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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media from the team hotel in Indianapolis, IN on Sunday, January 29, 2012.

(Opening statement)
"It's nice to be in Indianapolis. It's about the nicest I've seen it here in February. It's an honor to represent the AFC and New England in this game. A tremendous challenge here with the Giants. The Giants are a great football team. They've done an outstanding job all year, particularly here at the end of the season. (Giants president and CEO) John Mara and his family - I have a close relationship with them - a lot of respect for their organization. (Giants head coach) Tom (Coughlin) and I are good friends, and we go back quite a ways. He and his staff have done a great job with his football team. They have a lot of good football players, they are well-coached, disciplined and tough. They have played very well over the last five weeks and during the course of the season as well, which we saw plenty of that during the regular season. Looking forward to a good week of work here, a good opportunity to play against another great football team. Hopefully, we will be ready to go on Sunday night. We have a lot of work in front of us. I think our players are obviously excited to be here, looking forward to the challenge and we get to work tomorrow out on the field."

(on how Sunday went and why they came on Sunday instead of Monday)
"We had a good day. We had a brief meeting this morning and took care of a few things. We had a great turnout at the stadium. I don't know how many fans there were, but the whole lower deck was packed on the whole side of the field and the end zones. We got a great send-off. Our fans have been great all year, like they usually have. We traveled fine, and we plan to get out on the field tomorrow, take Tuesday off and get back to work on Wednesday. We practiced Thursday and Friday in New England and Saturday and Sunday we were off; on the field Monday, Tuesday off, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday during the week. It puts us on a normal schedule."

(on how to help players new to Super Bowl week adjust to what is ahead)
"We'll try to approach it with as much as routine as we can. Certainly, there will be a lot of things different this week, and there will be a lot of things that will be the same. In terms of our preparation, our daily routine, where we should be at various points of the week in terms of our preparation and routine, we'll try to stay on those. That's the best way for us to handle it. Both teams have to deal with the same. Whatever is here, is here. We all have to deal with that. We'll try to focus on what we are really here for: that's our performance Sunday night and our preparation toward that performance. We've talked about that. The team's been great all year in terms of their focus and preparation. We've been in big games, but not as big as this one, but plenty of big games during the course of the year. Hopefully that will serve us well in our preparation this week."

(on how much of his football philosophy and what he feels about the game came from his father, Steve)
"How much of it? I'd say quite a bit. Growing up with it, it was my life as a kid from when I first remember; four, five, six years old through the rest of my life. He had a huge impact on my childhood, my love for the game and my involvement in the game as a coach, even though I played poorly. It was still a good experience to play, but coaching, really, has always been the love. I think a lot of little things he did in terms of work ethic and teamwork. Being around the Naval Academy, of course, that is a very unique atmosphere, particularly as it relates to football, but the teamwork that comes with that, and the commitment that those players and teams have, I saw at a young age. The Joe Bellinos, the Roger Staubachs, the Tom Lynchs, the Pat Donnellys, it's hard to really measure exactly what percentage of impact it was, other to say it was significant. It's huge. I still maintain a close contact with those players today. It's something that has stayed with me through my life, even though I wasn't really a part of those teams. I've been adopted by some of them, and that is a special feeling. I'd also say that my high school coach, Al Laramore, who is a hall-of-fame coach in the state of Maryland, had a similar attitude and a different style for sure. Coach won championships in three sports: football, basketball and lacrosse. He had a lot of the same attitudes toward playing and teamwork. I grew up that way, and that shaped me to a large degree, as has all my coaching experiences and certainly those 10 years with (Bill) Parcells in New York, as well as New England and New York again. He was a huge influence as well. He reinforced a lot of things as well."

(on Indiana hospitality)
"I never had too much hospitality here until I went for it on fourth and 2 (against the Colts in a 35-34 loss in 2009), and since then, I've been greeted in a lot more friendly manner than I have in the past."

(on comparing Tom Brady now to when he played in his first Super Bowl)
"Tom is a great football player, but he's come a long way from where he was in 2001, as we all have. Tom works extremely hard, he is very coachable, and what you tell him to do, he works very hard on. He's never satisfied on where he's at, what he's done or how he's playing. He always finds ways to work on things to make him a better player - better preparation and being more knowledgeable about what we are doing, what our opponents are doing and situation football. I'd say he's really improved on a daily basis. Certainly, it's incremental. It's a lot of small steps since he plays at a high level. He's always continued to do that. I think it's a big jump from where he was in that game; slow, steady and very diligent."

(on if the Patriots are looking for revenge for the loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII)
"I've been asked about that game for several days now. All of the games in the past really don't mean that much at this point. This game is about this team this year. There aren't really a lot of us coaches and players who were involved in that game, and very few players, in relative terms, between both teams. We are where we are now, and we're different than where we were earlier in the season. The Giants are where they are now, and I think they're different than where they were at different points of the season. To take it back years and years before that, I don't think it has too much bearing on anything. The team that wins Sunday will be the team that performs the best. That's what we are trying to strive our preparations for, is maximizing our performance on Sunday night. Nothing that's happened - wins, losses, anything other than it's a one-game season and a one-week preparation at this point. We are going to put all we have into this one. I don't think anything in the past has too much of a factor in this game."

(on what it would mean to tie Chuck Noll's record of four Super Bowl victories as a coach)
"It would make me feel pretty good. It's a great honor to be mentioned in the same conversation with Chuck. Chuck was the coach of the Steelers the first year I was coach of the Browns. I got to know him my first few years in the league. I coached with several coaches who coached under him at Pittsburgh. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Chuck and the job he did with his team and the organization. So, it is very flattering to be mentioned in the same sentence with Chuck Noll."

