QB TOM BRADY
(On people comparing him to Joe Montana)
"I think that is something that is crazy. He was the best quarterback in the history of the NFL. I think a lot of times it is flattering, but at the same time, I think it is pretty unrealistic, too. Everybody wants to make comparisons. I think he is a very different player. I would love to have some of the traits that he possessed, but for the most part, there is a long way to go."
(on his impressions of Montana when he was growing up)
"He was always Joe Cool. That's what they called him. It seemed like he could always bring his team back, and he always showed great poise and leadership. He was just another one of the fellas out there, it seemed. You always hear that story about that Super Bowl drive against Cincy where turned over to Harris Barton and said 'Yeah, that's John Candy sitting in the stands.' That's seems to be the way a lot of his teammates described him. Over the years, I got a chance to meet Roger Craig and Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott, some of his close friends, and they have stories like that about him all the time. I think he was well respected and obviously he played his best in the biggest games. All those qualities and traits, that's what it means to be a great NFL quarterback."
(on how his experience at Michigan has helped him)
"Looking back, that was really the turning point in my football career. Every step of the way there seems to be competition and adversity and mental toughness that you need to learn. I think being at Michigan and choosing to go to Michigan, I think I chose to compete at a pretty high level. When I was there, Brian Griese was there, we had another guy, Scott Dreisbach, who was a great quarterback, and then when Drew (Henson)
came in, I was going into my fourth year. He was one of the most highly recruited guys in high school. He came in and he was a great athlete, and he could really play quarterback. It was a tough competition and there was competition everyday. I think competing on the practice field, I swear to God, it was almost tougher on the practice field than it was on the game field because you always put so much pressure on yourself. If you had a bad practice on Wednesday, you would lose sleep Wednesday night because maybe you threw an interception. I think that type of competition has really served me well as the years have gone on, just the ability to worry about yourself and focus on what you can do and what you can do to get better. I went into Coach (Lloyd)
Carr and I said 'Coach, they're not giving me a fair shake. I am the best quarterback you have' and he said 'You know what, why don't you quit worrying about everyone else, quit worrying about Drew, quit worrying about the weather, quit worrying about a bad call, and go out and do the best you can do. If a receiver runs a route at 10 yards and it should have been at 12, you can throw it to him and if it gets picked, it's still your fault. Don't blame him. You're the one that threw it.' I think those type of things, as (you)
progress, you start realizing, 'hey, I'm the leader of this ship. It is going to go the way I want it to go.' You start taking a lot of responsibility on yourself and then things turn out a lot better."
(on a chance for the Patriots to become a dynasty)
"I think with an owner in Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick and Scott Pioli, they seem to make a lot of great decisions and over the last three or four years, there have been tough decisions every step of the way. In no way has it been an easy road. I think they have shown the ability to field a team that has a lot of depth, filled with smart players, tough players, disciplined players, and because of that, I think we will continue to be competitive. There are a lot of things that need to happen to win a whole bunch of these games and to get back to Super Bowls. Because last year, I felt we had a better team than we had two years ago. We go 9-7 and don't make the playoffs. Being that it's a second Super Bowl in three years, and I think the most important game in everyone's career, this really sets the tone. Can you sustain that? Who knows? We have to win the game. Carolina is going to do everything they can to go out and try to knock the crap out of us. We still have five days before we play, and I think a lot of that is going to be well-spent."
(on the story of how he was invited to the State of the Union address)
"I still don't really know that story. I was out there on Saturday (day before the AFC Championship Game)
and Mr. Kraft had come up to me and he said 'What are you doing on Tuesday?' I said, 'hopefully getting ready to play Carolina.' He said 'if you are not doing anything and assuming we win the game, the President wants you down at the State of the Union.' So I said 'what are you talking about? Which President?' He said, 'Our President, George Bush.' And after that, I said 'Sure, I'll go.' I went home and went back the next day after the game and he came up to me and he said 'Are you still planning on going Tuesday night?' I said 'I wouldn't miss it for the world.' That's how it came about."
(on advice he would give candidates in the New Hampshire primary given his knowledge of the people of New England)
"It is a fierce, feisty group, and they are very loyal, and very supportive. You just have to make the right decisions, and they will be on your side. It is going to be a great primary from everything you read."
(on if he has decided who to support in the presidential election)
"I haven't, I have not decided." (on if he will vote in the election)
"Yes." (on if he is registered to vote)
"Yes, I am. I actually just got that taken care of."
