MacMullan on Vince Wilfork

In a piece now posted on ESPNBoston.com, columnist Jackie MacMullan writes on defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and how he's grown into one of the team's top players and leaders.

The mantle of leadership is an honor for some, a burden for others. With it comes mounting pressure, expanded responsibilities, heightened expectations.

And that is exactly why Vince Wilfork has been waiting his whole life to assume his role as the key component of the Patriots defense.

"Either you are a leader, or you're not,'' said Vince Wilfork, in a quiet moment before Super Bowl madness overtook him. "You can't fake it, can't hide from it. But you can grow into it.

"And that's what I have done.''

MacMullan writes on how one of Wilfork's greatest challenges over the course of his career has been how to channel his emotions.

The intensity and energy with which he plays football has turned him into a perennial Pro Bowl talent, but also threatened to handcuff him when those emotions went awry.

Former Santaluces High School coach Ray Berger has watched with pleasure as Wilfork has grown from an oversized eighth grader with a ferocious temper to an oversized All-Pro adult with a restrained demeanor he's worked tirelessly to manage.

"Vince was always the nicest kid in the world off the field,'' Berger said. "But on the field, it was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing. He was a kid who didn't know how to channel his energy. I can't tell you how many times I had to drag his butt into my office and have a man-to-man regarding those out of control moments.''

To read MacMullan's piece, CLICK HERE.