Troy Brown announces his retirement from Pro Football during a press conference at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, September 25, 2008.
RKK: Welcome everyone. I want to welcome Troy [Brown] back to his home here at Gillette Stadium. I was thinking back that it was 14 years ago when we bought the team. Since that time we have had three head coaches, dozens of assistant coaches and 820 players. There is only one player that has been a constant through that whole period, who was actually here before my family got here right through the end of last season. How lucky for us that Troy Brown, to me, is the consummate Patriot. What he did on the field and the way he conducted himself off the field, the fact that he always put team first, that he stayed with the Patriots his whole career, he could have gone some other places and got more money and he chose to stay here. I think it's a great lesson for the young players on our team today who are worried about making the team. Troy was actually drafted in the eighth round in 1993. So today he would be an undrafted free agent because there is no eighth round. Then, he started as a punt returner and a kick returner. In '97 he started as a wide receiver and then his contributions mounted and mounted. In the '01 season when he broke the team record for receptions and had over 100 receptions but what sticks out most to me was what he did on special teams that year especially in the Pittsburgh game, the [AFC] championship game. I believe we won by 3,6 or 7 points - I don't remember. But, I do remember he returned a Josh Miller punt for 55 yards right up the middle and then he blocked a field goal kick that he 'lateraled' to a teammate, so he was responsible for 14 points alone on special teams that year. Then of course in '04 he played the nickel back role when we needed him as well as being an outstanding wide receiver. As I think back to all the wonderful years with him, I am also so proud about what he represents as a human being. He is a wonderful father and I am happy to see his two sons [Sir'mon and SaanJay] here and his beautiful wife [Kimberly]. He is a responsible family man. He is someone who whatever he has done off the field, whenever someone talks about Troy Brown they talk about what a good human being he is and what good of a name he has.
BB: It has truly been an honor and a privilege to coach Troy, primarily since I came back in 2000, but even my association with him in '96 when I was here as the secondary coach. I think Troy, as I have talked about with our players, is the consummate professional. A great story, a guy that didn't have a college scholarship and got the last scholarship at Marshall. As Robert mentioned, [he was] drafted in the eighth round and we now have seven-round drafts. I think that sums that up. When I was in Cleveland and I talked to Coach [Bill] Parcells, I think it was the year after, it was probably in '94, he said, "We've got this kid from Marshall, a return guy, I don't know if he is any good or not, but there are some things I kind of like about him." Then, when I got here in '96 and worked against Troy coaching the secondary. There were some good receivers on that team, but in all honesty, we had as much trouble covering Troy as we had covering any of those other guys. When Charlie [Weis] and I were at the Jets and then I ultimately came back in 2000, I remember Charlie and I had several conversations about this guy who's really a good football player and he hasn't had the opportunity; what we really thought he could do as a slot receiver and as a deceptive big play receiver, his versatility in the kicking game. Troy has gone on to have a tremendous career here with most catches in franchise history and 120 catches in that '01 season, including the playoffs. I think back fondly of some of the great moments Troy had here, offensively. The pass from David Patten in the Indianapolis game was a huge play for us in a big game. The Super Bowl, the pass across the middle where he got out of bounds and we had no timeouts to stop the clock and set up the game-winning field goal.
Against Carolina in '03, in the Super Bowl, he had three catches on that last touchdown, game-winning drive; which without that first and 20, I don't know where that drive ends up. He made a great catch over the middle from Tom [Brady]. The Snow Game, everybody talks about Adam's [Vinatieri] kick and it was a hell of a kick. But without Troy's punt return to set that up that put us in field position to at least get into field goal range, I don't know if there ever is a kick. We got into the '04 season and we had some injuries in the secondary. We used Troy at the inside position in our sub defense in a position we call the "Star". I remember the first game we played; it was in St. Louis. That game was against, obviously, still a great offensive football team and he had a big day there, defensively, and broke up some passes. He really stepped in and played a big role in that game and, also, caught probably the easiest touchdown of his career - the sleeper pass down there from Vinatieri on the 4-yard line on the fake field goal. Then, of course, he had the interception against [Drew] Bledsoe and the interception in the Cincinnati game against Carson Palmer to kind of seal that win. He just made some plays for us on the defensive side of the ball, but the game that really stands out, to me, is the Green Bay game. We went up there in '06. Eugene Wilson was out. Rodney Harrison was out and Asante [Samuel] was out. We said, 'Well, we're going to put Troy on Donald Driver.' I remember some looks in there from the defensive coaches, and even the players. [Driver] had 93 catches and 1,300 yards. Driver was the leading receiver in the NFC. Troy held him to one catch for three yards. The only one that he caught, Troy wasn't involved in that one, but he had one catch for three yards on him against Donald Driver. In our locker room, and in the hallways, and the meeting rooms and so forth, we have pictures up from different games and different players. [Holding up a picture of Brown] To me, that picture, and I want to give Troy these pictures from the team, that picture epitomizes Troy Brown. Up against the best receiver in the NFC, in a game that three of our key defensive backs were out, he steps up and does a great job on him. I remember the Miami game, in Miami, when we couldn't win in Miami in the early part of the year. I don't know how long… I don't think we'd ever done it. We'd never won in Miami and it didn't look like we were going to that day either. It was 13-13 with six minutes to go in overtime. We couldn't move the ball. It was a tough day. Charlie [Weis] called a 130 Gap Slant. Tom [Brady] looks to the weak side and doesn't have it. Troy runs the post, gets in there behind the safeties and probably gives us one of his biggest catches - it was his longest, 82 yards - to beat Miami when nobody thought we could do that. Nobody thought Troy could go deep. Nobody thought he could make the big plays. But all he did was make plays. He just kept making them. I think back to the '01 season when Troy had all of those punt returns: the Oakland game; the Pittsburgh game, for a touchdown; and the Cleveland game. We were sitting there at 7-5. It's a tough game, 10-10, back-and-forth, neither team could really get much of an advantage, and Troy takes that one back, right up the middle. That's the touchdown against Cleveland. Richard Seymour made the block on [Chris] Gardocki. I don't think Troy needed it, but that was a nice block on that touchdown.
