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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference on media day at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 29, 2008.

*(On his pregame speech and when he starts to think about what he is going to say to the team) *

BB: I think it will probably come more as the game gets closer and we see really where our team is and maybe what the most important issues are at that point. As you know, during the course of the week sometimes things fluctuate a little bit and you want to make sure your team is focused on a particular area going into the game. Sometimes you know what that's going to be at the beginning of the week but sometimes you don't and sometimes it kind of depends on how the week goes, so probably focus on that Friday.

*(On what he does in the off-season to unwind and regroup) *

BB: Well, one day we'll go fishing with Jimmy Johnson (laughs). That will be one day. It's just good to kick back, spend a little time with the kids, you know maybe go down - somebody's got to go down and scout those Florida schools. I put myself on that assignment. It would be good to go down and catch up with Tony La Russa and the Red Sox in Florida for Spring Training, stuff like that.

*(On golfing) *

BB: Yeah, I hack it around a little bit. Erratic. Some good ones, some bad ones.

*(On golfing in Arizona) *

BB: Well, we're not down here to play any golf. We have the whole offseason to play golf, if anyone wants to play golf. We're not going to play golf this trip.

*(On Ernie Adams) *

BB: We were both seniors at Andover and he knew a lot about my dad and our family and Navy football. It was, it was. We talked a lot about football X's and O's. He's read a lot of football books and had read books by coaches that I either had met or had read their books as well, so we had a good bond there real early. And, of course, we played on the same team, on the undefeated team there at Andover, so we knew each other from on the field. He played guard; I played center. It's not two guys you'd really want to spend a lot of time running or passing behind, but it was a lot of fun playing with him. We played next to each other and developed a great friendship there in that year.

*(Inaudible) *

BB: That probably goes back to his roots at Dexter and then at Andover, and just his love of sports. He's also very knowledgeable on a lot of other sports, particularly baseball. I'd say he probably followed those from when he was really young, sure.

*(On preparing for backups and injuries) *

BB: Not a whole lot. We really focus on all 53 players and whichever ones are - Unless somebody's definitely out of the game so it's down to 52 or 51, whatever it is, we'll continue to be ready for every guy. And, you know, a good example of that came up in the Super Bowl against the Eagles with T.O. [Terrell Owens]. All of the experts talked about what he would and what he wouldn't be able to do, and you saw how he played in that game - he played great. So, I think a lot of guys can go from not very healthy to real healthy in a hurry and a lot of guys can be healthy and on the first play of the game something happens and somebody else will be in there, so I just think you have to prepare for all of the guys on the active roster and whichever ones are in the game, then you compete against those players. But I think you prepare for all of them.

*(On injury reports) *

BB:I think it's probably - You know, it's a very inexact way of doing it, but there's a system involved and that's what it is. It's not perfect, but there's a lot of latitude in there. You start talking about percentages of this, and this percent chance and that percent chance, some other percent chance - what good is that? It's hard. It's unspecific, and that's the way injuries are.

*(On the Patriots giving limited injury reports) *

BB: We comply with all of the reports just like everybody else does.

*(On offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels) *

BB: Well, Josh came into our organization and worked in personnel for a while, then he worked on the defense, breaking down film, and then I moved him over to offense and he worked over there, worked on the quarterbacks with Charlie [Weis] and I. Then Charlie left and he moved up. So he's had a good experience at our organization. Of course, he worked for Coach [Nick] Saban up at Michigan State, so he's been very well schooled in the fundamentals and the X's and O's of football. [He] comes from a coaching family. His dad, Tom, is a tremendous high school coach, so he has a good instinctive football background. He's been in personnel, he's been on defense, he's been on offense, he's been around football all of his life - high school football - so I think he's a guy that has a lot of experiences and he's very… I'd say he has a good perspective on the game. He's a guy that can take everything in perspective and sort it all out and get to the most important things.

