OFFENSIVE LINEMAN SHAQ MASON
January 23, 2019
Q: How much did you celebrate the win and when did you flip the switch after beating Kansas City?
SM: Celebrated in the locker room, ride home, and then we knew it was onto L.A.
Q: What’s it like for you to be going back to Georgia?
SM: It’s definitely fun – old stomping grounds, four years of my life were there. Definitely glad to see some old friends, coaches and be back – definitely glad we’re practicing there. That will be fun.
Q: Will it be a weird feeling practicing at your old school?
SM: It wouldn’t be, I wouldn’t say, a weird feeling, but I mean, it will be fun. They’ve got a new locker room, so I’m happy to see that. It will be pretty cool, and I mean, I’d love to have David [Andrews] and Sony [Michel] practicing on the Georgia Tech turf. That’s definitely a plus.
Q: Do you feel the offensive line has kicked its play up a notch during the postseason?
SM: Honestly, I feel like we just took it day by day, game by game, and just tried to build on whatever we put out there the previous week. I think we’ve done a good job of building on what we already had.
Q: What has the Super Bowl ticket process been like the last couple of days?
SM: A lot of requests and definitely had to be the bad guy a lot. But, I mean, it comes with it, definitely with the Super Bowl being that close to home. So, it’s been hectic, but I’m glad all that’s out of the way and now you can shift the focus now.
Q: How many tickets do you guys get and how many requests did you get?
SM: I think it’s 15 and I think I had like 40 requests. So, it was just my family and a couple of my roommates from college and that was it.
Q: What will it be like going against the Rams defensive line with players like Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald?
SM: Definitely going to be a task for us. They have a great front, and those two guys in the interior – you know, their names ring bells and they’re definitely worthy of it. We’re looking forward to competing with those guys.
Q: When we see you guys as an offensive line play so well in big games, how much of an effect does Dante Scarnecchia have on you guys? How much credit does he deserve?
SM: A lot of credit. I mean, day-in and day-out, he’s on us, he’s pushing us. He gets the best out of us, and we all love playing for him, want to play for him. Going out there, it’s more of we’re all playing for each other, but we’re also playing for Dante because we know how much he puts into us. We like giving it back to him.
Q: What has Sony Michel’s impact been on this team this year?
SM: Great impact. I mean, we’re lucky to have him. It’s a pleasure to block for him. He came in right away, worked hard, kept his head down, humble guy, so it’s definitely worked out.
Q: Tom Brady is famous for introducing himself to his teammates rather than having them introduce themselves to him. Do you remember the first time you met Tom and how did that play out?
SM: The first time I met him, I want to say it was right after the draft, OTAs. He came up and introduced himself and I don’t really recall too much from that. I mean, it was four years ago.
Q: Did you think it was odd that Tom Brady was introducing himself to Shaq Mason?
SM: Definitely odd. I mean, who am I coming in here? So, that was definitely weird but it was pretty cool at that time.
Q: How comfortable are you with the routine of a Super Bowl, having been a veteran now, and does that lend you guys an advantage?
SM: I’m very comfortable with it, but advantage? I wouldn’t say it’s an advantage at all. I mean, it’s one game and everybody’s going to be up for the game. So, it’s whoever puts their best display out there that day.
Q: Other than the obvious physical talents of guys like Suh and the rest of that defensive front, what are some of the things that stand out about them?
SM: The way they approach the game. I mean, you can tell that those guys definitely want to set the tone early and often and they waste no time being physical. They read keys well. You can tell that those guys definitely study their opponents.
Q: How enjoyable is it to come to work right now as one of the two teams left still preparing?
SM: Very enjoyable. It was four teams last week and now it’s two, so we’re thankful and blessed to be one of those two in the big game. I mean, it’s a blessing.
Q: Tom Brady hasn’t been touched the last two weeks. What is the biggest key for keeping him protected?
SM: I think just going about our business the right way, honing in on the small details and just taking it one play at a time.
Q: He posted the picture on Instagram of his clean jersey with no grass stains. How much pride do you take in keeping him upright?
SM: We take a lot of pride in it. That’s our guy. When he doesn’t get touched or doesn’t get sacked, it goes a long way with us, the receivers, the running backs, as well. But that definitely goes a long way.
