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Jeff Saturday Conference Call Transcript

Q: Everybody in New England remembers you standing side-by-side with Robert Kraft after the lockout and throwing an arm around him and consoling him during his time of grief. At that moment what compelled you to do that after being on opposite sides of the negotiating table? Was it more symbolic or a heartfelt gesture on your part?  

JS: No, it was definitely heartfelt. We had all been made aware of Myra's [Kraft] condition and we would talk about it from time to time and just ask him how everything was going. He would consistently just tell us that, 'She wants me here. She thinks this is important not only for our game, but for America,' and believed wholeheartedly in what we were doing and felt like we could get something accomplished without jeopardizing our game. I got my wife and kids at home and I can't imagine going through something as stressful as the lockout was on top of having an illness that you know is as serious as it was for his wife. I had a ton of respect for what he was doing and I had a ton of respect for when he was there, he was engaged. He did a lot to help get the thing solved, but on top of that would go home and spend time with his wife regularly, which meant a lot of commuting for him. It was definitely heartfelt and one of those things that I felt very honest and heartfelt about it and it came out to be something to other people, but to me it was more of a heartfelt gesture.       

Q: Did you hear from anybody else from around the league, owners, players, who commended you for that - for stepping up and saying what you said?   

JS: Yeah, absolutely. Our guys, I've had more players throughout this entire season - after games, before games, even right after it was done - my phone with text messages and emails and phone calls. At the end of the day, we all wanted to play football and we just wanted to get a fair deal in place. Those guys understood and everybody knew the situation that Mr. [Robert] Kraft was going through. I think it helped kind of solidify the deal just going forward, saying 'Hey man, we're all back and getting this league where it needs to go and be the greatest game in our country.'  

Q: It seemed to be a conciliatory gesture to in that both sides were on the same page trying to move forward. Were you moved in any way by that sentiment?  

JS: The hug didn't - that was more just for his wife and that issue. We knew as we got close to getting the thing done and as it began to close, we knew how important this was. I think from Jerry Richardson, who was the leader of the ownership group to Jerry Jones and Mr. [Robert] Kraft and all the guys, the Clark Hunts and John Maras who were there, all those men knew how significant that this deal was. A 10-year deal of labor peace, knowing that we both had to compromise but both felt like we could work with this deal and be beneficial for all of our players and most importantly, we're going to keep our players healthier for longer so that your stars can play longer. I felt really good about it; I know they did as well. As we left, I think we all realized that we had worked very hard to get something accomplished and we were proud of what we put forth. DeMaurice [Smith] and Roger [Goodell], they summed it up at the end, we had a meeting before we all went down to address the press and both of those guys, just seeing how hard they worked and how diligent they both were in getting this deal done - it was a lot of work but something you can be very proud of today.  

Q: It's crazy to think about the Patriots and Colts, who have been in so many tight games and such a longstanding rivalry that in the end it's you and the owner of the Patriots. Is that about as unexpected and strange a thing as you've been through?  

JS: I definitely would agree with that. Obviously, we've had some enormous battles and some games that meant a ton to our game. At the end of the day, when we're not on the field, we're all working to get our league better and I think that we all understood that. It's amazing how when you put your mind forward and from my standpoint, I'm representing the 2,000 active and the close to 10,000 retired or former players - that's a lot on your mind, that's a lot of weight that you're carrying. I knew the best thing for our guys was to get a good, fair deal in place and move forward from there.  

Q: Are you reserving another man-hug for Robert Kraft when you see him on Sunday?  

JS: I think our man-hugs are probably done. I think we'll go to handshakes from this point on.  

Q: You were talking about rivalries of the past, with the struggles your team has been having this season, is the tenor of this week any different going into this game?  

JS: Not for us. Our season has not gone how we wanted, obviously not winning a game. I'm sure from the Patriots standpoint the rivalry is not as big. In the past, we've been playing for home field advantage or a number of different things - championship games and all that. But for us, we need to get a win. It couldn't be better for us to get the first one against the Patriots, especially going up there on their home turf. I have a ton of respect for how those guys are playing right now. It's going to be a major challenge for us but we just have to go up there and play good football.  

Q: How have you guys gone on when you expect so much, you guys are always in the playoffs and then not only does Peyton Manning go down, but it has happened like it has? How have you guys gone on?  

JS: I think we've had a number of vets, myself included, who have encouraged the guys to understand that you're putting your résumé out every time you walk on that field. Any time that tape is rolling, you better be playing as good football as you possibly can - that's what a professional does. Pros stand up, even when it's the worst times and that's what we're in. We haven't won a game, we've done a lot to ourselves to earn ourselves, with making mistakes and we take full responsibility for that. Nobody in this league feels sorry for you. Nobody is going to help you get better. You have to go out there and put forth an effort to win a football game and that's what we're hoping we do.  

Q: Does this type of season make you appreciate Peyton Manning even more?  

JS: It definitely makes me appreciate winning more. Peyton, obviously, you can't respect a player more than I respect him anyway. I've been with the guy 13 years, I know how hard he works, I know what a good player he is, how valuable he is to our football team. On top of all that, to see a player face this type of injury, this isn't something you get over in a week or two - this has been a major process. Any time you're watching a player go through something as substantial as this your heart goes out for him. This is the way God created us, to play this game and he loves playing it and couldn't have more fun doing it. I feel for him in that regard as much as a teammate.  

Q: Do you feel like he'll be back or will he likely shut it down now?  

JS: I sure hope so. I've told people, people that ask me over and over, 'If he's healthy enough, he'll be on the field, I can guarantee that.' Records, put all that stuff aside. We all, every player in this game, we're made to play on Sundays. If he's healthy enough, I think he'll be out there ready to rock and roll. From my standpoint, is make sure you're healthy and whatever the doctor's recommendation is, take that and do with what you can. I don't think records, none of that stuff matters - that matters more to people outside that are making adjustments and media and that kind of thing. The reality is, we want to play any time we can and I know he's in that same boat.  

Q: I believe he was supposed to be examined today. Is there that hope that he might be back at some point this season?  

JS: I've hoped the whole time but I have no idea about his medical status; I don't know about those things. If he's healthy, I'd love him back whenever he can get back. Hopefully I'm here and ready to rock and roll with him.

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