New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, September 9, 2009.
Q: Can you talk about the excitement of the first game?
TB: All the players are excited, I can assure you that. Camp has come and gone and I think we made the improvements that we needed to make over the last month. This is where the test comes. It's really a long journey, but it's always exciting to start on a Monday night against a division rival and a team we have a lot of respect for. Hopefully we go out and play our best.
Q: Is it a little bit more exciting for you since you haven't played a game in over a year?
TB: I played three of them in the last month, so I think a lot of those first-game jitters are gone. It's a regular season football game, so there's always a lot of excitement because we like to say we've come out of a tough camp. It's going to be fun for all of us to get out there and have a regular season game.
Q: Change is inevitable in the NFL, but when you look at your defense and you have five starters gone from last year, are you surprised at how quickly that happened and what does that say about this team?
TB: I think the thing is every team has turnover. Every team has change. I think because we've had some pretty good success here, a lot of those fixtures like a Rodney [Harrison] or a Mike [Vrabel] or Larry [Izzo] or Richard [Seymour], obviously, people recognize those names and those faces because they're part of the winning. Guys get older and guys move on, retire. I think we've really noticed that in the last couple of years, but it's been happening for a long time with Roman Phifer and Willie [McGinest] and Troy Brown, David Patten - all those guys moved on too - Deion [Branch] and David [Givens]. I've seen all of it and I'm very fortunate to be in the same place my entire career. That said, the other day, it's going to happen to all of us at some point. I think the important thing is for the guys that are here to go out there and prepare and be coachable, just like coach wants us to be. It's pretty easy; when you walk in it says 'Do your job' on the door and all the guys really try to follow that approach.
Q: How significant is it to lose the leadership component by losing Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Rodney Harrison and a lot of guys that seemed to be leaders in the locker room in one offseason?
TB: It remains to be seen because there're other guys who step into that leadership role. You can't replace those guys. They brought a ton of experience playing at a very high level. It's not like you can bring another Tedy Bruschi in the door or a Richard Seymour. Other guys have to really grow and mature in their play, but also in their leadership role. With those other guys moving on, it really opens up a spot for them to be able to do that. There're a lot of young players on the team, a lot of new players, but from my feeling in the locker room, I feel there's some very positive leadership from all those positions
Q: There's a lot of continuity on offense and you're basically playing with the same group you started with last year with a few additions. Are you surprised some of the other new guys they brought in didn't stick, and what does it mean to you to have that continuity?
TB: It's very competitive to make our offensive team this year because a lot of those guys have had those spots, especially on the offensive ine. The running back group is a veteran group. Randy [Moss] and Wes [Welker] - they're not coming off the field very often. And at tight end, I think Ben [Watson] has really been a staple there going on his sixth season. The continuity on offense is always important because it requires a lot of communication and anticipation. So does defense, but on offense, if one guys does the wrong thing, the play doesn't go well. For us to have the opportunity to play together for as many games and we have, you can make corrections that much faster. So rather than waiting until Monday morning to make the correction, you can make it as you walk off for the first series of how you want to handle something. It's something that we've done in the past and we're familiar with and that hopefully you can apply toward later in the game.
Q: While you were rehabbing last year, how much time did you spend thinking about Monday night and what it's going to be like?
TB: It's really been a progression of steps. First, you've got to be able to get up and do the offseason program and do that sort of conditioning. And then you've got to be able to participate in the camps and then continue your training until training camp. That's always been a goal. It's been a goal for all of us, I can assure you that. Nobody likes to sit out like I did last year and really, I think the way our season ended last year, no one really enjoyed the offseason very much either. So everybody's excited to get back and anxious for the season and opening it up against a team like Buffalo who always presents some unique challenges for us. They're a very well-coached team, great fundamentals, very disciplined team, so we've got our work cut out for us.
Q: Personally, how excited are you to finally get back out there and play a real game?
TB: I feel great about where we're at as a team. Personally, I'm excited like all the guys are excited. I've played a lot of games, so it's not like it's the first game of my rookie season, that type of excitement. I think there's just an excitement for a new season and to see what kind of team we have and to see what kind of mental toughness we have and what kind of character we have. We're going to be faced with plenty of adversity this year and I want to see how we respond to that. It's always exciting to start the year, especially playing on Monday night.
Q: What were you doing last year during the games?
TB: Watching, like everybody else.
Q: From home?
Q: What was it like watching from home?
TB: You know, I'd rather be playing, but that wasn't what I had to do. I was cheering the guys on and supporting the best I could.
Q: Do you feel as healthy going into this opener as you did going into the 2008 opener - you didn't play in the preseason last year - or maybe even healthier?
