FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork was driving home from Sunday night's rousing victory against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game when he noticed a Jeep Wrangler rolled onto its side on Route 1 not far from Gillette Stadium.
So he did what he said anyone else would: He pulled over and lent a helping hand, with the Massachusetts State Police arriving soon after and crediting Wilfork with helping pull the driver -- 38-year-old Mary Ellen Brooks of Hanson, Massachusetts -- out of the vehicle.
"Through football and the course of life, I've learned to try to stay poised in certain situations and I'm pretty sure she was kind of scared," Wilfork said Monday in the team's locker room. "The last thing I wanted to do was have her panic, and that was the first thing I told her, 'Don't panic. We'll get you out of here.' We got her out, the cops came and that was about it."
The accident occurred at 12:45 a.m., and trooper Kenneth Proulx reported that he held the driver's door open while Wilfork reached in and helped lift Brooks out of the vehicle with one hand. Wilfork then departed after ensuring no more assistance was needed. Brooks was then arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
"He's got a lot of character and a lot of integrity -- how generous he is with his time and personal support, and the time and interest and compassion he has for other fellow human beings," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "It doesn't surprise me because that's really the type of person he is."
In revisiting his role in helping Brooks, Wilfork was subdued on Monday.
"I think anybody would do the same thing," he said. "I saw the lady in there and asked her if she was OK, could she move. She grabbed my hand, and kind of talked her through [it]. It wasn't a big deal; it was seeing someone that needed help and helping. I was just trying to get her to safety."
Wilfork said he didn't see the car flip over and was unaware how long it had been on its side. He was with his wife, Bianca, at the time.
"You kind of reflect on life a little bit," he said. "Here I am, we won the most important game of our season, and flashing right in front of your eyes is the life of someone who is in danger. ... After I drove off, my wife and I kind of talked in the car and said there are things that are a lot more precious in life than games or anything you accomplish in life. There are things out there that are more important. It showed last night, even though we won the AFC championship, it was life and danger. We were just happy to help.
"I don't want anything from it. If I saw it a million times, I'd do it a million times no matter what the situation would be."