(on tight end Rob Gronkowski's status for the week)
"It's a day-to-day."

(on if he ever imagined being in his fifth Super Bowl in 11 years)
"Never for a second. I'd say, wherever I was, I was consumed: Whether I was working for Ted Marchibroda, breaking down film getting ready for the playoff game with the Steelers in 1975, in Detroit coaching the tight ends for coach (Rick) Forzano and coach (Tommy) Hudspeth in 1976-77, Denver in 1978 getting ready for the playoffs out there, with Pittsburgh in 1979, coming to the Giants with coach (Ray) Perkins, coaching the special teams. I loved coaching special teams for Ray Perkins. It was a great job. It was awesome. Then Bill (Parcells) came in, and he was the defensive coordinator in 1981, and I had the opportunity to work with the linebackers and still coach special teams. When Bill took over, I was basically the defensive coordinator as a job description and a title a couple of years later. I loved that job. I loved coaching the Giants' defense. Being in New York, being a part of that great organization and those great players I had the opportunity to coach. In all honesty, I wasn't thinking then about if this was what I was going to do at some other point. We were trying to win there. We won in 1986, and it was a great year. We rebuilt the team, and we won again. I was consumed with that. I really just try to live in the moment, whatever that is. Right now, it's here, and I'm happy to be here, believe me. There's no place I'd rather be. Other points in time, I was dealing with other challenges, other teams and other situations. I tried to do the best I could in those situations with whatever responsibilities I had. I never really thought too much about where it was going to go. I'd say again, learning from my dad. You do your job, take care of your business and hopefully good things will happen, and you'll get other opportunities. But if you don't do what you are supposed to do, then you probably don't deserve anything else. You are not really fulfilling your responsibilities to the team and the organization that is counting on you."

(on Patriots' wide receiver Wes Welker)
"The whole Wes Welker thing started when he was in Miami. He was a very frustrating player to coach against because we really couldn't handle him. He caught passes, he returned kicks, and when (Olindo) Mare got hurt, he even went in and kicked extra points, field goals and kicked off against us. That was annoying, too. We doubled him, we played him in different combinations. He was always the guy we were trying to game plan for, and still couldn't stop. When we had an opportunity to trade for him, we did that. We felt like he would be a good addition to our team, and he has been. We have just as much trouble covering him in practice, and Tom (Brady) has just as much confidence throwing to him as the quarterbacks in Miami did when we were trying to defend him. We don't defend him any better in practice probably than we did trying to defend him when he was at the Dolphins. Coach (Nick) Saban had him down there, and he drove us crazy. That's really the Wes Welker story. He's returned punts for us, blocked well, caught the ball well, and made a lot of clutch plays in all three areas of the field - short, intermediate and deep - third-down conversions and all that. He's been a great player for us. He is so dependable, but that's the way he looked in Miami to us.

(on tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez)
"Rob and Aaron are two totally different stories. Rob had a good sophomore season at Arizona, not over the top, and he missed his entire junior season with a back injury. He was a guy we liked in the draft. He's big, fast and tough, and he brings a lot of qualities you like to that position. It's hard to see him play very much. Any time you take a player with that kind of injury, there is a little bit of a concern there. Our medical people felt good about that. We felt that Rob had all of the traits at that position we were looking for. We just didn't get a chance to see him do it very much. Of course, coach (Mike) Stoops was very helpful in his evaluation of the player because he saw him on a daily basis and saw lots of things we didn't see. He described Rob very accurately to me, and he gave his recommendation of him. Rob has been that and more as far as loving football, loving practice and loving to compete. He's big, strong and tough, and he's ready to take on anybody, like blocking a defensive tackle, run a go route or play on kickoff return. Whatever it is, he accepts the challenge and puts his best effort out there. Usually, that's pretty good. Aaron is a player I am familiar with from Florida who I saw on the practice field. I think he was the youngest or second-youngest player in the draft last year, 20 years old or whatever he was. He came out after three years. He played in an offense that was very productive, but it was an offense that was different than the one we run. There is a little bit of projection there in terms of some of the things we would ask our tight ends to do. He was very productive at Florida. Those two guys complement each other well. They compete against each other in a good way. They learn from each other. They've done a great job for us over the past two seasons. I'm glad we have them."

(on the characteristics the Patriots look for in undrafted and late-round-drafted players)
"One thing we tell all of the players at the beginning of the year, and I'm sure every player has heard this before, is if you look at our track record and history, it's true that I tell the team that I don't care how you got here, it's what you do when you get here. It doesn't matter if you were drafted in the second round, the fifth round, or not drafted at all. Ten years in the league, one year in the league, we are going to play the best players. Whoever that is, is decided by you. Players ask me before the season, if we sign them as a free agent or if we draft them, 'What do you want my role to be?' Whatever you make it, I don't know. If you play good, you will have a big role, if you don't play very well, then someone else will have a bigger role than you will. It's truly open competition, and the guys who play best excel. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and guys like that who weren't drafted or signed off the street, Rob Ninkovich or players like that, whatever they've gotten, they've earned. They did it better than someone else. That's why they got the opportunity. Whoever keeps doing it the best, is going to play more. Whoever doesn't do it as well, is going to have to perform better than the guy in front of them, or they will play less. It's as simple as that. Obviously, those guys all have talent, but I would say they work hard. They are dependable. In the end, that is what you want from a football player. You want somebody you can count on. Those guys have proven over time that we can count on them. They are on the team, and they are a productive group."

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