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Antoine Winfield Jr.: A Dream Manifested | Brianna's Blitz 

During Monday’s celebratory press conference, Antoine Winfield Jr. discusses visualization and the manifestation of goals


At the outset of the 2023 season, Buccaneers' safety Antoine Winfield Jr. vocalized two goals: Become an All-Pro and the highest paid safety in NFL history. He manifested both. From doing ladder drills with his father at the age of five to creating high-stakes situations in his head to foster comfortability in the moment, Winfield has solidified his status as one of the most feared safeties in the league. His tone-setting play in 2023 garnered an unprecedented pay day.

"History, this deal right here is a dream come true," said Winfield. "I had a vision going on into this year and I manifested a lot of things, and it is something that you have to see before it actually happens, and I put the work in. I am going to put the work in, and I feel my best football has not been displayed yet. I think that is coming down in the future and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to play football down here and to continue to live my dream and lead this team."

Last Monday, Winfield and the Buccaneers agreed on a four-year contract, making him not only the highest-paid safety in NFL history, but the highest-paid defensive back. The Bucs applied the franchise tag on Winfield Jr. on March 5 to ensure that the enforcer stayed in Tampa Bay.

In 2023, Winfield earned first-team Associated Press All-Pro honors and amassed 122 tackles, 12 passes defensed, eight quarterback hits, 6.0 sacks, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and three interceptions – all of which established new career highs. He became the first player since data became available in 1999 to finish a season with 100-plus tackles and at least three interceptions, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries and sacks in a single season. He was also the lone defensive back since 2000 with 6.0-plus sacks and six-or-more forced fumbles in a season, and the lone defensive back with seven-or-more takeaways and 5.0-plus sacks.

Among defensive backs in 2023, Winfield finished first in sacks (6.0), first in forced fumbles (six), first in fumble recoveries (four), tied for third in takeaways (seven) and third in quarterback hits (eight). Winfield led the NFL in most games with a takeaway and a sack in 2023, with four-such performances. Despite producing a performance on the gridiron last season that is entrenched in NFL lore, Winfield is hungry for more. In order to achieve aspirations, Winfield trains his mind and body with ferocity. Winfield's preparation and visualization has spurred the intensity brought on every snap and the imprint on the game.

"I put myself through situations so that when it happens [on the field], it is because I was working, and I have seen it already and I have played it a thousand times in my head," described Winfield. "Even after practice, I get on the JUGS, and I am like a kid that is shooting to make the buzzer-beater shot. I am saying in my head, 'Ok, we are down' or 'we are up by three points' and 'this team has to get to this certain yard line to kick a field goal to win the game' and 'I am in the middle of the field, and I am breaking on the ball' … The more I visualize and the more I work those scenarios, it comes up and it happens."

In 2023, Winfield made several highlight-worthy plays that shifted the momentum and outcome of games. Whether lining up in the box, manning the post at centerfield or blitzing, Winfield energized the Bucs' defense with stellar play. He defended every blade of grass with effective pursuit and jarring hits. In 2024, Winfield will vie to build off last season's unprecedented stat line.

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