*(On McDaniels being a young coach) *

BB: No, I went through that as a coach, too. People talked about my age. I've been a young coach. Now I'm an old coach. I don't think it's about age. I think it's about what you can contribute and what you're able to do.

*(On players buying into the system and not giving things away to the media) *

BB: [We] try to answer the questions in a forthright way.

*(On what he's learned) *

BB: I think you learn something every game, every season, every year. So, I mean, I've learned a lot every year, whether it was 12 years with the Giants, a year in Denver, two years in Detroit, a year in Baltimore, five years in Cleveland. I mean you always learn something.

*(On what he learned in Cleveland) *

BB: I mean, over five years. That's probably 500 practices, however many games. I mean, the whole composite. You can't help but learn being on that job for five years.

*(On his relationship with Tom Coughlin) *

BB: Tom and I go back to our years at the Giants and we've maintained a really good relationship since then, when he went to BC and then Jacksonville and New York. We play him every year, basically, in preseason games and as I've traveled and he's traveled, it's ironic but I think in a way it's satisfying for both of us to be here this week. Of course, the friendship won't be much of one on Sunday afternoon for a few hours, but before and after that, I have a lot of respect for Tom and his family and what he's done as a coach. We had a great working relationship at the Giants, probably as good as I've ever had with another assistant coach on the other side of the ball. We worked on a daily basis, when I coached the defensive backs and he coached the receivers, on not only trying to make each other better but to try to help each other with things that we [saw] each week with our opponents and we talked a lot of specifics about coaching. It was very insightful to me. I think Tom is an excellent football coach.

*(On the "new" Tom Coughlin) *

BB: I've always liked Tom, I've always gotten along with Tom and Tom's been very successful as a coach, both in his career in Jacksonville, to take a brand new franchise and what he did with them - pretty good. It's pretty good. He had a lot of success at BC. I think Tom's a good football coach. He always has been to me, so it doesn't surprise me that he's done well.

*(On what is most alike about he and Coach Coughlin.) *

BB: I guess we both like football and we both like to win.

*(On his relationship with Tom Brady) *

BB: You know, when Tom and I meet there's no real timeframe. We go until we get it done, and that can be longer or shorter, but it's never an issue about time. It's not, you know, we have something else to do or somewhere else to go. When we're involved in something, there's nothing more important than that, and to me there's nothing more important than Tom Brady and to him there's nothing more important than what we're talking about. I think that's kind of indicative of how our relationship's been. I've met with Tom on a regular basis for seven years, talking multiple times a week, and that's the way it always is. It doesn't matter - It's let's get everything covered, let's get everything done, let's do all we can to prepare to win. It doesn't matter how long it takes or where it is or what it's about.

*(On what he can apply from his previous Super Bowl experiences to this year) *

BB: I don't know if any people ever see exactly the same, but I'm sure there's some similarities and I'm sure there are some differences. Each coach does what's best for his team and I know from experience you don't always do the same thing every year. Sometimes you have to change because you think it is what's best for your team that year. Even though philosophically I don't think I've changed, still from year to year, we do things differently. That's because of what I feel like our team needs or where we are at that particular point in the year in our program.

*(On how much he's talked to the team about what it would take to finish 19-0) *

BB: We talk to our team about what it takes to win and what we need to do to beat the New York Giants. That's what we talk about. That's really all there is.

*(On his coaching philosophy) *

BB: I mean, what's important to me is good coaches. Good coordinators, good coaches. Dean Pees I think is an outstanding coordinator. He's as good as any coordinator that I've ever coached with. He's a lot older than Josh. Josh does a great job. Josh is a lot younger than Dean. I don't think it's about age, I think it's about production and performance.

*(On the Patriots assistants) *

BB: I think it's an opportunity for somebody to come in and, first of all, contribute to our program, and if they can do that, then they have value for us. It also gives them an opportunity to learn a lot about football. I would say anybody that goes through a coaching assistant situation at our program, it would be like taking a graduate course in football. They'd learn a lot. It's our system - it may not apply to something else - but you learn a lot about football, not just what we do, but just football in general.