TB: I'm very happy that I was able participate in the preseason this year. That was really important to get out there and play and get a feel for the game. A lot of those things that come up in a game that don't come up in practice - to be able to prepare for those and talk about that with whether it was Greg [Lewis] or Joey [Galloway] or some of the new tight ends in the preseason. All those games are important and the preparation for us is very important. Last year was...hopefully we won't have to go through something like that again in the future, but I think for this year, I'm excited about where we're at.
Q: A lot of players say losses stick with them more than wins. The last loss that you were really a part of was the 2007 Super Bowl loss to the Giants. Has that stuck with you through all of this?
TB: Yeah. Every loss that I think I've had here in my career I can remember because they're always important losses. They're playoffs losses, like that one or the Indy game the year before that - that was tough. That was really tough. The Denver one where I threw the interception - that was really tough. But you learn from them, and you understand that every time you take the field, there's no guarantee to victory. You appreciate the victories when you get them, but they're hard to come by, especially in those important games like that where you're playing the best competition under the highest amount of pressure where it means the most. That was not a very memorable one.
Q: Is it a motivator at all?
TB: I think there's a lot of motivation. You don't necessarily need to go back a few years for motivation. You learn lessons from that game. We've applied things that we learned in that game to what we're doing today. Hopefully if the same or similar situation presents itself, we can act in a more efficient way. You take those lessons and you learn from them, but motivation comes...we have plenty of motivation. We finished 11-5 last year and didn't make the playoffs and didn't win the division, and looking up at Miami, there're new challenges with the Jets, and there's no bigger challenge than we've faced in Buffalo here in about five days.
Q: Does it feel odd to only have one backup quarterback instead of 2 and 10 offensive linemen instead of 8?
TB: I don't think about that at all. I don't have any control over what offensive linemen we keep or how many quarterbacks. I think that the guys that are on the team deserve to be on the team; they've worked hard and earned a spot, so Coach Belichick obviously feels like they can contribute at some point. Hopefully 10 guys don't play in this game on the offensive line, but at some point we'll probably need all of them
Q: Are you used to the brace? Are you comfortable with it?
TB: Yeah, I am.
Q: You talked about the turnover on defense and how it relates to the locker room, but what should we expect from this new defense on the field? How is this defense different with all the guys that are gone?
TB: They're going to create their own style. You're not going to have the loudmouths like Vrabel - you still have Adalius [Thomas] - but Rodney was a guy that I loved to compete against out there in practice. There are other guys that have stepped into those roles. James [Sanders] is now...I remember when he was learning from Rodney, and now he's the guy that Patrick Chung will be learning from. There are definitely some new faces over there and some new looks, and I think they are very skilled. Hopefully they can get after the passer. I love when I see our defensive line sacking the quarterback and making the quarterback throw the ball earlier than he would like and forcing him into bad decisions and then intercepting the ball. They are going to have their hands full this week with a great team and a great offense in Buffalo, who presents some different threats. But they're going to have their own identity.
Q: Most of us mellow a little with age. Does that transfer to you on the field, or should we still expect the same head butting with Ben Watson and calling out a DB if he's been a loudmouth?
TB: Yeah. You can probably - you can expect that. It's something that gets me really motivated and excited for the game and gets me into it and gets your adrenaline going. I love being out there and there's a real excitement when you're out there. The emotions go in a lot of places; usually whoever is in your way gets it, whether it's a good call or a bad call or a touchdown or the pregame warm-ups. That's always a fun part of the game for me.
Q: Can you recall what your reaction was when you hear Joe Montana was now a Kansas City Chief, and can you contrast that with your reaction when you hear about trades now?
TB: I remember when they traded Joe. My mom loved Joe Montana, so that was hard in our own house. I remember when he went to the Chiefs. I remember they played a Monday night game against Denver and I was at this gym I used to go work out in and it had a TV in one of the locker rooms. On the West Coast it was televised at like 5:30, so I stayed there and watched the whole game from this TV in this room. There must have been at one point 40 or 50 people just sitting there watching Joe as if he was still on the 49ers. They really loved him and rooted for him and he actually came back and threw a touchdown pass at the end of the game in Mile High, which was pretty unbelievable. They had a pretty good quarterback there in San Francisco at the time when they got rid of him, but those great players, they do move on. They carry with them a lot of great memories.
Q: Did you react then like everyone else in the Bay Area with 'what are they thinking?'
TB: Yeah, yeah. I remember it was a tough decision though, because Steve Young was really a good player at the time and Montana had been hurt and Young came in the year before and really played well. I went and saw Joe's last game when they played the Giants. I think that was on a Monday night too. I had to go see that one. Yeah, they had a lot of memorable years there for the 49ers and guys moved on. Guys do move on. It's just a reality if this game. Great players move on. Randy Moss has been traded twice, so that tells you about great players moving on. That pretty much sums it up.