LAKE BUENA VISTA — Cameron Wake is a relatively private person.
Time after time this season, when speaking about his comeback from an Achilles injury at the age of 34, Wake has generally referred to people in his inner circle whose opinion matters most, who motivated him to push past what he perceived as outside doubters.
At the Pro Bowl on Friday, Wake spoke specifically about the person who has mattered more than anyone in his dramatic recovery — his fiancee.
“I am the luckiest man in the world,” Wake said after Friday’s AFC practice. “This woman runs the show. She basically is my fire. She is my rock. And my better half. So again, not in the limelight. Not on the front page. But I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for her.”
Wake prefers to keep her name out of the media.
After playing only seven games last year prior to the injury, Wake rebounded with 11.5 sacks and 29 tackles in 16 games played.
What makes this Pro Bowl appearance, Wake’s fifth, more special and unique than any other, is how unlikely some felt it was.
“Obviously, the previous few situations that I had to deal with to make it back into the season,” Wake said. “To make it back on the field. The hard work that I had to put in. Not only for myself. But for my family. The significant other people who had to sacrifice in order to allow me to put the time in and put the work in. They had to sacrifice themselves in order to help me get here. This is one of those things I can share with them, the people who are in your circle, the people who helped me get to who you are.”
It was obvious that some of the younger Pro Bowlers are marveling at what Wake has accomplished at 34. And following such a serious injury.
“Guys who are in this world (professional football) know what it takes,” Wake said. “They know injuries. They know offseason. They know better than anybody what it takes to get on the field and be successful. So obviously being injured. I’m sure other guys out here have had Achilles injuries and they know how difficult it is to come back. And being a veteran in this league and still being able to do it, that’s something that I think anybody can appreciate.”
Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams, 22, is Wake’s AFC lockermate.
“I voted for him for the comeback player of the year because he had over 10 sacks this year,” Williams said Friday. “And he’s still doing it at an older age. He’s a vet. So I’ve been asking him a lot of questions because he takes care of his body. He knows how to be a veteran. It’s a rough sport. It’s hard on your body. If you want to play long you’ve got to definitely take care of it.”
Wake turns 35 on Monday. He said he doesn’t celebrate birthdays like he used to. What he does celebrate now is offseasons.
“I celebrate the time with my family,” Wake said. “Because literally from March to the Super Bowl you’re focused on football, focused on doing your job and sacrificing. And really your time and your priorities are on your craft.”
Wake said what he enjoys more than anything about the Pro Bowl is a chance to share thoughts and ideas with the best in the game.
“It’s really an opportunity to get together with people you wouldn’t have been able to sit down and have breakfast with, talk ball, talk life,” Wake said. “You think about this opportunity. There is no amount of money, no amount of influence, there is nothing that you can create or buy to get a breakfast table full of football minds, from the legends, to the players, to the coaches, that I’ve been able to experience. Every year I take that and I really hold on it.”
Is is possible Wake could make another Pro Bowl? Is it possible Wake could play in a Super Bowl before his career is over? As Wake turns 35, how much more is possible?
“Everything is possible, I think,” Wake said. “I laugh when people put limitations on myself or the team or just limitations in general. Because again and again people say things. And they have opinions. And they end up not really panning out for them. You have to concentrate on your own beliefs and your own confidence. And do what you feel is best. And do what’s been successful for you.
“I’ve never been a person to listen to anybody on the outside. And the people who are involved, whether it’s the teammates or family, the people that are helping you get to where you belong, those are the people whose opinions you consider. You work to please those people. But the world is ours if we choose to take it. We have to put in the work, put in the time, and make sure it happens. We (the Dolphins) started in the right direction this year. And hopefully we can get more of the same next year.”
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