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Man, Vince Wilfork is pisssssssssssssssed. The big man called into WEEI’s Dale and Holley show Wednesday morning to share with the radio listening public his thoughts on his current contract status with the Patriots, and let’s just say he wasn’t exactly teeming with kind words for the Pats management (You can listen to the interview here).
Wilfork, who is looking for a long-term deal, said that he won’t “sell himself short” and that if the Patriots were to franchise tag him, it would be “a slap in the face.”
Well, Vince should be prepared to get slapped in the face, because if history is any indicator, Wilfork’s chances of landing a long-term deal with the Pats are just slightly higher than yours or mine. In the past, the team has had no problem parting ways with their star players and guys who had key roles in bringing three Lombardi trophies to Foxborough (see: Deion Branch, Adam Vinatieri, Mike Vrabel, Asante Samuel, Richard Seymour).
With a labor dispute and impending player lockout not too far off on the horizon, the Pats have all the incentive to just keep him around for another year by bestowing the 325-pound nose-tackle with the dreaded franchise tag, which, in NFL terms, is the equivalent of your girlfriend giving you crabs–it’s not the end of the world, but chances are you’re going to be pretty upset and break off the relationship once the whole thing passes.
But Wilfork has to play this smart. If he openly complains about it (which he has all the right to do) he can end up in Belichick’s doghouse (like Adalius Thomas was last year), or even worse, get shipped off to an NFL gulag like Oakland (which his former teammate, Seymour, can tell him all about). It’s not like he can half-ass it on the field either, as doing so could seriously cost him dollars when he looks for a lucrative deal after next season.
So Wilfork has to be coy about his anger. But for an oversized man who makes a living pushing around other oversized men, I assume subtlety isn’t his strong suit. No problem, that’s what I’m here for. See, I’m fairly non-confrontational (part of the reason why I write about sports instead of playing them). Therefore, I’m an expert at passive-aggression and have a few pointers for Vince to help him take out his anger.
The saying, “there’s no such thing as bad press” doesn’t apply in the NFL. They loathe it. That’s why they suspended Pacman Jones. It’s why they helped cover up the fact Marvin Harrison helped kill a dude. It’s why Michael Vick went to jail. The NFL and their teams can’t stand negative publicity. So my advice to Vince is to use this against them. You need to do something stupid that reflects poorly on your team, but not too stupid that it will get you suspended or make it obvious you were trying to create bad press.
A popular way of doing this lately is to either send naked pictures of yourself over the Internet or commit some kind of transgression with a firearm. I suggest the latter option for the sole sake of me not having to bleach out my eyes. But he shouldn’t go over the top with the guns like Gilbert Arenas or Plaxico Burress. Instead, I suggest shooting a deer out of season. It’s a pretty despicable act, but not one that will earn him jail time or even a suspension. Still, the outrage from animal rights groups and even responsible hunters like myself will cause Bob Kraft to shake his head and scramble to assemble his PR team.
Everyone knows Coach Belichick has no tolerance for players showing up late to practices and team meetings. So Vince needs to do just that. But the key is that he needs to miss these events while performing some charitable act. Maybe build some Habitat for Humanity houses or help the people in Haiti. That way the Patriots management either has to let it slide or punish him and risk looking like heartless bastards for thinking that breaking down the 3-4 defense is more important than helping people recover from a natural disaster. The only downside to this is that it requires a selfless act, which I’ve never been one to advocate, but hey, sometimes you got to get your hands dirty.
Vince has a good start to this, but there’s always room for more. Deep fried Twinkies and minimal physical activity go a long way. Then during the season, he can run to the sideline gasping for air and take a few plays off. Vince does this already, so I don’t think it will be viewed as a malicious act if he continues to do so. As always, when being passive-aggressive, Vince should divert the blame away from himself. If anyone questions his work ethic, he should simply blame the weight gain on a mysterious gland problem or family-related stress.
While cameras and tape recorders are rolling, Vince should openly fabricate and then deny a damning rumor. He can say something like, “I don’t know where y’all heard it, but Bob Kraft does not hate black people.” This will accomplish two things: 1) People will think Vince is defending his boss, thus placing him above suspicion of sabotage and 2) People will think that Bob Kraft is a racist. To drive this point home, Vince should try to get some footage of Kraft laughing a little too hard while watching a racially charged bit from the Chappelle Show or a Chris Rock comedy special, then anonymously send it to the media.
In the likely event that Vince Wilfork gets the shaft from the Patriots, he has these suggestions to help him get even. They may not completely make up for the millions he may lose, or the fact that the team he faithfully served for the past six years royally screwed him, but it will help make it a little more tolerable. Because as any non-confrontational, pessimistic, passive aggressive person can tell you—it’s never about being happy; it’s about everyone being equally miserable.