Q:Why do you think it is that a lot of these undrafted or unheralded guys come into this environment and succeed? Why are they able to get opportunities here when other places don't seem to give them that opportunity?
TB:I think there are a lot of guys on a lot of teams that aren't necessarily the high picks or are undrafted free agents that get an opportunity and really take advantage of it. It speaks to those guys and their character and their ability to work hard and find a place that really fits for them. A guy like Danny Woodhead, we were excited to get him when we got him last year. He's a heck of a football player. He's really made an impact on our team since that first game. Coach Belichick, if you're on this team, he has confidence in you. You know when you lose confidence he wouldn't get through to you. I think everyone has a lot of confidence when you're a part of this team and you're able to take the field and Coach puts the trust in you to go out there and help try to win us football games.
Q:As someone who has Super Bowl experience, what are you trying to get through to your teammates as you prepare for the game?
TB:Coach Belichick prepares the team pretty well. What a lot of the veterans have tried to do is set an example by doing the right thing. It's not so much, 'Hey this is the way it's going to be,' it's 'Look, we're going to work hard, it's a football game for us, it might be the Super Bowl for everybody else but for us we're going there to try to win a football so put all the distractions aside and don't let anything get in the way of our preparation.' That's ultimately what is most important. This game, everyone will remember for their rest of their life. Hopefully it's a good memory.
Q:Do you have any doubt Rob Gronkowski will be ready for the game?
TB:I have no idea. I'm not sure. I think everyone deals with bumps and bruises this time of year. It's the Super Bowl so we're all trying to get out there and be healthy. It would suck to miss this game. You put all the work in over the course of the entire year and to have the opportunity to play in this game, you know everyone is going to be doing everything they can to be out there.
Q:When you were hurt in the AFC title game in 2007, you had no doubts you'd be ready.
TB:Yeah, I wasn't going to miss that game. I don't miss many. I certainly wasn't going to miss that one.
Q:You told Robert Kraft, 'Don't worry, I'll play better next game,' after the AFC Championship Game. Do you immediately turn the page or is that how you work to bounce back?
TB:I'm always trying to play better. Every player on this team is trying to play better every week. I'm glad we won that game; glad we're sitting in this position now. I think a lot of guys played really well and that's what it is going to take again this week. I always have private conversations with Mr. Kraft but they're supposed to be private but I guess they're not.
Q:Can you talk about Tom Martinez and the matching donor program?
TB:He's been a great friend of mine for a long time. He taught me how to throw the football at a very young age. He's been looking for a kidney for quite awhile. Hopefully we can find him one soon. A lot of people are looking for kidneys or some different type of transplants but he's very deserving. He's a great man.
Q:What sort of pressures do you personally experience in a game of this magnitude based on the caliber of play that you exhibit?
TB:I think there's pressure for every player. It's not necessarily me. Certainly there's pressure on me; there's pressure on the coaches and the players. We're expected to do our job at a very high level. You go into this game where you're playing your toughest opponent. There are only two teams that are playing in this that are still going. There's certainly a finality to this game that you're putting absolutely everything you can into it preparation-wise. You're expected to go out there and play at your very best. There's no reason why we shouldn't because we've had 110 practices, this is our 23rd game of the year. It's pretty incredible when you think of a real long football season. We have experience, we've seen a lot. This is our third time we'll be playing this team: preseason, regular season and postseason. There is some familiarity with them. Everyone should be excited and ready to go out there and play our best game.
Q:What has it meant to have a guy like BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the backfield for you? A steadying presence back there; maybe not the flashiest but he's consistently hitting the four yards per carry mark.
TB:Benny, since the day he got here, he's worked extremely hard. He really kind of broke through in '08. He got a lot of opportunities there and really took advantage of them. He's always done that. He runs hard, he's tough, he's smart, catches the ball well, blitz pickup is really good, he's got great vision, he's hard to tackle. It's great; he's very consistent back there. We have a great group of backs.
Q:Can you talk about what Mrs. Kraft meant to you personally and why she has been such a big inspiration to this team?
TB:I spoke about that so many times. I think she's just been a wonderful influence on every guy that has been a part of this team. We wear her initials on our patch on our jersey. It has certainly been a meaningful year for Mr. Kraft and his family. We know how important this season is to him. Hopefully we represent her well by wearing that patch.
Q:This is the fifth Super Bowl for you, Kevin Faulk and Matt Light. What does that say about you guys and this organization?
TB:We've won a lot of games.
Q:You've each had injuries that have ended seasons.
TB:I think we've been very fortunate. It's one thing to be a good team. We've gotten some breaks. To be in this position, you certainly need some good fortune too. We're relatively healthy, we've had a tough schedule but we fought through some adversity. It's a very mentally tough team. I think there's some very good veteran leadership and certainly the rookies have done a good job missing all of the offseason program and really done a great job for us. It requires everybody. It's every single player on this team, every coach, every practice squad player that has really made a commitment to each other to come out here every day for these 106 practices and give everything he can to the team. We've won 15 games, three losses; it hasn't been all perfect but we're finding ways to win these games. That's ultimately how you move on and get to this point.
Q:Do you have to utilize your quick read to get rid of the ball quickly so you're not at risk back there because of the pressure the Giants' front four can bring?
TB:They can rush the passer. There's no doubt about that. In playing them before, you understand that they can - they stripped sacked us on our own 10-yard line or something like that when we played them last. They get a lot of turnovers. They put a lot of pressure on you with their front four. They have a big, physical group that plays really well together. You watch them play against the 49ers; they played a great game defensively. They gave up two points against Atlanta which was on a defensive score. They're a great football team, they have a great defense. Every time we play them, it's, you talk about their defense, their pass rush. It's going to be a good game -we have our work cut out for us.
Q:What are your impressions of Eli Manning?
TB:He's a great quarterback. He's been a first pick in the draft. I've always watched him. He does everything you're looking for as a quarterback. I've seen it firsthand what he can do in the fourth quarter of these games. He's done a great job bringing his team back. He's a great leader. You always hear that coming out of New York, the guys really have a lot of respect for him and so do I.
Q:How hard is it to train yourself to stand in until the last second to deliver the ball?
TB:It's part of the position and like I said, you watch the San Francisco game and I watched that and he was getting drilled and just stood in there and kept making the throws, trusting his protection and came through when they needed him. He's certainly a great leader for that team and plays at an extremely high level. You don't get to this game without playing at a high level. He seems to always do it down the stretch. I have a ton of respect for him. He's a great competitor. He's a great quarterback for that team.
Q:Earlier in the week you said you were going to play the best game of your career.
TB:I said I hoped to.
Q:What made you make that comment and do you need to play the best game of your career to beat a team like the Giants?
TB:I sure hope so. I hope I do. I go out there and you try to be at your very best in the biggest game. My teammates really count on that, certainly I count on that. There's a lot of preparation that goes into that. Playing with confidence and anticipation and understanding the game plan and going out and executing it when it matters the most. That's what it's going to take. It's a great team that we're playing; everyone is going to need to be at their best.