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Ben Watson on-field interview transcript 4/30/04

Watson: I definitely have an appreciation for them as far as the winning aspect goes. Growing up I was always a big college football fan.

Q: What do you know of this team? Has this been a team that you have had an appreciation for before you were drafted by them?

BW: I definitely have an appreciation for them as far as the winning aspect goes. Growing up I was always a big college football fan. My dad played college football, I wanted to play college football. I was more about college football growing up, than pro football. When I got to college I was looking to see what the pros did and model our team after the guys who were successful. The Patriots obviously have a very successful program.

Q: How special is it to be drafted by a team that has won the Super Bowl two out of the last three years?

BW: It is. It took me three days to take it all in. You get the call and then you are fulfilling a dream of playing in the pros and then on top of that you are playing for a team that has won the championship. It is just a dream come true for me.

Q: What type of advice have you received regarding the change of climate from the South?

BW: I'm from South Carolina. Everyone told me it is different, but you are going to get used to it. The great thing is that I get to go to a new city and experience new people, a new climate, new things.

Q: What has happened these last few days?

BW: People look at you differently. I'm still the same Benjamin. I just got a phone call and I will be playing pro football. I finally settled down and got into my normal workout schedule and I'm starting to realize that was just the beginning. Now I have to continue to work just to be able to play on this level.

Q: What was it like growing up with six siblings?

BW: It was fun. You always had someone to fight with and someone to love at the same time. Me and my sister [Jessica] would always go at it. She runs track for Coastal Carolina. We used to fight like cats and dogs. Now we are best friends and call each other all the time, love each other. You always have half a basketball team to play with. They of course look up to me.

Q: I heard that you can take her on the track from zero to 200 yards and then she can take you?

BW: She broke the South Carolina state record in the 800 meters in high school. Up to a quarter mile I have her, but after that she has me.

Q: What are your early impressions of Coach Belichick?

BW: I haven't had a chance to meet with him yet. I talked to him briefly on the phone when was drafted. I'm supposed to be meeting him directly after this.

Q: What are your impressions of the Krafts?

BW: They seem like they have everything together. They are very easy to talk to. They are behind the team. Mr. Kraft talked to me about how there is a team aspect here. I think that is very important to why they are winning so much and doing so well.

Q: Do you consider yourself a student of the game?

BW: The further along I have gone in football, the more a student of the game you have to be. Like you said, everybody can run and jump. At this level everyone can do everything well and many times better than you can. Think definitely on this level, I'm going to become even more of a student of the game as far as breaking down film, taking notes and meetings in order to be successful.

Q: If you had a dream to play in the NFL growing up, why go to Duke then?

BW: Because I believe that you can go to the NFL from anywhere. There are Hall of Famers that went to little I-AA schools. If you have the talent, they are going to find where ever you are. That is what I believe.

Q: Then what made you change your mind and then transfer from Duke?

BW: I went to Duke initially because of the academics. It was an Ivy League education, but you play in the ACC. But when I was there, I just wasn't happy with the football aspect, the winning aspect of it. We worked so hard everyday in practice and then on Saturdays we struggled a lot of times. I wanted a chance to play for the national championship, play in big Bowl games and do all the big-time college football things. Thaïs why I decided to go to Georgia.

Q: That didn't affect you when you first came out of high school?

BW: No, I didn't realize until I got to Duke how important all that stuff was to me, how I was kind of selling myself short on that end of the deal.

Q: What did you get your degree in?

BW: Finance

Q: Was there a lot of work with that?

BW: Oh yeah. Finance was hard. Some of those classes you just sit there looking. When you get home you have to look and see what exactly happened. Finance was tough, but I enjoyed it. The thing I like about Finance is the right and wrong answer. It might take you eight steps to get there, but when you get there it is so satisfying.

Q: Are you going to represent yourself?

BW: I'm not going to do that. I got to be totally focused on football. I like to think that if I wanted to, I could.

Q: Where did you think you would go in the draft process?

BW: All the inclinations I got were that it was going to be late in the first to early in the second. I went into the draft looking at it like I'm going to get drafted in rounds one through seven somewhere because the draft is just so unpredictable. I got that range. As far as teams go, we didn't have any idea what team was going to pick me.

Q: Did you have more conversations with certain teams?

BW: Definitely. I was talking to a guy from the Patriots earlier today … I talked to the Patriots at the Senior Bowl. That was the last time that I talked to them. When they called me I wasn't even expecting it. It was a surprise.

Q: Who was more active?

BW: I interviewed with maybe 16 teams at the combine.

Q: The Patriots weren't one of them?

BW: No.

Q: Did anyone else call you in that first round?

BW: No, they were the first call that I received. Thank God that no one could play with my mind. When I got the call that was it.

Q: When did you first start running faster and jumping higher than the rest of your friends?

BW: I have pretty much always been like that to a degree. God blessed me with great talent and good genetics. My dad played ball. My mother swam. Plus He blessed me with a good work ethic and a drive to want to be the best. I pride myself on leaving no stone unturned as far as being the most prepared that I can be. I have always been at the top.

