New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady Press Conference March 27, 2003
Q: How is the shoulder?
TB: I'd say it's getting close. It's not 100 percent. I haven't thrown the ball yet. Actually, I threw it once. But I'm just trying to really let it…you know there is some inflammation that has to die down still so I am trying to cut back on lifting. I had started lifting about two months ago and just realized that I was probably doing it a little too fast so I cut down a little bit.
Q: Any timetable on it?
TB: Yeah, I'm sure it will be fine, hopefully any week now. I thought this week it would feel better. It's not like it's killing me though but as a quarterback you want it to feel perfect. It's not quite perfect yet. God, I miss this [press conferences].
Q: Can you golf?
TB: You know what, I've stopped doing that too, unfortunately. It's something that I've always loved to do. I got to play out in that tournament in Pebble Beach which was awesome, but that isn't going to help me get better any faster. After talking to the doctors, I have to hold off on that too. Hopefully in a couple of weeks, you know, I'm kind of pushing to get back.
Q: What exactly was the diagnosis?
TB: You know Coach doesn't like us to get into that. [Laughter] Believe me, I would go straight from here to his office if I started talking about it. It was just, my shoulder just…
TB: Yeah, hurt.
Q: Are you questionable for this week?
TB: Yeah, that's it. We'll be ready to go in two weeks.
Q: The injury made this a different offseason for you. Did you learn you learn how to make good use of your time?
TB: Yeah, there are still a lot of things I'm getting used to. This is actually the first time… I've been here pretty much the whole offseason. About a month ago, I made a list of all the things I need to do with just kind of the things in my life I wanted to get straightened out and I've been working at that everyday. It seems like, I'm still trying to put things together a lot. It's been such a long process in a sense, but a very quick process, everything that has come about has happened so fast all the 'to do's' get piled up on top of one another. When you are playing football that's really the number one priority and over the last…from July pretty much, from the time we won the Super Bowl to the start of the preseason to the end of the season, it was just madness. It was so fast. I never really got a chance to do…now I am starting to get settled into putting things in order in my life and prioritizing things for me, in my own life so I can really go forward and improve things down the road.
Q: Did you bring your list with you?
Q: Can you give us a couple of examples?
TB: Well, I had moved to a different place and I had boxes piled up all over the place. There were gifts that I wanted to buy for people, wedding gifts that I'm eight months late on. Stuff like that that you take for granted and you lose touch with a lot of relationships, whether it be family or friends, with people that you kind of take for granted. You say, 'I talked to them last week,' 'this is really important today and I am going to try to take care of my football stuff' and you just kind of put that back. I've been home for probably 10 days in the last 18 months. That's stuff you know, you start getting that peace of mind and getting peace of mind in your own life and you realize that things have changed. Not that they changed for the better or for worse, they just changed and I've learned from family to adapt to them.
Q: Has it been easier to do that this year than last year? It must have been overwhelming.
TB: It certainly was. In a sense yes, in another sense no. Everyday, for one thing that I eliminate doing there's two other things that pop up. You always think, 'if I can get to the end of this week it will be easier.' I'm sure we all know that there's always a story to write, there's always something else to do. But if you can kind of…I've had some people helping me out along the way that have kind of steered me in the right direction and say 'this is one way to kind of eliminate some headaches,' so you can focus on the things that really mean something. Not that there's not a lot of priorities in your life, I just want to make sure is that I am spending most of my time on the most important things.
Q: (On dealing with last season)
TB: I think it was a tough season for a lot of us. There was a lot of rewarding things. We started off so well. We just never seemed to be consistent as we would have liked, on offense, on defense, on special teams, our coaches would say the same thing. I think we're getting that edge back. There some competitiveness even in the running drills that we do out there and competitiveness in the weight room. I think there are a lot of guys that are back that are really excited to play. There some key additions that I think are going to help us. Mostly those additions have been on defense, but if they don't give up any points this year, I don't think we'll lose many games, not that the QB ever complains about getting some good defensive guys, especially Rosevelt (Colvin) who I played against. It's been a good three months, it's been a good time to reflect, it's been a good time to kind of refresh, you know, really get focused on this.
Q: How important is this time of year in terms of development?
TB: I think most importantly is being around all your buddies, being around all of the guys that you are going to play with. When you are out there running and you got 10 other guys with you, and you have different running groups, and you are running with the guys and everyone is sweating together and everyone is going 'this sucks' or your cussing out your strength coach, that's what it's all about, the camaraderie. And so, when you're down there and it's third-and-two and you're looking at the same guys in the huddle, you say 'hey it's really time to do it,' whether it be a big week or a big game, whether it be a big game or a big series. It's that process of the camaraderie of the guys.
