Retirement in the internet age is nothing like the stuffy press conferences of old. So it should not come as a surprise that Vince Wilfork, one of the greatest nose tackles -- and personalities -- in NFL history, went out with a bang on Monday.
The 35-year-old run stuffer, who flirted with the idea of retirement after Houston was bounced from the playoffs this past season, made it official via a sponsored Kingsford Barbecue video hyping up his next career as a champion of smoked meats.
Boiling down Wilfork's career to this would be a tremendous disservice and hopefully there is a chance to celebrate the scope of his on-field accomplishments.
A first-round pick by the New England Patriots in 2004, Wilfork won a pair of Super Bowls for Bill Belichick, made five Pro Bowl appearances and earned a first-team All-Pro nod in 2012 and three second-team All-Pro nods. He finishes his career with 16 sacks, 12 fumble recoveries, 24 pass breakups, three interceptions and five forced fumbles alongside 559 tackles.
Of course, the complicated aspect of Wilfork's legacy is the effect he had on opposing offenses -- something that cannot fit neatly into a box score.
Nose tackles are thought to be a dying breed in the NFL, but in Belichick's versatile, shape-shifting defense, Wilfork was a perfect centerpiece. From expertly swallowing up double-teams to creating five-car pileups in the backfield, there was often no answer for the 330-plus pound behemoth.
His legendary Hard Knocks appearance in Houston decked out with custom denim overalls introduced Wilfork to a new town full of adoring fans, but may have obscured the central takeaway that should be associated with his career: Wilfork was almost impossible to block for more than a decade and, in an NFL era when fans are becoming more knowledgeable about the plays that truly change a game, Wilfork should be given Hall of Fame consideration.
The competitive barbecue circuit won't know what hit it.