WIDE RECEIVER JULIAN EDELMAN
January 25, 2019
Q: Do you remember when you played against Sean McVay in college?
JE: Honestly, I don’t. But it was pretty cool to see some footage. It was cool.
Q: What do you make of such a young head coach in the NFL leading a team to the Super Bowl?
JE: It’s very remarkable. He’s a stud. He’s my age and he’s leading an organization to a Super Bowl. It’s unbelievable and it’s a testament to how much he knows the game, how hard he works. I love seeing it. He’s a MAC guy. You know that Coach McVay and that coaching staff is going to have that team ready and we’re going to have to take advantage of the preparation time that we have and get ready too.
Q: Have you seen the footage of you hyping up Tom Brady in your unique way?
JE: I’ve seen some footage, yeah. It was pretty funny.
Q: Do you kind of enjoy how we’re all nitpicking the ways you guys are motivating each other? Do you find it’s funny you can reverse the media criticism and use it as motivation?
JE: That’s a long, tough question. I don’t know how to read into that but you like black out during the game so what you say is what you say. It just comes to mind. So hopefully we’ll be able to do some more motivating this weekend, do some good stuff.
Q: A lot of people around the country are saying, “Enough of the Patriots in the Super Bowl.” What are your thoughts about that?
JE: I’m not really worried about that. I’m more worried about the Los Angeles Rams and their defense and their schematics and Coach Wade [Phillips] and [Aqib] Talib and [Nickell] Robey [Coleman] and [Marcus] Peters. That’s the stuff that you’re thinking about because you know they’re thinking about you.
Q: What’s Tom Brady meant to you as a friend over the years?
JE: He’s a great friend. I think that’s helped our relationship on the field just because there’s a friendship there. There’s a caring for one another. You could say that with a bunch of guys on this team as well. He’s a quarterback, I’m a receiver. There’s a lot of other guys that I have that same caring with and that’s because we’ve played a long time together and you learn guys in and out. We see each other more than we see our families. It’s cool to get to play with guys that you have friendships with.
Q: What does Jason McCourty bring to this team?
JE: He brings a veteran player that has seen a different perspective of things. That’s great for everyone to see – young guys, old guys, coaches, staff. He’s a guy that works his tail off and this is his first playoff run. He’s been in the league for 10 years – same here – so having that mind around and that mentality and that kind of a chip, it’s awesome. He motivates.
Q: How has your preparation changed for this Super Bowl compared to the first time you were in a Super Bowl?
JE: I think you get to focus more on football. Fortunately, I’ve played in a couple of these and you get to refine your routine and it allows you to think about football. It allows you to think about the Los Angeles Rams and what they’re doing and how they are on defense and special teams and [Johnny] Hekker being a quarterback back there as a punter, that’s what it allows you to do because you have a little experience with that. But that’s it.
Q: What’s your perspective with everything you’ve gone through to get back here? What’s it mean to you to be in the Super Bowl?
JE: It means the world. This is what you play the game for and it’s been a crazy year for me, two years. I have a kid, tear your ACL, you miss four games. It’s been a mentally, physically, emotionally exhausting year. You put all that effort into overcoming that for this game. It’s been a heck of a year to get to go out and play with your teammates and see how this thing’s evolved out. It’s always a great thing getting to play in the last game of the year.
Q: Many people refer to Tom Brady as the best of all time. What does it mean to you to have contributed to that by catching his passes?
JE: It means a lot. He’s a really good football player, the best. He goes out and he consistently proves it. He’s one of our leaders and he’s a leader for a reason.
Q: Jerry Rice made some comments about how he admired your attitude and how you play the game. What’s it like to receive those types of words from him?
JE: I’ve got to live up to it now, right? When Jerry Rice says stuff like that, that’s an honor and that’s an unbelievable thing. I’m from the Bay Area. I spent my childhood loving the Niners and especially a guy like him. That’s cool but honestly my focus is on the Los Angeles Rams. I’ve been through this whole thing and the whole media storm and you’re so programmed to, “Alright, next.” You see it and you giggle but you’re thinking about the Rams.
Q: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned going through those challenging two years and coming out on the other side?
JE: I’m still trying to learn. I’ll tell you in two weeks. In two weeks I can answer that question.
Q: In the big moments against the Chiefs, does it feel like it’s just practice with you and Tom Brady because you’ve run those plays together so many times?