Q: Do you have a favorite Dante Scarnecchia story?
SM: My favorite Scar story is probably before I even got drafted here when I was in school. He came to my pro day and worked me out. He had me snapping and I was snapping to him and things like that. Then we went in the meeting room and he kind of grilled me about the stuff that we were doing, because triple-option and this is two different things. So he kind of was drawing up stuff that they do here, and I was kind of confused and I could see him getting irritated. It was kind of like I was like, ‘Uh, I don’t know if the Patriots are going to be the spot.’ But, that’s one of my favorite Scar stories, though.
LINEBACKER KYLE VAN NOY
January 23, 2019
Q: Can you talk about how you guys were able to navigate the ups and the downs this season?
KVN: Well, each week’s different and you have a clean slate each week and you’ve just got to focus on that week. I think our team’s done a really good job of putting the last week behind us and moving onto and focusing on that week that’s ahead. You learn from those mistakes whether they’re good or bad and you try to fix those and keep trying to get better and better, and this team’s done a really good job of it.
Q: How much do you enjoy proving people wrong?
KVN: You know, that’s fun, but I want to prove people right. There’s a lot of people – our families, teammates – that believe in each other. We want to prove those people right. That’s at least what I want to do.
Q: Speaking of families, a lot of people need tickets and hotel rooms. Has this been a hassle for you or have you had special requests from people you haven’t seen in 20 years?
KVN: Yeah, you’ve just got to say, “Hell no.”
Q: Have you had trouble filling all the requests or how do you pick?
KVN: It’s pretty simple. The best word to use is “no” and I think most people understand the situation. And I get to play favorites – no, I’m kidding. But honestly, I’m just excited to have my family attend and I’m sure other players are focused on their families attending.
Q: How does this week work? Do you take care of all that the first couple of days and then today are you onto meetings and focused on the game?
KVN: Yeah, we’re focused on the game now. All that stuff’s over and done with.
Q: How long do you guys enjoy the Kansas City win? When did you flip the switch?
KVN: As soon as you get here on Monday, back to Monday, that’s when I flipped it. I think a lot of us are hungry to get back in this game and get to it. We’re ready, we’re excited and it was a good team win, but we’re focused on this next one already.
Q: How much do you enjoy this process and that you’re going to play on the world’s biggest stage in a couple of weeks?
KVN: That’s the biggest thing. You just want to enjoy it, like you’re saying. It’s just like how do you enjoy work? That would be my question to you.
Q: I wake up every day, I love my job and have a good time.
KVN: There you go. I love my job and I love playing in games like this, and the group of guys we have, we love playing in this game. But we want to win this game.
Q: On the radio earlier today, you said you were humbled after the Super Bowl loss last year. Why were you humbled after that game?
KVN: Well, obviously, we lost. I don’t know, I don’t know if this is the best time to answer that, but it was just a humbling experience. I don’t know – I don’t know how to explain that one yet.
Q: But in the Super Bowl, you’re facing the best team. So, if you lost to someone you think is the best, why is that humbling?
KVN: Well, I mean specifically myself, I feel like defensively we didn’t play well, so it’s just humbling to go through that opportunity like that and yeah, it was humbling.
Q: A lot of people talked about the first time they met Tom Brady and how he would come up and introduce himself –
KVN: Yeah, he did that to me. I was like, “You’re an idiot.” It was actually funny. I was super tired that day because I flew in super late from Detroit coming in, so I think I got in at 1 [a.m.] that night and I got in about 5:30 in the morning. Time had went on, I had some meetings but then it was right before the team meeting and I had to run to go to the restroom because I was in meeting for so long. I’m washing my hands or whatever and I get done and Tom comes up and kind of shakes my hand like, “Hi, I’m Tom Brady.” And I’m like, “You’re an idiot. Of course –” and kind of told him, “My name is Kyle Van Noy.” But those little things are why he’s where he’s at. Those little things that people don’t pay attention to, those detailed things, that just separates him. He’s really good at what he does, he’s very detailed and that’s what makes him Tom.
Q: How special is it this year to play with this group of guys compared to last year?
