Vince Wilfork spent the first 11 years of his career in New England, including three of those years (2010-12) playing with Aaron Hernandez. And never once did Wilfork see behavior from Hernandez that would suggest he had CTE.
Then again, Wilfork also wasn’t looking for it.
“No, I played with a bunch of people and when you’re playing a game you love, that’s what you do: you play,” Wilfork said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “We don’t see no signs or anything like that. Now of course if somebody gets hit and knocked out and gets up wobbly, you can see that. But as far as everyday playing, you don’t see things like that. That’s why when they do the studies afterwards, they come up with all these things and say, ‘This is what people are suffering (from).’ But as players, we don’t see that because we’re so in tune to daily practice and playing and doing this. We don’t see things that way. We don’t.”
Either way, Hernandez, who committed suicide at 27, apparently suffered from stage 3 CTE. There are four stages.
“We were just as shocked,” Wilfork said, when learning of the report. “Anybody that heard that story, I was just as shocked as everybody else because it’s nothing that we would have known as players playing at the time. That’s one of the things where I guess later in life after death, if they test stuff, you’ll find a lot more information about people than you can while they’re living.”
As of now, CTE cannot be diagnosed until death. Wilfork hopes that will eventually change.
“It would be interesting to see in all athletes if there’s traces of this while we’re living,” he said, “and if there is, can we get treatment for it while we’re living.”
Wilfork, 35, spent his final two seasons in Houston before retiring in August. He is hosting a retirement tailgate with Kingsford before the Patriots (1-1) host the Texans (1-1) this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
“There’s two things that I love: barbecue and football,” Wilfork said. “To be able to go back and tailgate in Gillette Stadium, I cannot wait.”