JE: I wouldn’t say it feels like practice but the better you do it in practice, the more confident you go into the situation. Honestly, when you’re in those types of situations, you’re thinking about all the coaching points, the details of the route, the this, the that. You’re not thinking about practice. The better you do it, the more you do it, the better shot you have of doing it in the game so that’s what we’re going to continue to try to do, is go out and practice and put ourselves – at least myself – in the position to go in confident and try to execute in the game.
Q: What was the experience last year not being able to play in the Super Bowl last year with your torn ACL?
JE: It was tough. You’ve got mixed emotions. You’re happy your teammates are there. You’ve seen some of these younger guys come in as rookies and develop big roles and make big plays to get to the Super Bowl and you’re excited for them but then you also have a hurt feeling because you’re not playing. That’s kind of how you feel but that was last year and this year I’m thinking about the Los Angeles Rams.
Q: What does it say about the staying power of Tom Brady that he’s back in the Super Bowl 17 years after first being there against the Rams and the “Greatest Show on Turf?”
JE: His staying power?
Q: To be able to do it for so long in the league.
JE: It’s pretty remarkable. I don’t think anyone’s ever called us the “Greatest Show on Turf” though.
Q: Do you like it? Is that a good moniker for the Patriots?
JE: I mean, we don’t play on turf, do we? We do, not Astroturf though. I’m thinking about the Rams, sorry.
Q: Does being a dad make this experience more special?
JE: One hundred percent. When you become a pa, you have different priorities now and you’re not living for yourself, you’re living for someone else now. It’s pretty cool to go out and experience success and having your little human that’s just running around saying “Da-Da” that doesn’t know anything is going on. She’s like a little good luck charm. It’s unbelievable when you get to see her after a game. The feeling has changed. My whole family’s been a part of my road with how close we are and to welcome her in, it just makes it bigger and better.
DEFENSIVE BACK JASON McCOURTY
January 25, 2019
Q: A lot of people around the country are sick of seeing the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but this is your first time. What do you say to those people?
JM: I don’t care. That’s not a thought in my mind. I’m so excited for my own opportunity and this team’s opportunity to get a chance to head to Atlanta and compete in the game that everybody that plays in this league wants to compete in. The guys in that locker room, we know how hard we’ve worked to get to this point. You’re just excited for this opportunity. You’re blessed, you’re grateful for it. For me, it’s easy, but for all of us in that locker room you try not to take it for granted. You try to enjoy each and every moment of this process and remembering the journey throughout this season, what it took to get here.
Q: Do you guys feel disrespected outside of this locker room, or is that just a narrative created by the media?
JM: You’d have to, I guess specifically, ask that question to those guys that said it. I think whenever you’re doing something and you’re having some success at it, you’re attaining a certain level of success, there’s always going to be naysayers. That doesn’t go just for football. That’s anything you’re doing in life. You’re always going to have somebody that’s saying something about you in a negative form or fashion. I think for each and every individual you try to use that to push you, to motivate you whether it really meant something to you, whether it didn’t. It’s still something that you’ve heard, something that you’ve read and I think it may be a little bit of extra motivation. But at the end of the day, like I said last week, you’re in the AFC Championship Game. Now we’re in the Super Bowl. There’s not much more motivation you’re going to get from any outside influence at this point.
Q: What have you noticed about the relationship between Tom Brady and Julian Edelman?
JM: You’ve got two fiery guys. I think it’s fun to watch. You see two guys that are the ultimate competitor. How hard they both compete in practice, you see the bromance at times, you see the fiery looks they give each other sometimes if someone messes up. Just that look of not disappointment, of just like ‘get it together.’ I think it’s almost like brothers. They’ve probably played together for so long but as a defender it’s so fun to go against in practice because you’re not getting a better look than that. Tom at quarterback, Jules [Julian Edelman] in the slot or wherever he’s lined up. Two of this game’s really, really good combination that have been doing this for numerous years. For me as a football fan, as a corner, it’s a lot of fun to compete against those two guys.
Q: Have you noticed a different demeanor of guys on the team as it gets later in the season and now into another deep playoff run?