KVN: I don’t ever want to take away from every year I’ve been in the NFL. I think it’s always special any time you go out on the field and guys are putting their lives and livelihood on the line for you. I think that’s special. I don’t want to get into the special this and that, but it’s just a good group of men, we all like each other, we all have a good time. You guys probably see it every day. We’re always messing with each other, making fun of each other, so it’s just a good group to be around and play for and play hard with.
Q: When you have that extra preparation or are facing an opponent for the second time, how valuable is it?
KVN: That’s a good question. I think any time you have a chance to really dive in and figure out who you’re playing and get all the details, it’s always a bonus. I feel like we do a pretty good job – the coaches do a great job of getting us ready to go and we’re excited for what they have for us to do. We just want to execute it the best possible way.
RUNNING BACK JAMES WHITE
January 23, 2019
Q: How long did you enjoy the win in Kansas City and when did you personally flip the switch to focusing on the Rams?
JW: We enjoyed it that night and then you’ve got to flip the switch pretty quickly. We play all year long to get to this game right here, so you want to put your all into it, study up on the Rams, get to know them as best as possible so we can all play our best performance yet.
Q: Do you have a favorite Super Bowl memory?
JW: I mean, I’m not really focused on the previous years. I’m just enjoying the moment right now, enjoying this opportunity, enjoying being around my teammates. We’re all fortunate to be in this game right here. Like I said, we work all year long from OTAs to training camp just to get here. So, we’re just going to soak it all in and prepare as hard as possible with them.
Q: Can you speak of the offensive line and the job they’ve done in the playoffs?
JW: Yeah, they’re awesome. They take the challenge each and every week facing good run stoppers and good pass rushers and they work well together and they’ve been giving us a boost all year long.
Q: What have the last couple of days been like for you dealing with ticket requests and family needs for next week? What is that process like?
JW: That process is over with. We get that over within a day and then it comes down to just studying up on your opponent. You can’t have that lingering on as you get to the site and everything. That’s in the past. We’re just focused on the game right now.
Q: Any weird requests? Do you have to say "no" to family and friends with some of the requests?
JW: I mean, as I said, you know who you want to go and whatever and just figure it out with my wife and then that’s that. Nothing really crazy.
Q: After watching it on film, what stood out to you about your offense converting three third-and-10s in that game and how critical were those plays?
JW: Like I said, any time you play in the postseason it’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have to make some tough catches, got to make some not-so-high-percentage downs. Guys made some tough plays. Tom [Brady] made some great throws and that’s the stuff we’re going to need going forward.
Q: Is there a point over the last four games where you guys decided there’s no more excuse making and that you have to execute and leave it all out there on every play?
JW: Yeah, like I said, you’ve got to pay attention on every single play, know the finer details. You never know which play is going to make the difference. So just study up on the opponent, know the game plan inside and out and just go out there and play fast.
Q: How important is the rest during this week both mentally and physically?
JW: Yeah, rest is important. Take care of your bodies. You get a little extra time so take care of your body, study up on your opponent, just do as much as possible. Like we said last week, it’s still just a football game at the end of the day so prepare the same way that you’ve been preparing and just play just as hard.
Q: What about on the mental side of things – is that one of the more difficult challenges for you guys to get ready for?
JW: Not necessarily. Just prepare the same way for each and every game – home, away – wherever it is. Nothing’s really different.
Q: How important is it to be patient as a runner when waiting for your lanes and blocks to be made by your linemen?
JW: Yeah, as I said, they do a great job of pulling around for us. It’s not an easy job for them. Just follow right behind them, let them get up on their blocks and make your read because you don’t want to make a cut too early and allow their guy to fall off and make the play and you don’t get as many yards as possible out of it.
Q: Can you talk about James Develin, how important he is and what he’s brought to your backfield?
JW: He’s awesome. He’s an awesome teammate. Fullback is one of the most unselfish jobs on the team, just like the offensive line, so he may not get receptions and carries all of the time even though he does have a few touchdowns this year and everything. He blocks extremely hard for us. He can catch passes, made a few catches for us in big time games so he’s a very intricate piece to our offense.
Q: Do you have any memory of the first time you met Tom Brady?
