Koppen's return with Broncos is nature of the business to Wilfork

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Koppen's return with Broncos is nature of the business to Wilfork

FOXBORO -- Vince Wilfork has been around long enough to know that, at the end of the day, football is a business.

So when he lines up across from former teammate and center Dan Koppen on Sunday, it'll be strange. That's human nature. But what's also human nature, is players coming and going.

And in Koppen's case, he signed with the Denver Broncos in early September, after being released from the Patriots.

But the last thing that Wilfork wants to do is make Sunday's game against the Broncos at Gillette Stadium about that.

"Being with him for nine years, I know Koppen a little bit," said Wilfork with a smile on Thursday. "He knows me also a little bit. So, it is what it is when it comes down to that.

"I don't think either one of us is any different. We want to try to win a ball game. It's Denver versus the Patriots, not, the Patriots versus Koppen or Koppen versus the Patriots."

As Wilfork kept pointing out, it's the nature of the business.

"We've seen guys come and go, and play against guys that had been here, that had been teammates before," said Wilfork. "And it's never been a problem. We don't want it to be a problem this week.

"It's the nature of the business. People come and go."

Wilfork found that out early in his NFL career, as he saw Willie McGinest get cut and then sign with the Cleveland Browns.

"Being here nine years, I've seen a lot of people come and go," said Wilfork. "I think the first one probably was Willie McGinest, when he left. It's strange, because you come in as a rookie, McGinest was one of the guys I looked up to, being a defensive player and him being a leader here. I actually watched him in high school.

"That was the first one, but that wasn't the last one. And it's not going to be the last one. So, you've got to take it in stride. You have relationships with guys, off the field relationships, and it is what it is. I'm here to do a job. That's to do my job at the best ability that I can. And it won't stop this Sunday."

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL


Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”