Q: How much football stuff do you do during this time of year?
TB: We do quite a bit. The day is pretty much structured. I'm usually here for about three to four hours for running, the explosive work, you know, the quickness drills, and then there's some football specific stuff, throwing the balls to the wide outs, working on routes, working on drops, working on timing, defense. Those DB's do backpedal drills, they just do a lot of football specific stuff and that you need to incorporate because if you just try to run straight ahead for four months then all of a sudden you get into training camp, your body is not going to react very well.
Q: How strange was it to watch the Super Bowl this year? Where did you watch it?
TB: I conveniently scheduled a flight during kick off. I had gotten to San Diego a few days before and then I flew out at three o'clock that day. I mean to tell you the truth, I didn't pay attention much. I actually saw the fourth quarter, you know watching the Raiders get beat and watching Tampa Bay, they played so well. For (Rich) Gannon as well as he's played all year and then you see him throw four or five picks, you know, there's not going to be a lot of good sleep for Rich for a while.
Q: Can you talk about John Hufnagel?
TB: He's been a coach that's been around for a while, he's coached a lot pretty good QUARTERBACK's. He's coached Mark Brunell, Peyton Manning. Speaking with Peyton Manning he seems to like him quite a bit. He's been a guy that has played the position. I think he is going to be a very welcomed addition from everything that I hear and not working with him yet, some of the other coaches that have worked with him, they are all excited. It's just a new energy, just a new mix and some new input. He can really add to the mix of guys we've got and the mix of plays we've got and hopefully we'll catch some people off guard next season.
Q: You and Charlie Weis worked out a list of things you wanted to work on. Have you gone back to that list? What is on it?
TB: For a quarterback it's always about improvement. A lot of times at this level, you think that there are really big things to improve but most of it is just technique stuff you know, just working on the overall physical conditioning, getting stronger, getting faster, becoming quicker in the pocket, stronger in the pocket, improving your strength and your conditioning, so you can just develop into a better player. I think of baseball and you watch Barry Bonds, 39, 40 years old and he's playing the best of his life. A lot quarterbacks are playing well into their mid 30s. I think every year they get bigger, stronger and faster, but I also mentally, you mature more and you become more responsible and studying your plays, you know, being in the right place, doing things the right way and then you become more consistent as a player. There's a lot of little things. It's hard to get into specifics now, but there is a lot of footwork stuff and a lot of technique stuff, certain routes that I haven't thrown as well as I would have liked. Stuff like that.
Q: How much will you do over the next couple of weeks with your wide receivers tight ends?
TB: There will be quite a bit. Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday there's throwing. And, you know, it's like each day we'll work on different things. We'll work on out-routes, hitches, fades, curls, in-cuts and that's usually about a half-hour to one hour's work depending on how tired those guys get. The quarterback, we can throw all day. It's tough to get Troy (Brown) running 60 yards 20 times in a row before he says 'I'm done with this.' So there's quite a bit of work.
Q: Where you fit in leadership-wise, that has changed dramatically hasn't it?
TB: Definitely. If there is one thing that I felt that second year is, you don't really feel like you can speak up as much. You really haven't earned your stripes. You're looking at guys like Anthony Pleasant, Mike Compton, Troy, guys that have been around for a while that say 'hey, I know how to do it, I know how to figure these things out for myself, I don't need to listen to some second year kid.' But then when you become a third year guy, it's different. Now it's going into my fourth year, to have been played some really good games, and done well and have had some success, now you realize that there's first, second and third year guys that are looking up to you the same way that I looked up to those guys when I was that age. So you can have much more of an influence on certain guys, in certain positions and also the quarterback that comes with your job description so you can be more vocal, your word carries more weight not only with the players but with the coaches because they respect your work and they respect the results. So, you go in there, now I know the routine, now I know what is going to work for me. It's like you try to trim the fat so to speak. And the preparation and the effort and there are a lot of things that I worked hard on that and said, 'you know, that just hasn't helped much, I'm going to try something else,' so you can ultimately become the best football player you can be.
Q: How much of your development between years one and two can be attributed to this time of year?