JW: Nothing too crazy. He introduces himself to everybody in the locker room as soon as you step into the building. He’s very personable, a great teammate and a great competitor. You just want to emulate a guy like that. He gets to know all of his teammates regardless of practice squad, injured reserve, everybody.
Q: Is he just one of the guys despite being one of the more famous athletes today?
JW: Everybody in the locker room is one of the guys. I think we have a great group of guys in the locker room, men of faith, play for one another. It’s pretty much like a family in there.
Q: What’s allowed you guys to have success running the ball when it’s you alone out there in the backfield and James Develin is on the sidelines in a three-wide receiver set?
JW: It’s just great execution, great play calls, offensive line doing a great job blocking, receivers doing a great job blocking, Gronk [Rob Gronkowski] or whoever’s out there blocking – him or Dwayne [Allen]. It just comes down to paying attention to the finer details, being physical and trying to out-tough your opponent.
Q: You guys have played your best football after back to back losses to Miami and Pittsburgh. Is that just coincidence or did those losses sort of wake the team up?
JW: Nothing magically happened. I think everybody’s just paying attention to the finer details. You never know which play is going to make that difference. From here on out you just want to go out there and just play your best football?
Q: When does it sink in that you’re in another Super Bowl?
JW: I don’t know exactly. Like I said, I’m excited to have this opportunity. Once you get there or maybe on game day you realize it, but just treat it like any other game and have no regrets, study as hard as possible and play as hard as possible.
Q: How much can the experience factor of having actually gone through the week down there really help a particular player?
JW: It can help you a little bit. You just can’t let all of the distractions – you’ve got to kind of tune those out and know the reason why you’re there is to win a football game so you can enjoy your time with your family and everything, but at the same time, know what’s most important.
Q: Do you think ‘Patriots Nation’ will show up in Atlanta?
JW: I’m sure they’ll be out there. Regardless, whether we get one fan or 60,000 fans, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about how we go out there and play.
Q: What do you tell a young guy like Sony Michel heading into the Super Bowl?
JW: Same thing we’ve been telling him all year long. Just study hard, practice hard, take care of your body. It’s the game you dream about as a kid so you want to go out there and have your best performance. Just do whatever you can so you’re prepared.
Q: Can you talk about how Sony Michel has fit in? He seems like such a selfless guy to begin with.
JW: He’s really quiet, works hard, takes the coaching. We have a great group of running backs. We work well with one another. All of us catch, run, block so we compete with one another and everybody makes each other better. He’s been a big boost for us. He’s got like five touchdowns in the playoffs. Hopefully, he can keep that going.
Q: Did he fit in right away?
JW: Yeah, we’re from Florida so, you know, Florida guys – we click automatically. He’s a quiet guy, humble guy and happy to have him on our team.
PLAYERS IN THE LOCKER ROOM
David Andrews, Center
(On the excitement his family feels having the Super Bowl in Georgia)
“Yeah, it’s exciting, but they’d be excited if it was in Alaska. It’s just a great opportunity. You never know how many opportunities like this you’re going to get.”
(On his favorite Super Bowl moment or experience)
“Winning. That’s all that really matters, that’s really all you remember. It’s kind of like your wedding day. Everyone freaks out about all these little details and all this stuff, but no one really remembers all that at the end of the day. You just remember the results of the wedding. I guess that’s kind of like the Super Bowl. It’s a huge event, but all that really matters, all you going to remember is if you won or lost.”
(On Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald)
They do a very good job. They do a lot of things different. Suh at the base playing some nose guard and in the substituted defenses, he’ll go out there and play defensive end. So they do a lot of good things with those guys. Obviously they’re both dynamic players. Aaron Donald is the best defensive football player in the league, there’s no doubt about that. So it’s going to be a big challenge. We’re going to have to do a lot of things well.”
Trent Brown, Tackle
(On the experience of playing for New England this year)
“It’s like I said during my first interview here, ‘God makes no mistakes.’ I’ve just been trying to find my way and get in line with everything here and it’s worked out.”
(On the possibility of going to the Super Bowl when he was traded here)
“Well, I knew there was no better place to have that opportunity, so I was pretty happy about being traded here.”