JM: I can’t say that. I think from the beginning to the end, guys come out there and we compete. That’s one thing I think we talk about all the time, how important practice is. Whether it was OTAs, training camp, practices throughout the regular season. Guys are always fired up and like I said when the playoffs first started, I think it ramps up a level just because of the stakes and what’s going on. If you don’t win the next game, you don’t get a chance to compete in another game after that. So I definitely think once the regular season ends, everybody’s a little more ramped up, a little bit more antsy, a little bit more ready to go because you know you need that level of sense of urgency and you’ve got to be ready to go because you’re literally playing in a game on Sunday for the opportunity to come into work on Monday.
Q: What are you most looking forward to this upcoming week?
JM: Everything. For me, this will be my fifth Super Bowl that I’m attending and this is the first time that I get to go inside. So for me, hearing so many stories about it from my brother, I usually go down Tuesday of when he went down and catch up with him on his off day. We’d go eat and just hang out whenever he had off time throughout the course of the week. Hearing so much about it, being a part of it, for me I’m extremely excited of everything that’s on the itinerary just because I’ve heard about it. I feel like from the outside looking in, I’ve been looking through the window, looking at it, and now I get an opportunity to be a part of this all. With this group of guys, for me, in Year 10 to get a chance to take on this challenge and still be playing at this point, I’m just excited and grateful for each and everything that’s coming.
Q: How can your brother, Devin McCourty, and his experience in these games help you to prepare this week?
JM: I think him, along with a lot of guys in this locker room, there’s a lot of different guys that have gone through this process. Obviously, when you get to Sunday, whatever team plays better is going to be the team that wins. Experience – none of that matters on game day. I think some of that experience kicks in when you’re talking about traveling, when you’re talking about, "Hey, what do I bring? Hey, what’s Media [Opening] Night like? What’s the process when we get down there? How do you handle family?” Different things of that nature. I think there’s numerous guys from Dev, to [Dont’a] Hightower, Jules, Tom, Gronk [Rob Gronkowski], guys that have been multiple times that I think those logistics are guys that you can go talk to and get a better understanding of how everything works.
Q: What have you noticed that’s different about the Patriots now that you’ve been here for a full season?
JM: I don’t think there’s anything specific. The one thing I do is I try not to compare any other year to another year or any organization I’ve been to with this organization or anything of that nature. I just think there’s a level of focus here. There’s a level of everybody having a common goal, working in the same direction towards that and that never gets intertwined or never gets off path. Everybody always knows what to expect, what’s expected of them and each and every day we come in here and everybody’s moving in the same direction.
Q: What have you learned from Stephon Gilmore after being around him this season and what can you say about the job he’s done?
JM: He does his talking on the field and it’s very, very loud. As you can see throughout the course of this season, as a defense, we’ve leaned on him a lot to do a lot. He’s shown up each and every Thursday, Monday or Sunday – whichever day – and has performed at peak levels. Like you said, he’s a soft-spoken guy but the more you talk to him, the more you get out of him. He’s one of those type of guys. He doesn’t even let guys catch the ball in walkthrough. That’s kind of his mindset and his demeanor. He goes out there, he takes the field and his one job is to shut whoever he’s guarding down and that’s something that he’s done on a week-in, week-out basis for us this season.
Q: What’s something you’ve learned about Rob Gronkowski that you didn’t know prior to being his teammate?
JM: Robby G [Rob Gronkowski]? I won’t say that I didn’t know it, but he’s just as fun to watch from the outside as he is to be in the locker room. I remember it was probably OTAs or training camp, him and Kenny Britt were in the locker room dancing to the point where there was sweat pouring off of them. I just think that’s his personality and that’s the energy he brings each and every day, no matter whether it’s after a win, after a loss, whatever’s going on. You’re going to get a big smile from him and he’s going to bring a ton of energy to the building. I think sometimes you need that. Sometimes things aren’t going to go your way. You’re going to be down as a team and you need those guys that pick everybody up and seems as though nothing phases them and they just come to work each and every day. He’s a guy, throughout the season, he’s battled back from injuries, whatever’s gone on, and he shows up each and every day and he’s ready to work.
Q: What do you remember about working with Greg Schiano at Rutgers?
JM: GS [Greg Schiano] was a really, really good leader, man. He’s a guy that taught me a lot, not only football wise but just things that you can take in life with you. Obviously, as a college kid, you go in, he’s your head coach, recruits you and I just remember him being a really good guy and a really good coach.