TB: A ton of it. This time of year, I think this time of year is important for a guy like Deion (Branch), Dan Graham, Antwoine Womack and those guys who are really…they thought they had it figured out and once you realize you played 16 games, you realize you don't have anything figured out. Physically, they want to develop quite a bit, Charlie (Weis) is going to work those guys pretty hard. I think we all expect a lot from them. I mean, I expect a lot of out Deion. I expect a lot out of Dan because I know what kind of improvement can be made and it's up to them how successful they want to be. Because they have all of the talent, now it's just a matter of commitment and how important it is to them and how great they want to be. Believe me, if you make it to this level you are a talented player. Coach Belichick, RAC (Romeo Crennel) and Charlie evaluate them and say 'hey, you're a part of this team.' They see something, and they've been around for a while, so it's a matter of the next step, the commitment and the level that they want to reach and that's what it takes for a good player to be great and a guy with talent to be a guy who can really help our team.
Q: Did you restructure your contract?
TB: Yeah, I think last Friday it was restructured.
Q: Why did you decide to that?
TB: Well, I think it just freed up some money in the salary cap. I think the salary cap is one thing that all these teams are trying to figure out how to manipulate it the best. But I think what we did was guarantee…those football contracts aren't guaranteed that I am sure all these players will talk about, but some money is guaranteed and they can amortize it over the length of the contract, so I think it freed up a couple of million bucks.
Q: Was it in any way a sense of saying to your teammates as a leader, 'hey, I did this for the team?'
TB: Well, I think you do whatever it takes to help the team get better players and help the team win. Ultimately, the only thing I care about is winning. I don't care who's playing, I don't care who's next to me, who's catching balls, who's running the ball, who is blocking, you just want to win. So whether it be in the offseason, the type of commitment it takes in the offseason to work, whether it be financial commitment whether it be mental commitment, everything that it takes to ultimately win those games. One thing about having that taste in your mouth from winning the Super Bowl everyone thinks that would… you say 'wow, well it's great, we won the Super Bowl,' when you realize how great it is and how much you want to want to get back there, when you make that, and not that mine was a sacrifice with the contract, different guys make different commitments and different guys make different sacrifices and I think the guys that I want to play with and the guys that want to play with me are going to be the ones that give up, the ultimate, selfless, key players.
New England Patriots Defensive Tackle Richard Seymour Press Conference March 27, 2003
Q: How do you feel about maybe playing defensive end as opposed to nose tackle?
RS: To me, I've been playing along the whole front anyway, so wherever I end up is fine with me. I'm just ready to get back out there and start making the plays again. Wherever I'm at, that's fine. If I'm at nose tackle, on the end or wherever I'm at, that's fine with me.
Q: You can't love being at nose tackle.
RS: It's different playing at nose tackle. Most of them are slower guys. The thing about nose is that if I'm just going against the center one-on-one, that's fine, but if you're constantly getting double teamed all the time with a guard or something like that, then it's like, 'Well, okay, I want to go at the end zone now.' Other than that, it's cool.
Q: Do you think you're a better defensive team now with [Rosevelt] Colvin and [Rodney] Harrison?
RS: Any time you can add two good, quality guys to a defense that was struggling last year … It's going to be good for us. Colvin can rush off the edge and he's a good pass rusher. Just watching Harrison, the intensity that he comes with, just having him in our secondary, that can only make this team better. I'm glad to get those two good additions to the defense.
Q: How do you keep making yourself better?
RS: I was blessed my first year winning the Super Bowl and then coming back in the next year and going to the Pro Bowl. But, I still haven't reached my potential where I should be playing at. Until I reach that level, there are always going to be constant battles and always getting stronger and getting better. I'm the type of guy who can learn from anybody. If Colvin comes in and I see him making a good move, I think I can go out there and try to make that same move. It's just about watching film on other key guys in the league. That's what I'm really spending my offseason time doing right now, kind of dissecting other defensive linemen in the league. If we're fortunate enough to draft a rookie defensive lineman this year and he comes in and he has a good move, then I'm not committed to say, 'Hey, I can't learn from this guy.' So, I think that if you have that open mindset and you can go in and say, 'I can learn from anybody,' and constantly get better day in and day out, that's how I think I can get to the level I can play at. Until I get there, I won't be satisfied.
Q: Were you surprised at how much the defense struggled last year?
RS: Yeah, I was surprised. But, at the same time I think you have to understand that being a year after the Super Bowl, everybody was trying to knock you off. You can say you're prepared for it, but until you kind of go through that and experience that, you're not prepared for it. But I think this year, we're going to come in with a different type of hunger, because it hurt to sit and watch all those guys play in the playoffs and go to the Super Bowl. Just to have that atmosphere around, you as a player want that for yourself. We won't be satisfied until we get back into that national spotlight.
Q: You weren't even able to work out last year at this point due to your shoulder, right?