(on what his family of Democrats thinks of him showing up at the State of the Union)
"Are they democratic? (reporter says his uncle says they are Democratic)
"Really? I think it is kind of a mixed bag in my family. We have Democrats and Republicans."
(on if he was not invited to the State of the Union if he didn't win the AFC Championship Game)
"No, I think I was. I think Mr. Kraft was (using)
a ploy to get me to win that one. He kind of put it that way. He told me afterwards whether it was win or lose, I was going."
(on possibly of not being the best athlete in his own family)
"I am not the best athlete in my own family. I have three sisters who were all great, all competitive, all played college athletics at a high level. They are tough, all three of them."
(on the competition in his family)
"It was tough. Growing up, we used to have a rule where you get the remote control if you were the first one in the room. I would always finagle my way to eat my breakfast midway between the kitchen and the living room. We had our battles, except my sisters, I would always try to beat them up if I didn't get to watch what I wanted to watch. They wanted to watch soap operas, I always wanted ESPN."
(on being here as the 199th pick in the draft, while the two co-MVPs in the league – Peyton Manning and Steve McNair are at home)
"I think it says that I am part of one of the top two teams in the NFL. I happen to be the quarterback. Those guys, Steve McNair and Peyton, they had magnificent years. For one reason or another, the team didn't get it done. I am fortunate to play on a team where we have one of the top defenses in the league, best coaches in the league and an offense that probably has been opportunistic as it has been described. I think it comes down to a lot of factors; being here. I think we have found ways to win these games and get here."
(on if he was any more nervous two years ago and if he thinks Jake Delhomme will be nervous as a first-time starter)
"I am not sure how he feels. This year for me, I think I am a little more able to handle all of the responsibilities of the week and the obligations and the tickets and friends coming down and family coming down. Just to be able to put some of those distractions aside is probably the most important thing. Once you get to the game, once we get here on Sunday night, it is going to be a game, and it is going to be played between there (pointing to the field)
and whoever plays best is going to win."
(on if there is any quality about his team to continue the winning streak)
"Each week, it seems to be something different. We are finding ways to win, whether it be defensively, like a goal-line stand against Indy. Whether it be offensively, like Denver, coming back late in the game to score, special teams blocking those kicks against Miami. I think consistently we have done enough to win those games. We have made enough big plays to get those games in our favor. Because you do those things, because you do play well, you need a lot of bounces, too. You need a lot of luck. You need breaks. We have been on the right side of a lot of these close calls."
(on if there is pressure as the streak got longer and longer)
"To tell you the truth, I don't think that has ever played into anything. I think this is probably the first week that we realize there probably is a streak. I remember sitting at 2-2 and I was in the training room before the Tennessee Titan game, and we had all these guys hurt, we really didn't know what our team was all about. And I'm sitting there saying, 'If we could just get to the bye week at 5-4, that would set up great down the playoff stretch.' So then we beat Tennessee and it was like okay, we are playing the Giants at home. If we just win this game, then we go to Miami. We'd be 4-2 to go to Miami. So we beat the Giants. 'Wow, if we could just get to 5-2, beat Miami on the road. We haven't done it in forever, that would set up if we won that game.' And then it was the same way, going to Denver. 'We have to beat Denver to go 7-2 and finally we are to that bye and we win it.' After that, the roll continued. It was just one week of very short-sighted goals, and just deciding this is a team that we need to beat this week. This is how we need to prepare to beat this team this week. And I think they just added up. And then you get to the playoffs and then, at that point, everyone needs a streak to win it all. Those games, they just carried over."
(on if there is concern that the streak would end this week in the Super Bowl)
"I sure as hell hope this is not the week. To win 14 straight is great, but if we don't win that 15th, then it is all for naught because this is why guys play football. This is the reason, this is the week, this is the game. It defines your playing career, it defines your legacy. The coaches know that, the players know that. To be able to be in this game this week and to prepare and to play, this is the reason, this is the NFL, this is for it all."
(on what stands out about Carolina's front four)
"Their size, their strength, their speed. They have the second-most sacks in the league this year, and they are relentless. They are as tough as any D-line we have faced. Kris Jenkins is one of the best defensive tackles in the league. (Mike)
Rucker and (Julius)
Peppers are two of the best ends. It is an impressive group. They're fierce, they're tough. They fight all day and it's going to be a challenge for our offensive line. I don't think they compare to too many defensive lines we have faced. I think they have all the attributes of a great line."