FOXBORO -- Vince Wilfork knows his team isn't being given much of a chance to win Saturday's matchup with the Patriots. When asked about being double-digit underdogs during a conference call with New England reporters Tuesday, he didn't quite play the Rodney Harrison "disrespect" card. But he made his feelings known all the same.
"I think last night we [saw] a game in Alabama-Clemson, these so called experts had Clemson as the underdog," he explained. "In '07 the experts had the New York Giants as underdogs, and both those teams went out to win the Super Bowl and national championship. It goes to show you what these experts know.
"We don't pay attention to outside what people have to say about us or how good or how bad we are. I think this team is a close-knit group. We play well together, and we keep everything as a family. We approach everything the same, win or lose. We win as a team, we lose as a team. I don't think anything outside . . . [will impact] how we'll go up there and how we feel because of what somebody else said. We're going to go out and play our tails off."
If they don't they'll be going home, leaving their 2016 season in the rear-view. For Wilfork, who has hinted at the possibility of retirement this offseason, it could mean he plays the last game of his 13-year career in the stadium that he called home for 11 seasons.
"At this point in my career, that's something that I'll think heavy about once the season ends, and see what I really want to do," he said. "It's hard to walk away from something that you love and have been playing for so long. But we can't play the game forever. That's a decision I'll make at the end of the season and give it some time and some thought and I'll weigh different things and go from there.
"But whenever I make that decision, I'm full-fledged making the decision. I won't be one of those ones to say no I'm not retired and coming back and play that game. When I hang my cleats up, I'm gonna hanging them up for good."
We haven't heard from cornerback Malcolm Butler as his future as a Patriot hangs in the balance after his visit with the New Orleans Saints last week.
Butler, a restricted free agent who has yet to sign the $3.91 million tender offered by the Patriots, posted a photo Wednesday on Instagram with the cryptic message "Nothing changed but the change," which happens to be a lyric from a song titled "Could It Be" by rapper Nick Lyon. So, perhaps a change of teams is being referred to.
More to come...
The NFL is acknowledging it has a time-management issue. Games are too long. Commercial are too frequent. And according to an email addressed to NFL fans, Roger Goodell is hoping to change that.
On Wednesday afternoon the commissioner explained the methods by which the league is hoping to improve the fan experience, most of which concern the presentation of games with as few interruptions as possible.
"On the football side, there are a number of changes we are making to the mechanics and rules of the game to maintain excitement and also improve the consistency of our officiating," Goodell wrote. "For example, next week clubs will vote on a change to centralize replay reviews. Instead of a fixed sideline monitor, we will bring a tablet to the Referee who can review the play in consultation with our officiating headquarters in New York, which has the final decision. This should improve consistency and accuracy of decisions and help speed up the process.
"Regarding game timing, we're going to institute a play clock following the extra point when television does not take a break, and we're considering instituting a play clock after a touchdown. We're also going to standardize the starting of the clock after a runner goes out-of-bounds, and standardize halftime lengths in all games, so we return to the action as quickly as possible. Those are just a few of the elements we are working on to improve the pace of our game."
Goodell also mentioned that the NFL is working with its broadcast partners to reduce the frequency of commercial breaks during games.
"For example," Goodell wrote, "we know how annoying it is when we come back from a commercial break, kick off, and then cut to a commercial again. I hate that too. Our goal is to eliminate it."
Goodell, team owners and executives will convene in Phoenix next week for the league's annual meetings where discussions about these potential changes could see meaningful progress.