Temperatures for Saturday in Foxborough will be in the teens when the Ravens and Patriots meet in the AFC Divisional game. And while there are myriad questions heading into the matchup, here's perhaps the most important (to the Pats' equipment managers, anyway): will New England players wear sleeves?
“I do what I’ve been doing for 11 years -- go out there like I’m playing in 80 degrees,” nose tackle Vince Wilfork said, via ESPN.com. “I’m a big believer in, ‘I’m not playing the weather,’ so I’m not going to switch my routine up just because of what’s going on outside. Deal with it.”
The Patriots, in general, aren't ones to look for excuses, and the weather is no different.
“I think at that point in the game, I don’t care if it’s minus-2 or 98, you have to be able to play that football game, and the more you can just focus on your opponent and everything else just block it out, the better you’ll be, the more successful you’ll be,” Wilfork continued. “I’m not going to change much going into this game.”
And while it sounds insane to go outside in sub-freezing conditions without covering your arms, Wilfork hasn't ever done it. Not so much because it's expected of hulking football players but for a simpler reason: "With the heated benches, going on and off the field and moving around, as a player you really don’t feel that coldness. You’ll be so focused, you’ll be so pumped up, and by the time you get a chance to feel it, you’re on the sidelines, sitting on heated benches. For me, it’s never a problem, and I’m not trying to make it a problem.”
But Wilfork said that once the final whistle blows, there's no reason to hang around in the elements. “I’ll tell you what, when it gets close to the end of the game, I’m ready to get inside. I won’t lie about that."
Meanwhile, linebacker Dont'a Hightower has no qualms about wearing layers.
“I’ve learned my lesson in the past, and I’m definitely not trying to be a tough guy when it comes to [running around with no sleeves]," he said. "Whatever way I play more comfortable, which would be the sleeves, so I’m going to rock the sleeves.”