*(On Logan Mankins) *

BB: Logan [Mankins] really is one of our most consistent players and he's been that ever since he came here. We put him right in there at left guard almost immediately after he came in and he's been an outstanding player for us in every phase of the game. He's good in the running game, he's good in pass-protection, he pulls and gets out into space well. On screen plays and plays like that, he's tough, he's physical, he's strong, he's athletic. He was well coached at Fresno [State] by Pat Hill. Pat recommended him very highly and I'm glad he did.

*(On the Patriots' connections to Fresno State) *

BB: That's right. We have a good Bulldog connection. We have a good Marshall connection, but you know, again, Pat -- All three of those guys Pat was very high on, recommended them, because Pat knows what our program is about a little bit and how they'd fit in. [Their] skills also fit in well with what we were looking for, to do Logan, James [Sanders] and Steve Spach, so it was a good fit off the field, it was a good fit on the field.

*(On Asante Samuel) *

BB: Well, Asante's been a very productive player for us from the time he got here. [Just like] any player that plays five years - of course you improve, get better at techniques and recognize things quicker and all of that, but Asante's a real good football player. He disguises well, he knows how to change up things for receivers and quarterbacks to make it harder on them. He has very good hands, he's very instinctive and he makes a lot of plays on the ball. So, of course he's improved, but he's been a productive player since really the day when he got here.

*(On the injury report) *

BB: We do what's required. Whatever we have to do, whatever the reports are, whatever we have to file, we do.

*(On what the downside of giving a specific percentage would be) *

BB: Because I can't tell you that. I can't tell you what percent anybody is. I can't tell you what percent I am.

*(On if he's fighting through a cold) *

BB: Yeah. Yes, I'd say somewhere between 40 and 92 [percent].

*(On Matt Light) *

BB: No, Matt's [Light] been a very consistent player for us again. He's started at left tackle since his rookie year and, again, like we talked about with Asante, of course he's improved over that period of time. He's gotten stronger, his techniques have gotten better, he's gained experience gaining against those outstanding rushers that he sees over there on the defensive right or left side. Matt's a smart guy, he works hard, he physically has good tools to work for the position and I think that his level of consistency is probably the best thing about Matt. You have a very consistent guy, week after week, play after play, game after game, and that's - for an offensive lineman, that's huge.

*(On the Super Bowl halftime) *

BB: Well, it's a lot longer. I don't know how long it is - 40 minutes, 45 minutes, whatever it is. Normally in a regular season game you have 12 minutes. By the time you get off the field, make a few adjustments [and] get back on the field, you kind of feel a little rushed for time, and there's certainly no issue about your players getting warmed up again or anything like that because they just got off the field and now it's time to go back on. In the Super Bowl, you have a lot longer time period there, and having enough time to make adjustments isn't an issue, but I do think that the players have to re-warm up or get ready to go again after a much longer lapse.

*(On what the Patriots do during the extended Super Bowl halftime) *

BB: We try to budget it out to do different things in there. Part of it's to go over adjustments, part of it's to get them loosened up and stretched again, part of it's to try to let things settle down and make sure we know when we start talking about adjustments and things like that that we really can organize it in a way that's most efficient.

*(Inaudible) *

BB: Time is what you make out of it, so however much time you have, you make the most out of it, whether it's a minute or a day or a year or whatever it is. You make the most out of that time.

(On Junior Seau and the longevity of his career)

BB: It doesn't surprise me. I coached Junior in '97 out at the Pro Bowl and he's a special guy. He's obviously a future Hall of Fame player, he's had a tremendous career and his leadership, his energy, his enthusiasm for the game and his performance levels are pretty well documented. You don't need me to sit here and throw out a lot of compliments - they're all there. Twelve Pro Bowls or whatever it was. He's a tremendous player and he's brought that to our organization. I'm glad we have him. We have a lot of other players besides him. I don't want to take anything away from him, but at the same time, he's been great to coach and great to have on our football team.