(On summing up Tom Brady’s)
“There’s one word, goat. That’s it. He’s a great teammate, a great person. He’s the same guy every day, he doesn’t change. He’s one of those great leaders and it trickles down to the rest of the team.”
(On Coach Dante Scarnecchia’s style)
“He’s hard on us, he coaches us hard. He loves us as well and I think everybody respects him. He’s been doing this for a long time and I love him, for sure.”
(On handling Super Bowl ticket request)
Reaching out from randoms – that’s always going to happen, but in my mind, I’ve always known who is in my tight knit circle, so I don’t have to think about who’s getting tickets, so I’ve known the whole time.”
Rex Burkhead, Running Back
(On what the execution level has been for the offense over the last four games)
"Yeah, the offensive line, they’ve done a tremendous job of setting the tone from the beginning, being physical in the run game as well as James Develin and the tight ends, even the receivers blocking downfield. When you can do that from the start, it opens up things later on."
(On what it’s like seeing James Develin deliver a crushing block to the first guy that enters the hole on a rush)
"It’s pretty sweet. Yeah, usually when you follow him, good things happen. I try to do that as much as I can."
(On following Develin’s block on the game-winning touchdown last Sunday)
"Yeah, he just blew the guy up. He’s a physical guy, hard worker, a freak in the weight room. Yeah, he’s a good guy to get behind and try to make some yards."
(On trying to rectify the loss in last year’s Super Bowl and getting that bad taste out of his mouth)
"Yeah, like you said, it was a bad taste for sure. Even though we just won the AFC Championship, that’s not our ultimate goal. Our ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl. We need a great two weeks of preparation. It’s a great opponent we’re facing. [Ndamukong] Suh, [Aaron] Donald, [Marcus] Peters, [Aqib] Talib – all of those guys on defense. We’re going to have to do great things throughout the week and have some good practices."
Phillip Dorsett, Wide Receiver
(On handling Super Bowl ticket requests)
“I’m good. I’m good. I don’t have to worry about that now. It’s all done and now I can just focus on football.”
(On the Super Bowl experience)
“I’ve been telling a lot of people, if you haven’t been there, it’s going to be the best week of your life. It’s the Super Bowl. It’s the ultimate team game. If you’re a football player, you dream of being in the Super Bowl. I don’t take it for granted. It’s going to be a great week but you can’t let your focus shift to things that don’t matter. The only thing that really matters is the game and that’s all you can really worry about.”
(On how soon he began preparing for the Rams after the AFC Championship)
“I tried to enjoy it at first, you’ve got to enjoy it because there’s only two teams left. There’s only two teams left standing so you’ve got to enjoy it, but I’ve been looking [at the Rams]. I’ve been looking all season. I’m a fan of the game. I like the way they play football. I mean the Rams have been a really good team the whole season, obviously offensively, defensively and on special teams. I tried to watch as much of the NFC Championship game as I could. I had it on my phone watching it while I was on the bus [headed to Arrowhead Stadium].”
Chris Hogan, Wide Receiver
(On the mood and atmosphere here in Foxboro)
“Excited. This is what we worked for. This is the goal at the beginning of the season, to get to this moment, this game. So we’ve just got a lot of work to do. We’ve got to prepare like we’ve never prepared before and put everything we have into this game.”
(On execution vs. experience)
“I think that’s what it really comes down to. I really don’t think experience plays much into it. At the end of the day when that first whistle blows, it really comes down to execution. You have to go out there and play your best 60 minutes of football that you can because at the end of the day, this is the last game. It’s win or go home. So you’ve got to put everything you have into it this week, prepare as much as possible as you can, block out all the outside noise and all the other distractions and just focus. At the end of the day, we have a job to do, and that’s go play a good 60 minutes of football.”
(On Rams cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters)
“They’re great, they’re disruptive on the back end and they make a lot of plays on the ball. I’d say their whole secondary is very good. Ball security is going to be a huge thing for us. Being on time in passing game, running good routes and just being good with the ball in our hands. They do a good job of taking the ball away.”
(On the one-handed catch vs. Kansas City and if he knew he had it all along)
“Yep, I thought I had it, I knew I had it, but I’m moving on. Now I’m focused on preparing as much as I can for the Rams.”