Q: Do you have other family members that compete in athletics as well?

BW: I have a brother that is in seventh grade. He is going to start playing football next year. He is like I was. I would come home and I would want to work out at 8:30 in the morning. This kid is in seventh grade and he wants to come out and work with me at 8:30 in the morning. He is like that. He practices his tuba every day without being told. He is probably going to be one of the next athletes in our family. All the rest of them play soccer and everything.

Q: How old are all of them?

BW: I'm 23. I have a sister Jessica who is 21. I have a brother Matthew who is 15. I have a brother Asa who is 13. I have a sister Karis that is 11. I have a brother Joel that is eight.

Q: Did I read right that you benched 565 lbs?

BW: I did do that one time.

Q: Did you hurt any thing?

BW: Not that I know of.

Q: While that is a great accomplishment, you must laugh because you realize it doesn't have anything to do with how you play football?

BW: Exactly. I get my name on the all-time Georgia bench list for the record, but like you said it doesn't mean you can go out there on this grass and play football.

Q: Did you compete a lot with Boss Bailey for those records?

BW: Boss is a guy you really can't compete with. Boss is a linebacker that had the fastest 40 time and the highest vertical on the team. We try to catch up to Boss.

Q: With all the great numbers, why didn't you have more catches?

BW: I missed a few games and some offenses cater to the tight end more than others. I don't think that it was anything that I did. I did what I was supposed to do in our offense. Our offense scheme wasn't to throw the ball a lot to the tight end. We spread it around a lot, but we didn't have one specific receiver that we went to a lot. It was one of those things that I couldn't control.

Q: You are coming onto a championship team. What are your expectations?

BW: To win another championship. It is going to be hard. I was talking to Vince [Wilfork], he played at Miami, and he said when you are on the top everyone is gunning for you. I expect to come here and first of all learn from these guys because they are the best obviously or else they wouldn't be champions. I want to learn from them to make me a better football player and contribute any way I can.

Q: What are your impressions of Tom Brady?

BW: I haven't met him yet personally, but from a far watching him on TV he seems like the type of quarterback to take control in the pocket. His athletic ability you can see by the way he throws the ball. Just his personality is the biggest asset he has.

Q: What was your reaction when you got that phone call from the Patriots?

BW: I would show you but I have a suit on. I was running around acting like an idiot. I took a victory lap around my block. I was excited. The first thing we did was pray and thank God that I was blessed with this opportunity. I was really excited. I have never seen my parents act like that before.

Q: How have these last few days been? Is that a new suit?

BW: I got a free suit. I thought I should wear it. It has been fast. Now it is time to play football. I was drafted, but that doesn't mean anything besides the fact that you have an opportunity to play for a team. You still have to continue to do the things that got you drafted in the first place. This is the first step for that.

Q: Are you nervous for tomorrow?

BW: Not really. It is just the unknown. We have been playing football since we were in middle school. It is the same game, it is just different pressures added to it. Once I get out there it will be football again.

Q: Is there a player that has helped you with the process and getting ready for the NFL?

BW: The player that has meant the most to me is Randy McMichael, the tight end from the Dolphins. I played behind him at Georgia. We stayed in contact and he actually came up from Miami for the draft with his wife to support me. When I was on the phone with the Patriots, he was sitting there patting me on the back. He was telling me that it was going to be all right. He has given me a lot of advice. He actually told me what a great program this was and what a great team camaraderie they have with each and how great the coaches are. He sold me on the Patriots and he plays for the Dolphins. He also said when he comes up here he is going to try to give it to us. I said nah, nah.

Q: Was it stressful sitting on the coach waiting? Explain the emotions.

BW: It was all of the above. The first round is just so long. It takes five and a half hours. You can still be a first rounder, but not go until 5:30 in the evening. As it went on, you are just getting itchy.

Q: When do you think you became a first round draft pick?

BW: I think the combine and the Senior Bowl definitely helped me out a lot. Just the fact that all of the prospects were there and the whole NFL was there to judge you on a level playing field helped me out a lot and pushed me up in that round. It only takes one team to like you. Thank God the Patriots did.

Q: After the regular season ended, where did you think you would go?

BW: After the regular season I was still ranked among the top three tight ends. I was thinking late in the first through the third round. I maybe would have gone a little bit later. I definitely think the combine and Senior Bowl gives the NFL a chance to watch you play move me up a couple of notches.

Q: Do you consider yourself a workout warrior?

BW: I do consider myself a workout warrior, but I also consider myself a football player. I consider myself as someone who because I'm a workout warrior it has helped me play football. Some guys don't have to do anything because they just have it. I feel like I'm one of those guys where work ethic has helped me get to where I am more than just unnatural ability.

Q: Are your statistics misleading?

BW: It is not misleading. It is what it is. I did catch the ball 23 times, but you don't see how many balls you catch in practice and all that. Just because someone catches the ball a certain number of times doesn't make them a certain type of player. There are a lot of other things that factor into it like type of offense, coaches calls, what they want to do in situations, who you have in the backfield. There are a lot of factors that go into it. Don't just judge me on that.

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