*(On his relationship with the players) *

BB: I feel like I have a good relationship with a lot of players on our team, whether it's the Tom Bradys or the Troy Browns or the Logan Mankins or whoever they are. I try to coach the whole team, not just one group.

*(On trades) *

BB: Well, we had an opportunity to get him there at the draft. We just felt like he would help our football team, and he certainly has. That was the most important thing, was to try to improve our team. You can't control trades. You have to have another party involved. The fact that it worked out, it helped out football team and that was good, but if they hadn't traded him, then it never would have happened. You do what you can do and what you can't do, you go along.

*(On trades) *

BB: Again, we got players that we felt like could help our football team. We felt Wes Welker could help our team; we traded for Wes Welker. We thought Randy [Moss] could help our team; we traded for Randy Moss. They're not the same player. They're both good players, but if we feel like they can help our football team and the value is something that we feel like is appropriate, then we're not afraid to make the trade. We traded for Corey Dillon, you know? It's not about - that's who's available. If somebody won't trade a player, then they're not available, then there's nothing to talk about.

*(Inaudible) *

BB: I don't think so. Talk to them about that, but I don't think so.

*(Greeting from Sal Paolantonio) *

BB: Sal, you're looking sharp, as usual.

*(On asking his players about Bill Belichick away from coaching) *

BB: I bet that's been entertaining.

*(On what he likes to do in his spare time) *

BB: Well, you know, right now, as you know, when you have three kids, you try to spend as much time as you can with them. They're growing up and their activities and all, so that eats into quite a bit of it, but it's a lot of fun.

*(On his favorite TV show) *

BB: I don't watch a lot of TV. Planet Earth. That's awesome. I've watched that a couple times.

(On his favorite movie)

BB: [It would] be… I don't have a favorite movie. Gone with the Wind. Bourne Identity, I liked.

(On his choice of late night snacks)

BB: Anything with salt on it. Anything with salt. Chips, pretzels, Fritos - anything with salt.

(On what he's going do after coaching)

BB: I haven't thought about it, Sal. Maybe I was born to coach.

(On welcoming him to Arizona)

BB: Great to be here.

(On the reporter's job doing entertainment and fashion reports)

BB: That's awesome. You're right at the right spot.

(On if he will ever wear a tie on the sideline)

BB: I don't know. Not this week.

(On if he's ever had a player miss a large amount of training camp, as Michael Strahan did this year)

BB: Sure. We've had players that have missed time in training camp. [They've] still come back and played well. [Lawrence] Taylor missed camp one year, [Carl] Banks missed it. We've had players with the Patriots that - Moss missed a lot of camp this year.

(On how much impact missing camp has)

BB: Well, I think that training camp's different for different people, so it's one thing for a guy who needs a lot of reps and needs a lot of practice, a rookie, to get it. It's another thing for a guy who's got a lot of experience, who you don't want to overwork. You know he's going to be ready; he just needs enough to get ready. He doesn't need enough to wear down, so there's a fine line between that and still having consistency on your time.

(On remembering Marquise Hill)

BB: After Marquise passed away, we left some things in his locker as kind of a remembrance to Marquise. I think every day when we go out to practice or we go out for our games, you kind of walk right past that locker, and I know that I've gained a lot of inspiration and strength from that, just by seeing that locker and the memory it brings back of Marquise and the whole situation. When we left there, that's going to be our last time in the locker room this year and I just want to remind everybody - and I'm sure they do it, too, and I know I don't need to say it - but I just felt it's been a source of strength for me and I know it has for a lot of our other players. I just thought it was something that maybe the whole team should think about for a minute.

*(On Tedy Bruschi) *

BB: Well, Tedy Bruschi means an awful lot to this football team. It's funny and very ironic that Tedy's here playing in Arizona and we're working out at Arizona State. When I saw him in the weight room yesterday and he's working out in the Arizona State weight room, I said to him, "Did you ever think this was going to happen? It's pretty ironic." Tedy's great, though. He's the best. His rookie year was '96 and that was my first year with the Patriots. I was coaching the secondary, Tedy played linebacker, so we worked on a number of things. I got to know Tedy very well that year and then came back a few years later, but I really feel like I've been with him all the way through. He's just a terrific player. He's a great teammate, he's been a captain every year, he has good leadership, toughness, and he's got a heart - You know, if you look up football player in the dictionary, his picture should be next to it. He's a good football player.

