Patriots wide receiver Torry Holt addresses the media during his conference call on Wednesday, April 21, 2010.
Q: Can you talk about how this all came together? Was it quickly or did this develop throughout the offseason?
TH: I first would like to say good evening and thanks to the New England Patriots for giving me an opportunity to continue playing football in the National Football League, something I've always wanted to do and something I've been doing for a long time. Thanks to Coach Belichick and his staff for believing in me and giving me an opportunity. In terms of the signing, it was something that's been brewing over the offseason. My agent had been talking with the Patriots diligently and I had an opportunity to talk to Coach Belichick. It was an outstanding meeting and I guess they wanted to go back and review and talk about what their plans were in terms of the future and this year. I got a phone call and my agent said they wanted to do something and here we are. I think it's a great opportunity - a great organization. I was up there yesterday and had the opportunity to visit with everybody and talk and see the building and feel the atmosphere and tradition, so I'm excited.
Q: You are a 33 year old receiver, how much do you have left from the guy who was the seven-time Pro Bowler, one-time All Pro and was the most productive receiver in the last decade statistically?
TH: I've still got plenty of football left to play. I honestly believe that. I train. I prepare that way. I think that way. I carry myself that way, so it's just a matter of a team giving me the opportunity to play and make plays for the football team. And I think coming to New England, hopefully I have an opportunity to do that. You're talking about playing with some of the most prolific offensive football players that the National Football League has. To have the opportunity to fit in with those guys, to learn the offense - I think the sky's the limit. So to answer your question, I still have a lot of football left in me to play and I'm excited about that. I feel good health wise. I'm training hard every day and am getting myself physically in the position to come to New England to play and compete and try to help the football team.
Q: What kind of preconceived ideas did you have about the Patriots before you signed with them?
TH: I saw this organization as a competitive organization, a winning organization. They definitely put a high premium on winning and you can tell by the way they play. This is an organization, for a guy like myself, that's into execution, perfection. This is an organization that I want to be a part of. I'm excited about it. I'm humbled. I'm thankful for it. Now it's just for me to get myself in the best possible condition, learn how they do things in this organization offensively and try to get in and fit as quickly as I possibly can to try to emerge, make plays and help us offensively.
Q: We were talking to Kevin Faulk who is a similar age as you, and asking about when he first came in the league. He laughed and said that he's obviously not as fast as he was, but he's a lot smarter. Do you think you are physically as fast as you were or are you in that same category as Kevin Faulk?
TH: I'm 12 years removed, so I'm not as fast as I once was when I first came into the National Football League. I've had knee surgery, so that's kind of slowed me down. I still have enough speed, enough sense of urgency, enough game speed to play and be effective and continue to make plays. I think I've illustrated that over the years and as my speed quote unquote 'started to decline'. When you lose that speed, you have other things you go to. The mind - being able to study and know the game, knowing what defenders will do before they even do them. You counter off those before they even know that you're countering. So I still have my mind, my eyes and my quickness. I still have some ability to still run, get open and still be effective, so I'll lean on those things. I'll continue to fine tune those things and get better in those areas and come to New England and see if I can fit in and do what I do.
Q: How much explanation did they give you about how they run their offense? Have you done things like the option routes and everything else that they're teaching, whether it be in St. Louis or Jacksonville?
TH: I've been in a system where we've had some flexibility in terms of option routes - learning and reading coverage and reacting instinctively as the game is played. And the Patriots, their offensive scheme is complex, but it's fair and it's fun. For receivers, it's a system that you would enjoy being a part of, so I look forward to it. I just have to come in and learn some of the new terminology and some of the way they call, run routes and do things differently. And that's fine; That's all a part of it. But [it is] a very successful offense, a unique offense and they have a guy at the helm in Tom Brady who can orchestrate and put everybody in position to make ball plays. So you just have to learn your part as quickly as you can, know what you're doing, communicate, go out and play and play fast, and go out and have fun.
Q: Have you heard from any of the key members from this offense thus far?
TH: I spoke with [Kevin] Faulk briefly. I spoke with Fred Taylor briefly. I had an opportunity to speak with Tom [Brady] briefly and those guys are heck of a guys. I came in with Faulk. We came out the same year, so to see him still around and playing and still enjoying the game, I look forward to getting with him and working with him. Fred Taylor I've had a lot of respect for. Obviously, Tom I have respect for him and Randy [Moss] and those guys. I saw [Julian] Edelman yesterday when I was there, so he and Matthew Slater and I talked to those guys. So I've had the opportunity to visit and talk with some of the guys on the offense. Everybody's upbeat. Everybody seems excited about the upcoming year. We look forward to getting back to work.
Q: I was talking to someone earlier who covered you at NC State and they had a lot to say about your work ethic there. They mentioned you picked tobacco. Was that when you were a kid?
