MINNEAPOLIS -- Since he walked away from the NFL in 2013 -- following his release from the Minnesota Vikings, a training camp stint with the Seattle Seahawks and a near-reunion with the Vikings before their game in London that September -- former cornerback Antoine Winfield has kept a relatively low profile.
He's living in Houston, where he remains close with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Winfield's son, Antoine Jr. -- who ran a 4.27-second 40-yard dash at Ohio State's camp -- will play for the Minnesota Golden Gophers this fall.
The elder Winfield, though, has mostly opted for a quiet retirement instead of a second career in the public eye. He has said little about his release from the Vikings, which came after one of his best seasons and stung the veteran in the spring of 2013, and the telegenic corner hasn't appeared in the broadcast booth of NFL or college games. So perhaps it's somewhat appropriate that when Winfield resurfaced over the weekend, it was from behind a pair of sunglasses, with headphones over his ears and an iPad at hand as he studied his cards on the first day of the World Series of Poker.
Winfield, now 39, was competing in the $10,000 Main Event at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino on Saturday, alongside former New England Patriots defensive tackle Richard Seymour. Winfield has taken up poker as a post-football hobby; the three-time Pro Bowler's NFL career dovetailed with the poker boom of the 2000s, after accountant Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event in 2003.
"I remember watching him on TV and saying, 'Hell, if he can win it, so can I!'" Winfield told Casino City over the weekend. "It's fun. I love it. I love the competition and I love meeting all the guys. I've been competitive all my life, and this is no different. You're competing against a huge field so it's hard to make it, but it's a lot of fun."
Winfield busted in the $10,000 main event, but finished 231st with $2,391 in a $1,500 no-limit hold 'em event for his first cash in a major tournament. When he was sitting at his table between hands on Saturday, he was in touch with Peterson over a game of online chess.
"Look, poker is a slow game," he said. "You have to be patient and wait for good hands. When those hands don't come -- and that seems to be happening a lot to me today -- I like to stay active and play chess."