*(Inaudible) *

BB: I don't know any Spanish. Not one word.

*(On his favorite memory from being with the Giants) *

BB: It would be the '86 and the '90 Super Bowl teams.

*(On if he thinks about them often) *

BB: I do. Yeah, I do. Those are great years. Beating Washington in the NFC Championship then going to Pasadena and beating Denver out there, that was awesome. And then '90, that season where we started out 10-0, lost to Buffalo 13-3, then beat Chicago and San Francisco in the playoffs and Buffalo in the Super Bowl that nobody really thought we had much of a chance in that game, especially after they had beaten us earlier in the regular season. Those are some great memories. [I've had] a lot of good ones along the way - the players that I had the opportunity to coach there - the Dave Jenningses, the Lawrence Taylors, the Pepper Johnsons, Carl Banks - all of those guys. I'll never forget them. They were a huge part of my life and it gave me the opportunity to further my coaching career.

*(On if this year's Giants are similar to the 1990 Giants) *

BB: I think every game is different.

*(On not surrounding *

BB: I think the most important thing you want on your team is people who can contribute. Whatever form that takes, you give them a job to do, you need them to do it and you need them to contribute to make your program stronger, in whatever role that is.

*(On support and advice from the coaching community) *

BB: As much as you can have. It's all around - I mean, all of those guys. I've watched them from a long time and learned a lot from watching them - Chuck Noll was awesome. The teams he had at the Steelers and I was at the Colts in '75 when they beat us in the Divisional game. Bill Walsh, we competed against him on a regular basis when I was with the Giants and Bill and I became very good friends after he left coaching. So, yeah, and look, there's a lot of great coaches in the game now, today, that are on other teams, other organizations that do an outstanding job. I relish those relationships with all of those guys.

*(On scouting college players for pro football) *

BB: I don't know but it's the same - Look, Adalius Thomas was drafted in the same round Tom Brady was, in the 2000 draft. You know, there are a lot of circumstances that surround players coming out of high school and college. I don't know - Each guy's different. Sometimes it's injury, sometimes it's exposure, sometimes it's guys played a position in high school that's different than what they played in college and they're able to blossom. And it goes the other way, too. We've all seen great high school players that aren't good college players and vice versa, so I think each case is a little bit different. We see that in the NFL draft, too. Some guys get drafted high and they don't pan out, and other guys are free agents and become great players.

*(On Adalius Thomas) *

BB: Adalius has been great. He's been great. He has a lot of personality, he's really fit in well with our football team, he's tough, he's versatile, he's done a lot of things well, and the players, his teammates, have really taken to him, along with Junior. A couple of new guys at that position. But he's a good football player. He's great to have on this team.

(On Kevin Faulk)

BB: You know, Kevin's… He's really a good football player. He's been a very good, productive guy for us. He was elected captain of the team this year, which I think right there speaks to his leadership and respect that he has on our football team. Kevin's a play-maker with the ball in his hands. He can return kicks, he can run, he can catch, he's very good at blitz pick-up and he's a great team player. He has one of the best attitudes of any player I've ever worked with. He's working hard to try to get better and doing what's best for the football team, whatever that role is for him. There's no player I respect more than Kevin Faulk. He's awesome.

*(On how to get him to smile) *

BB: (tight smile)

*(On if he'd smile bigger if given a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) *

BB: If you put peanut butter on both sides.

*(On the "boondoggle" play) *

BB: I'm not sure which one you're talking about, buddy.

