By The Associated Press
Former New England and Houston defensive tackle Vince Wilfork announced his retirement from the NFL in a barbecue commercial Monday, a fitting farewell for a big guy who loved to eat.
Wilfork tweeted a video showing him un-taping his ankles, hanging up his cleats and grabbing grilling tongs. The video then shows the 35-year-old defender dancing, cooking ribs and smoking a cigar while wearing his trademark overalls.
“No more cleats,” he says. “I’m moving on to smoke meats, fellas. Peace out. I’m outta here. Later.”
The video ends by noting that “Vince’s Farewell Tailgate” will take place Sept. 7 in New England. The defending Super Bowl champions open the season that Thursday night against Kansas City.
Wilfork’s next stop could be the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He certainly has enough numbers and rings to merit first-ballot consideration.
“Congrats on a #HOF career bro… Now you can sit back and barbeque all you want,” retired NFL receiver and fellow Miami Hurricanes star Reggie Wayne tweeted.
Wilfork played 13 NFL seasons, including the last two in Houston. He said earlier this summer he was contemplating retirement after the Texans declined to offer him a new contract.
The Texans recognized Wilfork’s retirement on Twitter, saying “Thanks for the memories @wilfork75. We’ll always have this.” The caption came with a photo of Wilfork wearing overalls and talking to Houston coach Bill O’Brien.
Wilfork was drafted by New England in 2004 out of Miami and anchored the Pats’ defensive line for 11 seasons. He was named to five Pro Bowls and helped the Patriots win two Super Bowls.
Wilfork’s final game came in New England, a playoff loss in January. He received a cheer from opposing fans when he was shown on the scoreboard in the final seconds and responded with a wave. He struggled to get off the field as one Patriots player after another came to wish him well. Most believed it was his finale, although Wilfork stopped short of calling it a career.
He made the playoffs in all but one of 11 seasons.
Wilfork finishes his career with 559 tackles, 26 passes defensed, 16 sacks, four forced fumbles and three interceptions.
“Congrats to an amazing career big homie!!! Link up soon!!!” former teammate and current Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib tweeted.
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