FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In an emotional retirement news conference Wednesday at Gillette Stadium, longtime New England Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork choked up at the end while describing the only regret of 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," Wilfork said in a ceremony with many players and coaches in attendance, including owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft. "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 Bowls -- paused for an extended period after mentioning his parents, before saying, "I love you."
The retirement ceremony began with remarks from Robert Kraft, who wore a necklace he said Wilfork and his wife, Bianca, gave him. The necklace included a picture of Kraft with his late wife, Myra, with Kraft explaining it gave him comfort to wear it when Myra was undergoing cancer treatments.
Kraft kept the necklace on Wednesday as he signed Wilfork to a ceremonial one-day contract, signifying his retirement as a Patriot after spending the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the Houston Texans.
After a highlight montage of Wilfork's career, coach Bill Belichick said Wilfork is one of the best two-gapping defensive linemen to ever play in the NFL. He added that in his 43 years in the NFL, one of his biggest surprises was that Wilfork was available with the No. 21 overall pick, which is when the Patriots selected him in the 2004 draft.
Wilfork, 35, had 559 tackles, 16 sacks, four forced fumbles and three interceptions in 189 regular-season games.