TH: Yeah, North Carolina is tobacco row. There's a lot of tobacco there and I picked tobacco when I was young - middle school, high school. It taught me a lot about work. It taught me a lot about mental toughness, physical toughness, working as a team. I learned a lot in the tobacco field. My parents were hard workers. All of my family members are hard workers and it carried over into me and until this day, I still work hard. This morning I worked out. When I get off this conference call with you guys I am going to stretch and am going to work out again. That's all I know. I enjoy working. I feel working hard and preparing gives you an opportunity for success. I'm thankful for those moments in the tobacco field. Those sunny, hot days - those misty mornings and that gunk. That sun beating down on you. Those snakes chasing you throughout the tobacco field and navigating with those guys is maybe where I got some of my quickness from. And then the ability to have the strong hands, peeling those leaves off those big tough stalks, if anybody out there pulled tobacco knows exactly what I'm talking about. You build up some strength in those forearms and those hands. [I have] a tremendous amount of respect for those fields and again, it definitely gave me the foundation of my work ethic and I carried that on from middle school, high school, prep school, college and into the National Football League, so I'm very thankful for those moments.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the opportunity to play with a quarterback like Tom Brady?
TH: I look forward to it. I said all season - when I had an opportunity to speak on it - I said I wanted to play with an elite quarterback and Tom is one of those guys. It's a small [group] of those guys in the National Football League. That narrowed down my choices of teams and I knew that and that was fine and a lot of those teams knew I was happy and fortunate enough to be able to join the Patriots. I said I wanted to work with an elite quarterback, so I look forward to this opportunity. You're talking about a guy who's tough, he's passionate, he's well respected by his teammates. I see that from the outside looking in and I kind of got that feeling yesterday being in the building. The respect he garners there, the respect he garners across the National Football League, so you know when you've got somebody like him at the helm you know you've got the opportunity of winning some games on Sundays, so I look forward to it. I understand his work ethic and his commitment to film study. His improvement every day, every year is outstanding. It's bar none. I look forward to being around that energy he provides and that leadership and that excellence he exudes. I look forward to being around that.
Q: You talked about the complexity of the Patriots offense. After spending your career with St. Louis and then running a new offense in Jacksonville, what can you take from that experience when you come to the Patriots in terms of familiarizing yourself with this new offense and getting yourself ready to be a part of it?
TH: In St. Louis we ran the number system. I ran that number system in college, so that transition was rather smooth. In St. Louis you had to learn X, Y and Z and learn all the receiver positions. In Jacksonville, they ran more - sometimes the number system, but sometimes the word system. They called things with more verbiage. In New England they have more of a verbiage system. So there's probably not a lot of numbers in their system, so I'll be able to draw from St. Louis as well as Jacksonville. A lot of teams in the National Football League run some of the same concepts in terms of routes. It's just worded and said differently. Obviously, that will be a challenge, but in terms of recognizing the concepts in terms of the routes and how things are done, I can pick up on that fairly quickly. For me the challenge will be learning the language, learning Tom, seeing what it is that he expects play after play, what he's thinking - those types of things you'll learn when you get out on the field and start to practice with him. It will be a challenge I'm sure early on, but if you're passionate and you love football and you want to go out and help the team and be a part of it, you'll learn it and you'll learn it pretty quickly. So I'm up for it. I'm up for the challenge. I just have to stay in my playbook, stay on top of my homework and try to learn this thing and try to become part of it as quickly as I can.
Q: How long did it take getting over hating the New England Patriots after February 4, 2002?
TH: To be honest with you, I never hated the Patriots. I can honestly say that. I've never hated the Patriots. I'll never get over that loss in the Super Bowl because it takes so much to get there and then to lose that game - it hurts. It hurts to get to the big game and lose. But in terms in hating them, I don't hate anybody. I wasn't raised that way and I never thought that way. Never did I hate them, but I always looked forward to the opportunity of playing them again when I was on other teams. And now I look forward to joining them and hopefully winning some ball games this year and seeing how it goes.
Q: What was the interest from other teams? Did anything get serious with anyone else in your free agency period here?
TH: Yeah, I had some interest from a couple other teams. I weighed all the options and looked at all the pros and cons, but the New England Patriots situation and opportunity looked and felt really good. Again, you're talking about an organization that is committed to winning, committed to working hard, committed to improving - improving their football team, improving their players. I couldn't ask for anything better than that. Being around guys that are going to challenge you physically, mentally, emotionally every day - it's something that, at this point in my career, I want to be a part of. When they came knocking and said, 'hey there's an opportunity,' I told my agent to let me talk it over with my family. I did that and got the response I wanted and said 'let's do it.' Again, I'm humbled. I've always been humbled. I'm excited. I'm thankful and fortunate that the New England Patriots saw something in me and are going to give me an opportunity to try to make their football team for the 2010 season.