RS: Yeah, that's another point. I really didn't start working out until training camp. Maybe a little bit before training camp, but I really didn't get back into the groove until training camp and a couple of preseason games. This year, with the full offseason and getting stronger and faster and doing all the things necessary to play 16 strong games, I think I'm definitely going to benefit from that.
Q: How about Jonathan Sullivan? He must be someone you've looked at since you played with him at Georgia. What do you remember about him?
RS: He's a talented guy. He's a guy that's an athlete. There's nothing else I can say about it. He's a guy that could definitely go alongside me and make plays. He's a playmaker, that's how I look at him. You could get a guy who could just come in and … He can do it all. He can stop the run, he can pass rush. He's an every down player in my mind. He isn't a guy that you have to pull out on third down. He's a guy like myself that you can just leave in the game and let him go.
Q: What about Boss Bailey?
RS: Man, Boss Bailey, he's an athlete. When I was there my junior year, when he jumped out of the gym, he's a toned athlete. But with the Baileys, that runs in the family. They have a younger brother, who I think is like six years old now, who's going to be the best one of them all. [Laughter].
New England Patriots Safety Rodney Harrison Press Conference March 27, 2003
Q: Are you getting used to your new teammates a little bit?
RH: Yeah. We played these guys the last couple of years, so you study the players and you pretty much know the guys from afar, but getting the chance to go in the locker room, spending some time working out with the guys, it feels good to really get a chance to know them and go out to dinner with some guys. It's a pretty good group of guys.
Q: How's the groin?
RH: Actually, the groin feels great. I got a chance to rest it the whole month of January, to take some time after the season to get some rest and treatment. I feel 100 percent as far as the groin.
Q: Is this pretty much the same offseason program you saw in San Diego?
RH: This is actually the second offseason program that I am participating in. Normally, I would stay back home in Chicago or Atlanta and I would train out there. So, it's different for me to be up here. In the offseason, I personally like to train at home and spend more time with the family. But, with the running and the conditioning, I pretty much like it. So, I will be participating most of the time up here.
Q: You said these programs are something you haven't really done, but Bill [Belichick] obviously wanted you to be here.
RH: Yeah, definitely, because you get a chance to familiarize yourself with the players as well as the coaches. You get the chance to get in the locker room. This is different for me. When I jumped off the plane, I'm used to 75 degrees in San Diego and the weather wasn't quite as great. But, just to get a chance to get to know the players so you can find out their personalities and kind of mold in because it's not really an easy transition. You just try to make it as comfortable as possible and the guys have been great to me.
Q: Have you talked with Lawyer [Milloy] yet?
RH: Yeah, I've talked to Lawyer. I actually hung out with Lawyer and ate some dinner with him. I'm excited to play with him.
Q: Did you talk about how it's going to shake out on the field?
RH: Well, I guess there's a bit of uncertainty there. When I was asked to come out here, I really didn't know the situation that was going to happen. I knew that Tebucky [Jones] was an unrestricted free agent and he had a tag on him. I just wanted to come to a situation where I can play and I can start full time whether it be free safety, strong safety or whatever it may be, linebacker, I just wanted to come in and play football. Coach Belichick assured me that he really wanted me here with my leadership. He liked my intensity and my preparation. He really made me feel comfortable that he wanted me. He really never harped on what happened last year as far as my injuries or anything like that. He just said that he likes the way I play and he made me feel comfortable.
Q: How did your injury affect your play last year?
RH: I got injured in the first game towards the end of the half and it really just destroyed my season. They told me I was going to be out for eight weeks and I came back after two-and-a-half weeks and I was never the same. I played at probably 65 percent. I'm a veteran and I should have known better, but I really wanted to go out there and fight with the team and just try to go out there and do the best job I could. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to play at the level I'm used to playing at.
Q: The headhunter label, how do you feel about that?
RH: I like it, personally, because this is a fierce game. This is a very intense game. It's a physical game. These guys are trying to catch touchdowns on you and they're trying to basically take food out of your mouth. I want to win. I want to make sure people know that I'm back there and that I can make a difference back there. As far as headhunting, in terms of trying to intentionally go out there and hurt someone, that's not me. But, in between the lines and before the whistle blows, you have to go out there and you have to lay it on somebody. That's just the nature of the game.
Q: How about the financial implications? You were hit pretty hard, huh? How much did you say were you fined?
RH: Probably over a couple of hundred thousand dollars.
Q: How do you feel about that?
