Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, December 24, 2010.
TB: Hi guys. Sorry to bring you guys in here on a Christmas Eve.
Q: (On how he's feeling)
TB: Doing good. Doing good. Ready for this game. Ready for Santa Claus and then ready to play some football.
Q: How would you describe what you got hit with illness-wise?
TB: Probably what a lot of guys are getting hit with lately. It's just going around town. But I'm feeling good. Good day of practice yesterday. Have to go out and have a good day today, get sharpened up and get ready to go play for a division title.
Q: How much does it affect your ability to prepare?
TB: None. None.
Q: It wasn't like that AFC Championship game a couple years back when you were on your death bed?
TB: No. I wasn't quite on my death bed that day either. No it wasn't anything like that. Just the normal flu.
Q: When you aren't at practice, are you getting treatment, watching film?
TB: Everything. All that stuff: treatment, film, still getting prepared, finding different things to do other than run around. You still use the time to prepare, certainly [to] get caught up on some other things that maybe you don't get a chance to do when you're out there practicing. It's maybe a little more rehab, stuff like that.
Q: Is the turnover streak a self-fulfilling prophecy almost because everyone is so focused on not being the person to break the streak?
TB: We always talk about not turning the ball over. I think we've been very fortunate - I certainly have been a couple of times - over the last few weeks. The guys who are a carrying the ball in these conditions in the winter time, when it's snowy... In Chicago, that was pretty cool not to turn it over on a day like that. As the weather gets cooler the ball gets a little harder to handle. The teams that really play well in this type of weather don't turn it over. So it's definitely a point of emphasis this week as well. I'm sure, Buffalo-type weather, we've had some interesting games up there. I'm sure it will be another one with the weather conditions.
Q: Remember the wind blowing kicks sideways?
TB: Yeah. I know. It was like 70-mile-per-hour winds. It was crazy. Hopefully we don't get that this Sunday, but anything less than that we can probably deal with.
Q: This Bills team started 0-8 but they've won 4 of 6. How much of an improved team are they?
TB: This team fights their butt off. They are a challenging team to face. They have very talented players. They're playing certainly very well this time of year. There are probably some teams that have thrown in the towel at this point because they're not really in it, but you would never say that about the Bills, the way these guys play. They have a veteran group. They have some young players who are really playing well. They're playing with a lot of confidence. We have to go out there and really play a great game.
Q: Tom, in the spirit of Christmas around here, can you look back on this season at all? You're a game away from clinching the division and home field advantage through the playoffs. It couldn't have been what you expected this year. Have you maybe been more fortunate or has it been more fun than you thought?
TB: It's always fun playing professional football for a living. I mean, we couldn't get a better job than this. We've all worked pretty hard to get to this point. All the teams have worked pretty hard to get to this point. It does take a lot of good fortune to be able to control your own destiny like we do. We've said nothing has really been accomplished yet, though. I will say that. I think we're in a very good position in terms of us being able to win this game and win our division and few other things come along with it, but we got back here in March after a tough season last year and a tough offseason and I think we set the goals understanding that 'these are the things we need to do to accomplish them.' I think it's pretty cool that we're in a position this week to actually do something about it. To have worked for seven or eight months for a particular goal and then to have this goal sitting in front of you only two days away now, I hope everyone realizes the importance of this game and I think everyone in [the locker room] does. I think that's been something that's been emphasized this week is a lot of guys have been putting a lot into this and there would be no better Christmas present this time of year than to go out and win this game. I think everyone has to go out there and play a great game against a very tough team in a very tough environment. But I'll tell you it's very exciting for us. There is no doubt about it. This is a championship game. It's pretty special any time you win a championship.
Q: Deion Branch said he is the Pete Sampras of ping pong and you're a paddle smasher [when you lose]. Is that true?
TB: Deion said that? Yeah he must have had a lot of free time in Seattle or something because he is a very good ping pong player. I'm not very good, but when I play those guys who are real good, it pisses me off pretty good when I lose to them regardless. I've busted a few paddles and thrown a few remotes from those video games I used to play when I was younger. So I wouldn't say I have the best attitude.
Q: Are you surprised that the team has gelled together like it has the past couple of weeks in the home stretch here?
TB: I think we've had a good attitude all season long. I think the guys really took to the coaching; really understood what it takes to win these games. I wouldn't say I'm really surprised; I'd say I'm probably more satisfied that we've all understood and bought into what Coach has been preaching since March. So that's been certainly exciting for us.
Q: Terrell Suggs said that you probably left him off your Pro Bowl ballot after he left you off his. Any reaction?
TB: No. No reaction. No, I think he's a great player. He really is. As a matter of fact, I didn't get to vote actually. So I left everybody off my Pro Bowl roster this year because I was sick, unfortunately. But I would have voted for Terrell. He gets might vote. Such a nice guy.
Q: With so many young guys on this team and with Christmas and everything there are potential distractions. Is it important as a leader on this team to keep these guys focused?
TB: Of course. And I think once you kind of get into November and December it kind of passes that college football season and everyone gets kind of worn down and the holidays and you've been at it for a long time, so you can really lose focus, but the good teams really pick it up that time of year. I think we've always tried to make that emphasis that in order to be a good football team you have to start playing well when the distractions start, because it's really easy to go the other way. Teams that may be 5-5 at one point become 11-5 and they're onto something special or you go 5-11. So you can honestly go one of two ways and I think weeks like this you go one of two ways. You can let the distractions play into it or you can keep doing what you have been doing and hope that the opponent uses those other things as distractions and you have that much more of an opportunity. So I know we've got to go out there and play a damn good game. We've got to be focused. I guess our Christmas present is hopefully Sunday afternoon. That's what we'll be striving for.
Q: Can you talk about the development you've seen from Sebastian Vollmer from last year?
TB: Sure. He's done a phenomenal job. And it's hard to talk about one guy on the offensive line without talking about them all, because all those guys, they play so much as a unit. Sea Bass (Vollmer) has been dependable, tough, consistent. He's really a great leader out there for a young player. He's very mature. He works his butt off. Very professional. He's obviously got the physical ability and I think his experience from last year has really transitioned over this year and what he's accomplished. That whole group, though, with Kope (Dan Koppen) and [Dan] Connolly, our kickoff returner, [Matt] Light, Steve Neal, who was having a damn good year before he went on IR, Logan [Mankins], to have him back has been incredible, I feel so great back there in the pocket because I know those guys will be protecting me. And every once in a while [an opponent] gets through, but those guys are fighting their butt off to keep them out.
Q: Is Vollmer a more vocal guy or lead by example?
TB: No I think he's lead by example. Sea Bass doesn't talk much.
Q: Not even to us.
TB: I know. He doesn't want to get yelled at by Bill [Belichick] for saying anything that... You know, we all get yelled at from time to time. But you're right, he's more of a quiet leader.
Thanks guys. Merry Christmas.