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 Iím old and retired, this game is going to go on. People are always going to remember Ray Lewis. Always. Heís going to be remembered because the love that he has and the passion he has Ė I mean, the way he can get guys to rally around him, itís unbelievable. Heís a special guy. Heís 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 heís done over the years is ridiculous. Heís just a hell of a player, heís a hell of a person. Heís 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. "Heís been doing this for so long. Itís hard to see a guy thatís been doing it for so long and at the level that heís been doing it Ė itís unheard of. Thatís class. When you talk about greatness, youíre talking about greatness right there.
"Heís 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, heís shown it."