RH: You know what? Let's be realistic. We make an absurd amount of money anyway. I've never really played for the money. I grew up and really never had anything in my life. I love football. I love to play football and I've been fortunate enough to make good money. Last year, everyone said, 'How could you take a hundred-thousand-dollar fine?' But that's just part of the game. They say, 'Are they intentionally trying to come after you?' Of course. Of course they're intentionally trying to come after me. I have a label. But you've got to go out there and you've got to play between the rules. Like I said, I'm not trying to hurt anyone. I'm just going out there … Part of the game is the intimidation factor. The same guys that are in the Hall of Fame, they used to play the same way I play. The Ronnie Lotts and the guys like that. Now they're trying to cut back on it and you're trying to play within the rules, but I'm not going to let it stop me. I'm going to keep playing.
Q: How hard is that stepping on the field knowing that they might be targeting you? You don't want to be known as a guy who's trying to hurt somebody.
RH: It's tough, because most of the times I see guys tackling and not just in defenseless positions – that's why we wear helmets; because you're going to have some helmet contact. But, what are you supposed to do? You see a guy coming across the middle and what are you supposed to do? You've got a chance to hit him and separate the ball: that might be the difference between you making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. But, if you hit the guy when he's in a defenseless position… Anytime they go up to catch the ball, they're defenseless, so what are you supposed to do? I guess you just have to hit them lower and then what happens? You start tearing guys' ACLs and MCLs. It's a tough situation and I think they need to do some more work on it and kind of fine-tune it, because the disparity of it is too great. I don't agree with it.
Q: What impressed you about Coach Belichick and what did he tell you?
RH: He was just honest. He looked me in my eye and I basically told him, I didn't want to fly out here if he wasn't truly committed in bringing me in, because I was about to sign with Oakland and possibly Denver. I had a chance to stay in the AFC West. He just looked me in my eye and he told me, 'You're going to be on the field. We really want you.' He liked my leadership and my intensity and what I bring. He knows that I can play football. He looked me in my eye and he told me. Basically, I just said that I needed a change. I just wanted to get away. I didn't feel like flying around the country anymore. I had a chance to play with some great football players like Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy and [Willie] McGinest, so I was excited about it. I knew that on the offensive side, they put up points. That really excited me, because in San Diego, we really struggled offensively. Last year we did pretty well, but we struggled in my career there, so it was exciting to be able to play with some guys that can put up some points.
Q: Has a coach ever talked to you like that?
RH: Well, a lot of times coaches really don't want to tell you the truth, but I just felt like he was sincere in what he was saying. I felt like in my 10th year, it's a veteran-friendly team. I definitely didn't want it to be a one-year deal. He set it up where he said it wasn't going to be a one-year deal and that he has a lot of veterans, like all of the guys that have been here for the past nine or ten years. That's what I wanted. I want to be in situation where I didn't come in and play just one year and then have to go shopping for another team. I wanted to play at least two, three, four more years depending on how my body feels.
Q: Playing against him the last few years, what is your perception of [Tom] Brady?
RH: He kicked our butt. He's a great passer. I think his coming out game was against us when they beat us [in 2001]. I knew they had I knew they had a high-powered… some really fast wide receivers. It was tough to prepare for them because they had so many different offensive sets. It's just tough. Antowain Smith, he runs the ball now and he's a tough guy. We knew that Charlie Weis, he's a very smart offensive guy and it was tough preparing for those guys. Like I said before, I knew that they can put up points and that excites me that you don't have to go out on the field like in the Ryan Leaf days and there's three plays of offense and you're down 14-0. I'm glad that's off my back. [Laughter].
Q: I know you're not a Charger anymore and you don't really concern yourself with their personnel moves, but what about the situation there with Junior Seau?
RH: That one puzzled me. I just thought that that guy would be a San Diego Charger for life. Granted, last year he got hurt and he didn't play the best year of his career, but the guy can really play at a high level. The impact that he had on young players and the impact that he had on my career was tremendous. Just his leadership, his ability to still go out there and play at a high level and the intensity that he brings, I was just really disappointed and hurt. When they let me go, I said okay, whatever. I know I can still play and go out there and contribute to a team. But, it really hurt me more when they let Junior go because he gave his heart and soul for that organization. Everything. The guy was hurt and he would take shots. He laid his heart out on the line and I really feel bad for him. I don't think it should have ended up like that.
Q: Have you talked to Fred McCrary at all about coming from San Diego to New England?
RH: Actually, when I walked in I knew that New England needed a fullback, so I told Scott Pioli that Fred was available. I said that Fred can play. LaDainian [Tomlinson] had two great years and there's the guy right in front of him that has to block for him. Fred McCrary is a great fullback. He really doesn't get the credit that he deserves. He's a very talented guy. He brings leadership and hard work and a work ethic to this program. I think they're going to like him here.