and he shows it. For 17 years, he’s shown it."