For all intents and purposes, the NFL season recently kicked off with the Hall of Fame weekend which included Thursday night’s Hall of Fame Game and a ceremony for its seven newest inductees on Saturday.

If you’ve ever questioned the popularity of football, here’s a fun fact: the August 3 preseason matchup between the Cardinals and the Cowboys (which Dallas won 20-10) had higher ratings than both the NBA All-Star Game and Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final this year.

Then this from ProFootballTalk:

“The audience of 8.2 million for a game that featured no star players surpassed the 7.8 million who watched the NBA All-Star game earlier this year.”

The most popular team of all? The New England Patriots.

To be clear, they are also the most hated. When you win as much as they do and are perennial favorites to make it to the Super Bowl every year, you have a tendency to be polarizing among NFL fans.

One Patriots player was overwhelmingly loved by PatsNation and the rest of the league: Vince Wilfork.

Over his 13-year career, the defensive tackle was known for his imposing physique and his good-natured personality.

Head over to Page 2 to see how the two-time Super Bowl winner announced he was hanging up his cleats…

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