Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Deion Branch addresses the New England media during his conference call on Wednesday, December 3, 2008.
Q: Is it going to be strange for you to play against your old team, the Patriots?
DB: I think it is going to be a little bit of both. It will be a little strange and a little exciting. Just to…man, it is crazy. I was looking at my playbook this morning and I saw the New England Patriots helmet. Knowing where I am at and knowing that we are going against the guys that I played with my first four years, won two Super Bowls with and have shared a lot of memories with... Most of all it will be a little strange but a little exciting to be out there playing against all my friends.
Q: Is it going to be strange not seeing Tom Brady running their offense?
DB: Yeah, that is probably the strangest thing that you can think of. Me personally being there, we always counted on Tom [Brady] to be there every week and he was. For him to be gone, it's still not a surprise that those guys are moving forward and doing what they are doing with Matt Cassel leading the team.
Q: I know the way your career ended with the Patriots probably wasn't ideal but when you reflect on your time with the Patriots do you think of the highlights or how it ended?
DB: I never think about how it ended. You never know what the next day holds for you in this business that we are in. It was very understanding and it was very business-like. Both sides respect each other. I respect coach [Bill] Belichick. I respect everything he did. I am pretty sure he respects me and what I did. I think each party had to do what was best. They had to do what was best for the organization. I had to do what was best for my family. There is no love lost at all. It was just a business move. It was understanding. You see a lot of ups and downs in this business.
Q: Your Seattle career injury wise hasn't gone the way you wanted it to. How has the experience been there?
DB: It has been a little crazy. To sum it up, it has been different for me. My first four years was all good. Everything was good for me except for the MCL injury I had. When I came here, my first year here was good even though I was kind of thrown into the mix with the trade situation. Last year, I suffered three injuries. It was kind of weird. They were weird injuries. I had a lisfranc, strained calf and then I tore my ACL in the playoffs. Coming into this season, I had another fluke injury with my heel. It has been a little strange but I have been fighting through it and staying positive. The team has been supporting me. All of my teammates have been supporting me and standing behind me. Other than that, I feel like I don't take anything for granted. I take the field each and every day to go out and play hard and try to help my team win. Whatever happens on the field, whether it is a slight injury here or there, that stuff is going to happen – it's football.
Q: You were here for some of the best times in Patriots history. Is it surprising for you to see the Patriots with a 7-5 record and fighting for a playoff spot even with the injuries they have had?
DB: Yeah, because I know those guys are working really hard. I know coach Belichick and his staff are doing everything they possibly can to put those guys in the best position to make plays on the football field. Like you said, outside of a couple of injuries, there have been a couple of things going bad over there, as well as a lot of bad things going on over here. We have been hit with the injury bug the most out of any team in the entire league.
Q: Have you been in contact with Tom Brady at all since his injury?
DB: Yes ma'am. I have talked to him. We have text [message] a whole lot. Even when he went down, I kind of felt bad because I was on the upend of my ACL recovery. Knowing what he is about to go through, it is nothing to him. He is a strong guy. He is going to prevail. He is going to be alright. It is just an injury. You have to be mentally strong to overcome this type of injury. A lot of guys come back from it but a lot of guys are not mentally back from the injury when they come back. Tom will be OK. I talk to him a lot; I text him a lot. We chat back and forth. Not only Tom, but I talk to a bunch of the guys on the team.
Q: Who are some of the other guys you talk to?
DB: Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork…I chitchat with Rodney [Harrison], Ben Watson, Kevin Faulk - a slew of guys. I think the biggest thing, there is no love lost with me and the guys that were on the team. We shared a lot of memories together. A lot of stuff didn't go the way we thought it would. We all understand that. We are all grown men. For the most part, with the nucleus of guys I speak to it's not something new to everybody on the team. We all still chitchat with each other. I will see those guys when they get here. We are supposed to catch up with each other and go out to eat.
Q: What will it be like to see coach Belichick and maybe some of the front office staff with how your tenure with the Patriots ended? Will it be awkward?
DB: I don't think it will be awkward. Like I said, both sides understand what happened. Who knows, somewhere down the line we may see each other again. Who knows. I will see those guys at the hotel when I go over to pick up the other guys. I am going to shake their hands and hug them. We will talk about a couple of things here and there but move on.
Q: So you have plans with some of your old teammates when they get to Seattle?
DB: I will see those guys once we get done practicing. I will go to the hotel and sit in with them. Hopefully, coach won't cut me off from going upstairs to the room. I don't think he will [laughter].
Q: You are going to sit in on the receiver meetings?
DB: Nah, I wouldn't do all that [laughter]. I wouldn't do all that.
Q: After watching film on the Patriots this week, do they look similar to when you were here?
DB: No, I think those guys did a great job... I see a couple of things but it is not the same. I can see certain things but it is not the same – offense or defense. The defense is doing something totally different from when I was there.
Q: When you communicate with the Patriots, do they sound frustrated with how their season is going?
DB: For the most part, when we chat, the beginning of the conversation starts off like 'ya'll lost a tough one.' We both say the same thing or 'ya'll won a good game' and they would tell me 'ya'll lost a tough one.' Other than that, I think we move past the football aspect after the first two or three minutes.
Q: What were your impressions of Matt Cassel when you were here?
DB: What you are seeing right now. Exactly what you are seeing now. That he was going to develop into the quarterback that he is now. Being that he had the opportunity to sit behind Tom [Brady] and to learn from Tom. He has been a sponge since the time I was there. He has taken everything that Tom Brady issued to him and told him what he should and shouldn't do. You are seeing everything I thought about him back then right now.
Q: Did you happen to catch Pittsburgh Steeler Ryan Clark's hit on Wes Welker last week?
DB: No I didn't but a couple of my friends told me about it. I heard it was kind of crazy. Was it legal?
Q: Some people think it was. I know you go across the middle a lot. How tough is it to come back after getting drilled like Wes did?
DB: I don't think we go into the game thinking about getting blasted. If it happens, for me in the past I have been hit a couple of times, it actually gets me going. It kind of gets under my skin a little bit to see once they hit you they get up and all that nonsense comes out of their mouth. That kind of adds a little bit more fuel to my fire. It gets me going. That is me personally and I am pretty sure it is the same thing with Wes [Welker]. He is a great competitor. I know he was a little bit jacked up.
Q: How tough has it been with the team's record at 2-10 and head coach Mike Holmgren not coming back next year? It seems like human nature might be to tune out with a year like this…
DB: It is difficult. I think the biggest thing though is that I am very proud of the guys in our locker room. No one has given up. Like you said, at these times one guy can just be a cancer and just mess up the rest of the season. We are still going into our meetings every day. No one has been late. No one is getting fined for doing anything stupid. We are still taking the initiative to take each game one game at a time and to go out and win. I think that is the best thing about it. We are practicing hard each and every day. No one has given up. That is the best thing about this team. It is a bright future. It can't get any worse than what is going on right now.
Q: Would it help to beat a team like the Patriots? Is that something you think of?
DB: It would help to just win any game [laughter]. Just to win any game. Hey, it would have been great for us to beat Dallas last week on Thanksgiving Day. Being that we lost that, our next game is against the Patriots. That is our next opponent and our next goal - to go out and get this win.