*(On having his kids be involved with the team) *

BB: It's great. It's great to be able to have your kids be part of what you do as a father. Of course, I spend a lot of time with the team, a lot of time away from home. It's great for them to be able to be a part of those activities, whether it's working at training camp, practices, games, meetings or whatever. It's a great opportunity for them to be around some of our outstanding players to see how hard they work, how special they are and see what makes them good players, because that's something that, unfortunately, the fans don't really get to see on a daily basis, how hard, how professional a lot of our players are.

*(On his own background growing up around football) *

BB: Yeah, well, it's something that happened to me when I was a kid and I went over to watch Navy and hang out with my dad and Joe Bellino and Roger Staubach and Tom Lynch and Pat Donnelly and guys like that. I just didn't realize it was any different than… They were the best players because they worked the hardest. They were the first ones out to practice, they were the last ones to leave. They were always doing extra things at the end of practice, and I kind of thought that was the way it was supposed to be. So, it was a great example for me and, again, I think that's something that my children can learn from, from our players.

*(On if it's more of a learning experience than a football capacity) *

BB: Oh, yeah, of course. No, it's not about football. It's just about being professional, working hard, doing the right thing.

*(On how he's perceived and how accurate it is) *

BB: I don't know. Next?

*(On the historical significance of the season) *

BB: No, right now we're just thinking about the Giants. That's the only game.

*(On who he would want to play him in the movie made about this season) *

BB: I don't know.

*(On where he gained his understanding of the financial aspect of football) *

BB: I was in Cleveland when the salary cap was instituted in '92/'93, in there, so I talked to a lot of people in basketball, like Jerry West, who [in the] NBA dealt with salary cap and through those years, the '93, '94, '95, I tried to - that was part of my job there, was to try to get an understanding of salary cap value and how to maximize the money that you have to spend on football players.

*(On if he has any good things to say about Arizona) *

BB: Only good things. It's been great. Yeah, this is, you know, our fourth trip here with the Patriots. The facilities are outstanding. The staff, all of the people we've worked with are very helpful and I can see they put a lot into this event and they're very well-prepared for it. We haven't had one glitch on anything. It's gone as smoothly as it could go. It's such a massive event, but it's been tremendous.

*(On Coach Don Shula and Coach Bobby Knight) *

BB: I know both of those coaches personally and have great respect for them. Coach Shula was really the pro coach that I looked up to and really idolized as a kid when I grew up in Annapolis and he was at Baltimore with the Colts, and then ultimately he moved to the Dolphins. He and my dad go back to some relationship they had in Ohio, when my dad was a reserve and Coach Shula was at John Carroll and with the Cleveland Browns and all of that. And Coach Knight, I mean, I've known him for a long time and there's nobody I have more respect for in the coaching fraternity than Coach Knight. I talk to him on a regular basis. He's been very helpful in talking to him about coaching principles and just general coaching things, not specific to football or basketball, but more just how to be a coach and how players handle situations, getting a team ready, preparing a team - all of that stuff.

*(On what it would mean to go undefeated) *

BB: Again, right now the only thing we're really thinking about is winning this game against the Giants. That's it. It doesn't really make any difference what our record is or what record the Giants have or anybody else. The winner of this game is the champion, and that's really all it's about. That's what we're thinking about, is trying to be champions of the NFL this season. The rest of it, maybe we'll talk about it later, but right now I really haven't given it much thought. I'm just trying to figure out a way hopefully we can hold the Giants to less than 35 points. That would be a start.

*(On what his confidence level is in Stephen Gostkowski and if he wishes he had experience with game-winning kicks) *

BB: I have a lot of confidence in our football team. Whatever the situation is that comes up at the end of the game that we need to do, I'm confident that we'll do it. We've had a number of close games and plenty of times when we had to stop them, times when we had to use the clock, times when we had to get a first down, cover an onside kick - whatever it happens to be. If that situation comes up, hopefully we'll be able to do it.

(On the confidence he has in his players)

BB: When you send a player out on the field, you'd better have confidence he can do his job, or you'd better get somebody else. And I'm confident in all of our players.

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