INDIANAPOLIS - When he first went to a Super Bowl back in 2004, Vince Wilfork was a rookie surrounded by teammates seeking their third ring.
Now he's the elder statesman and he looked back Monday at the chemistry magic those teams had.
"Richard (Seymour), Willie McGinest and those guys were a fun bunch," Wilfork said during a media session at the JW Marriott. "When you build a football team and you talk about character and you talk about leadership, those guys always come to my mind.
"They played the game the way that it needed to be played. When it was time for business, it was time for business. When it was time for fun, it was time for fun. I think everybody rallied from that. I learned a lot from those guys. Some was good, some was bad. Ive tried to forget the bad."
Wilfork fills the same role McGinest did for this team. He's played bad cop some days, a big brother on others.Early in the season, when the defense was horrific, he was often too disgusted to stick around after games and share his feelings.
But as the Patriots slowly improved, he came to appreciate the diligence and attitude of the players he's been surrounded with.
"We have fun," said Wilfork. "You have to have fun playing this game. The guys I have in this locker room all think they're the best at whatever. I think I can throw the ball better than Tom (Brady).Tom think he can beat me in the 40. We have a lot of fun."
There's been an unmistakeable bounce in the verbal step of Bill Belichick this week. Asked about that on Monday, Wilfork said, "All year hes been like that. Its been kind of a relaxing year for all of us, just not knowing how much pressure he could put on us physically. Everything hes asked us to do, weve responded. Its been a fun season just seeing guys come to work each day.
"I think he appreciates that, and I appreciate that as a teammate," Wilfork added. "Trust me, at times Bill can be difficult to deal with. But I think he sees a difference in this team. I think he knows that he has a pretty tough football team, a smart football team and a team thats never going to let him down. We have one more game to go. Hopefully we wont let him down.