Q:How happy are you to be back?
ML:Hey look, I'm excited. I'm excited for all these guys that are out here, for all the work that both sides did to get this deal done. This is a heck of a time. I mean we've been sitting around waiting for this moment and for me personally, my family and everybody else, we're really excited to be back here in New England.
Q:Was there any doubt you would not be back here?
ML:There's always doubt unfortunately because it's a business. I think throughout the whole process we were hopeful that this would be the outcome. Like I said, we're happy to be here.
Q:What was your reaction when the Patriots drafted a left tackle in the first round?
ML:You know, competition is the name of the game. There's always going to be guys pushing everybody at every level when you have a coach like Bill [Belichick] and the rest of the staff. I think it's a good thing, it drives all of us -- that's why we're out here, we're out here to compete, compete against each other, compete against the opponent. Drafting a guy to come and fill in for these old bones -- it was inevitable, so hopefully we'll have some fun teaching him a thing or two out here.
Q:There was a quote from Ryan Clark today, the Steelers player rep, who questioned whether they could sign a deal by Thursday. Can you comment on that?
ML:Right now, we haven't had a conference call. I think we do have one later on this evening, so I'll have a lot more information. I know that they're going back and forth right now on some of these issues that are outstanding. Whether it's player conduct issues and things of that nature, to the testing, there's things that need to be ironed out and I'm sure they will. Look, it was a long process. And I think both sides understood you need to compromise, you had to at least get to the table to get things resolved and they're doing that now, like they did for the past couple of weeks.
ML:No, we didn't have any conversations. Once the lockout started it was pretty much mute from that point on. But once it picked up, it got a little interesting real quick.
Q:Did you look at other teams?
ML:There was a lot going on at that time, but at the end of the day we're back here where we belong.
Q:How did you manage your own personal situation when you had so much responsibility with the lockout?
ML:You know what? I kind of take things as they come. There's a rhyme and a reason for everything and being here was all part of it.
Q:You missed about five days of training camp, is that all you could get away with at your age?
ML:You know what, I'll tell you, there hasn't been a time in my life that I've been more ready to play the game of football. I think being away from it, not being around the guys, not being able to enjoy an offseason program like we do around here, for a lot of guys, in our locker room at least, it was painful. To be able to come back here and be a part of this organization, we're all fired up for this one.
ML:At the end of the day, it's more this organization. I shared with the Kraft family what it meant for me to be a part of this over the last decade. The caliber of player that they bring in, the work ethic, the expectations and everything all wrapped into one --there's a reason why we've been successful and there's a reason why guys want to play here. Again, like I said, I'm just happy to be part of it for another year or two.
Q:Do you worry at any point that your role as a player rep might change things with your status with this organization?
ML:No, my role from day one as a player rep has always been to help inform my guys as to what's happening, what they can expect from their union, what their benefits are -- all of those little things that a young guy and even some cases, older guys don't fully understand. And that's the extent of it. I don't get involved with all the politics and all the behind the scenes stuff. My role, and what I think they expect from me, is to be able to look at things and speak on their behalf on certain issues and then go to them when they need help. That's it. It doesn't cross any more lines than that.
Q:How anxious are you to get on the field?
ML:I'm fired up for four o'clock tomorrow. We're excited.
Q:Even though you're a veteran player, is it still going to be a crash course with the shortened schedule?
ML:Things are different right now. I think for the younger guys it's going to be a little bit more of a challenge. It's going to be uphill for those guys for awhile. Obviously we have shortened practices as compared to years past. So these mental reps, these things that we do in the film room and things of that nature are going to be critical. I think for the older guys, it's going to be a matter of maintaining yourself knowing what you have to do to get yourself ready. And hopefully being able to go out there and do that. Look, most of these guys, we worked out [in] facilities around here together. Guys stayed in great shape and they've come out here and they've been playing pretty well from what I've seen.
ML:You know, I'm never surprised at what they do. They bring in quality guys. Trust me, having played against Albert Haynesworth and knowing what he can do on the field, that's going to be a big boost for our defensive line. Seeing what Chad [Ochocinco] can do on the field, that's obvious as well. So I think everybody's really excited about both of those guys, as well some of these rookies and the other free agents that have come in.
Q:Talk about Ty Warren leaving and your years with him.
ML:It's always tough. Look, Ty [Warren]'s a real guy. I mean, he's real in every sense. He's got a big heart, he did a lot for the community around here and he's definitely going to be a guy that we're going to miss playing with. Hopefully he'll go out there and land on a team where he can go out there and do what he does best. Obviously he's a great player.
Q:Can you expound on Robert Kraft's role in bringing about peace in the CBA negotiations?
ML:I think from day one, even if it went back to last season, it was always ‘Get the lawyers out of the room, let's get together, let's sit down [and] let's have a real conversation'. I guess that's a hard thing to do, but he was the only one who was really able to make that happen. I think what you saw with [Jeff] Saturday and some of the other guys on the Executive Committee -- their reaction towards his involvement speaks volumes. I know that when we went to the meetings, they let me know how important it was to have him in that room and what kind of leadership and just real experience he brought to the whole conversation, which really was a thing that was really lacking for a long time. We're all grateful that that happened.
Q:Are you interested in still being a player representative after all this?
ML:A decade from now, I don't think I'll be out here talking to you guys. Look, it's a long-term deal and I think that gives certainty to both sides and it's what we needed. We're looking forward to hopefully a long period of peace.
Q:Are you nervous about getting out on the field? Do you have butterflies? Are you excited?
ML:Am I nervous? Yeah, I threw up yesterday. No, God, no. No, no, I'll tell you what, it's an exciting time. When you first put the pads on, whether you've been doing it for two months or twenty years you definitely go through a little bit of a transition there. But you know what, it'll happen and it will be like old days. You know, once you hit somebody in the month once, it's like you've done it a hundred times.
Q:Are you buckling it up, though, competing for a job? Is it different than the past couple of years?
ML: I'm pretty certain there's always been a guy right there chomping on my heels. But again like I said, the competition is what drives everybody. It's going to be a lot of competition up front on the offensive line and like always the guys that go out there and perform the best are the ones that are on the field so you have to make it happen.