Q: Do you go into this game treating it like any other game despite knowing that you need to play your best football at this point in the season?
JM: Man, there’s been so many different tidbits said throughout this process and one thing Patrick Chung said to us kind of as a team and just us individuals was "It’s just a game and don’t let it become too big." I think we always hear about the playoffs, the Super Bowl, championship games and we always build them up. We don’t need help realizing the sense of urgency you need or how important the game is. We all know that. I think just trying to relax yourself and remind yourself that it’s a football game and it’s something that you’ve done, for myself, hundreds of times you’ve taken the field. Maybe this time there’s only one game on TV and if somebody’s watching football, it’s that game. But you try to just focus on whatever your job is for the game, whatever the game plan is. Once it gets going, after the first hit, whatever it takes, now you’re just playing football and you’re in the game, you’re on the sideline, you’re talking and now you’re just in the flow of things.
Q: Is that easier said than done?
JM: Without a doubt, without a doubt. You’ll have to talk to me after. I’ll let you know how I handled it.
Q: What do you see from Brandin Cooks on the field?
JM: Oh man, same things you’ve seen since he’s been in the league. I think he’s gone for 1,000 yards every time, every season he’s been here. That’s just impressive because he’s on his third team and no matter where he’s at, he’s a walking 1,000 yards. A guy that’s extremely explosive, can get down the field but can also run intermediate routes, catch-and-run plays, catching the ball, getting up the field, breaking tackles. He’s a guy that no matter what, on each and every play, you have to know where he’s at because he can score from anywhere on the field.
Q: How many tee-shirts are you packing for the Super Bowl?
JM: You’ve got to have a different tee-shirt for every day. The NFL kind of holds us back because every time we’re in front of you guys at the Super Bowl they make us wear their own licensed stuff, so I don’t get to use my own creativity to come up with some really cool tee-shirts, but however many days we’re down there I’ll probably have a tee-shirt each day.
Q: How many different tee-shirts do you have?
JM: A lot. But the thing is you buy some from Walmart, some from target, some from Kohl’s. You’ve got to be diverse. Keep it cheap. A lot of them, you’ll get one two for $10. You’ve got to find the deals, coupon codes online, so you find ways to amass a lot of them.
Q: You don’t have a guy that makes them for you?
JM: No. This one was actually made because it’s a little bit more specific. Sometimes my wife helps me out, but me and Dev, we bounce different ideas, different tee-shirts. I may see him with one. It’s hard now. Before I’d see him with a tee-shirt and I’d be like "I’m going to go get that." But we never crossed paths. Now, you really can’t be twins at 31 rocking the same tee-shirt. It makes it a little tough.
Q: Do they ever get mixed up in the wash?
JM: He doesn’t want his clothes with me. That takes place at his own house.
Q: What’s your most expensive tee-shirt? Do you have one that’s your pride and joy?
JM: No, no. This one was free. I just ordered some from Kohl’s. I think those were two for $22. You can’t spend a lot of money on a tee-shirt. Once you wash it a few times it just gets so dingy. But then it becomes vintage.
Q: Have you found yourself trying to get some of these veterans that have been to Super Bowls before more excited for the big trip since this is your first time making it?
JM: I was just telling Dev and Du [Duron Harmon], "How excited are ya’ll? We’re going to the Super Bowl. We leave on Sunday." And they’re like, "Calm down, man. Take it easy." That’s been my role this year. I bring a different perspective, a different type of energy, a different journey which brings a different outlook on things. I’m embracing it. I can probably be annoying at times but they love me.
Q: What do you think of the secondary’s performance thus far in the postseason?
JM: The one thing I feel like we’ve done a good job of is starting fast. Divisional round, conference championship, we’ve done a good job of starting fast, getting off the field, getting the ball to our offense and being able to get ahead. I think that’s been really beneficial. I think obviously the Chargers game, we weren’t happy with the way we finished. We played well throughout that game and gave up too much in the fourth quarter, and I’d say the same in the Chiefs game. We don’t feel as though we finished the way we want to. We gave up some plays. Some of it you definitely want to be able to adjust better and be able to make more plays, and then at the same time you understand it’s playoff time and you’re going against some really good opponents and they’re going to make adjustments. We’ve just got to make our plays when they come and at the end of the day, whenever you finish a game at this time of year and you have more points than the other team, you’re happy.