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Vince Wilfork's emotion bubbles over when mentioning late parents

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots gave defensive lineman Vince Wilfork a first-class send-off into retirement on Wednesday, hosting a news conference in the Optum Field Club Lounge. Here are some of the highlights:

Wilfork’s emotion bubbles over: At the end of his remarks, Wilfork highlighted the one regret he had in his 13-year NFL career. “My parents didn’t get a chance to see their son live out a dream he told them at the age of 4 I was going to be. Physically, it hurt every day. It hurt by the hour. Daily. Not a minute [went] by, but I know they had the best seat in the house.”

Wilfork’s father, David, died of kidney failure in June 2002, when Wilfork was a sophomore at the University of Miami. David Wilfork, 48 at the time, had suffered from diabetes. Wilfork’s mother, Barbara, died in December 2002 after complications from a stroke. She was 46.

As he concluded his remarks, Wilfork -- who played for the Patriots from 2004 to 2014, winning two Super Bowl championships -- paused for an extended period of time after mentioning his parents, before saying, “I love you.”

That was a powerful moment.

Kraft speaks from the heart: Owner Robert Kraft spoke eloquently about his personal connection to Wilfork. Kraft told the story of how Wilfork and his wife, Bianca, gave Kraft a necklace that included a picture of his wife, Myra, and how he wore the necklace as Myra underwent cancer treatments. It gave him comfort.

Kraft proudly wore the necklace on Wednesday. As it dangled in front of him, he signed Wilfork to a ceremonial one-day contract.

Kraft also talked about how Wilfork would always give him a kiss before each game, one on each cheek: One was for him, the other was for Myra.

Steal at No. 21: In his 43 years in the NFL, coach Bill Belichick said one of the biggest surprises he’s ever personally been a part of was Wilfork being available with the 21st overall pick in the 2004 draft. Belichick went on to say that Wilfork was “as good a two-gapper who has ever played this game” in reference to the style of play that the Patriots asked Wilfork to execute: occupying gaps to both sides of the offensive lineman. Belichick also called Wilfork the “captain of the captains, the true leader of the team” and “the best defensive lineman I’ve ever coached -- that's player, leader, on the field, off the field, practice player.”

Wilfork’s plans: Chill out: As for his plans in retirement, Wilfork said there are no plans. “For 20 years I’ve been on a schedule, and the last thing I want to do is jump into something right now. I’m going to take some time. It might be a year or so, I’m going to take off and do things I want to do. Wake up when I want to. Fish when I want to. Golf when I want. Just live life. Let my body relax and just go.”

Never missed weight or failed a conditioning test: Wilfork leaned back in his chair and let out a big laugh when listening to Belichick talk about how he never missed his targeted weight or failed a conditioning test. What got a rise out of Wilfork was when Belichick said, "There were times he would come in for the weigh-ins and we'd say, 'Man, is he going to make it today?' ... I'm not saying he was never overweight. I'm not saying that! I'm just saying at weigh-in, he made every weigh-in."

Bill Belichick draws a laugh from Vince Wilfork as he acknowledges that Wilfork always made weight and never failed a conditioning test. Wilfork smiles as Belichick delivers his remarks with humor.

Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer ago

Several coaches and players in attendance: Similar to Rob Ninkovich’s retirement on July 29, a number of players, coaches and scouts were in attendance, including receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.