Troy, we have so many great memories of you and all you have done for this organization, this football team and me, personally. I will be forever grateful and indebted to you. It truly has been an honor, truly an honor to coach you as a professional football team. On behalf of our football team and myself, I want to give you these three pictures, three of our greatest memories of you, along with many. Congratulations.
TB: Thank you for coming out today to help cover this event. I am going to try to get through this without crying today. I wanted to come here and share with you the announcement of my retirement from the National Football League and most importantly from the Patriots. I will always be a Patriot, just not in uniform. I have been invited by Bill [Belichick]; I am always welcome in the building so I am going to take advantage of that invitation. I wanted to come and share with you guys, before you see me pop up somewhere just sitting on TV talking about what am I doing with my life right now. Thank you for coming out and being a part of this. I want to thank Mr. Kraft and his family for allowing me to not just be a part of their football team but a part of their family. He came in after my first season and the team was threatening to move to St. Louis, he came in and saved the day. He kept the team here in New England. If you just look outside of this building now, you can see what a transformation he has made from Foxboro Stadium, not just on this football team but in this community and in the New England area. He has done a tremendous job with building not only his own brand but the NFL brand and bringing them a consistent win year after year. I want to say thank you again to you and your family for keeping me around here for so many years. I know you fought a few years to keep me around. You [Robert Kraft] and Bill [Belichick] were probably going back and forth saying, 'Is he too old yet?' He wanted to keep me around, so I want to thank you. I do appreciate it. I want to thank Bill for just believing in me. It was hard for me in the first few years of my career to find that one coach that thought I had what it takes to be a starting receiver in this league. Being the, as you already know, eye for talent and eye for identifying the ability to get things done the way he wants them done. Not only the ability but [also] the smarts to play the game the way he likes to play it. He came in here and taught me the right way to play this football game. I tell you, it has been nothing but beneficial to me not only in football but in other areas of my life too. I want to say thank you to him for giving me the opportunity to be something that everyone said I wasn't going to be and that was to be a starting receiver in this league. Not only that but you made me quite a defensive back also. So thank you coach, I do appreciate it. Like you said we share so many memories. I am sure down the line we will share many more -many more stories about the games that we had together and the games that you have coming up in the future too. We will talk a lot of football. That is the one thing I enjoy doing, is talking about the sport that I loved so much and that I played for 30 years. That's why it's hard for guys like myself to let the game go. It has been a part of my life since the second grade - for 30 years. At some point, you reach that point that your mind keeps telling you…I remember watching the games this weekend and it was a tough catch, the guy may not make it and you just tell yourself I can make that play. But, you get up go outside for a run and, 'oh my knee doesn't feel quite right.' You start telling yourself, ' I don't know if I can make that catch or not.' You can't out run the time; no matter how much you try you can't do it. God knows I would love to go out there and try today and practice today but we all know there comes a time where you just have to say, 'I can't keep up anymore.' I would love to play this game the way I played when I was 25 but I just can't keep up the way I used to. I just want to thank you for being here to be a part of this. Before I close this up, I want to say thank you to my family for being here. I know it has been tough. It's been hard over the years, being away and being gone, working all the time. Coming home after a bad practice being cussed out by Bill, some of those days are rough. I think I was able to share with you, my wife Kim, my boys Sir'mon and SaanJay, all the success that these guys helped bring about in my life, capturing the ultimate goal which is to win championships. Not only one but having an opportunity to play in five of those championship games, bring home three beautiful rings and capturing that ultimate goal what we all work for and that's to be called a champion. To share that with my boys, to have them on the field with me before the game, letting them be a part of that and what the atmosphere is all about - the confetti falling on their heads. My youngest was three years old the second time we went and he still remembers that confetti falling on his head - that's what this game is all about. It has created some beautiful memories not just for me but [also] for all of you, my family, my friends and everybody. It is hard sometimes to just let it go but I know at the end of the day I played this game the way it was supposed to be played and that's doing whatever it takes to win the game. Not just catching the football, not just lifting weights but a combination of so many different things that goes into building champions. The hard work, dedication, studying, like he always said he wanted a smart, tough football team. That's what I always tried to give, whatever my coach asked me to do. That's what I always tried to pass off to all the younger guys that came in to show them how I worked in the weight room. Show them how I studied films. Show them how I worked on the field. I think I set a standard here for New England football over the years and it gives me a lot of pleasure and makes me feel good that I know I helped build what's happening here today. I didn't do it by myself a lot of people helped me behind the scenes, on the scene and at home. It took a lot to build a legacy that is built around here today and the expectations that are formed around here to build champions. I know Bill, I know Mr. Kraft - they won't accept anything less than your best. I think you will be surprised that when you go out and give your best even when your back is up against the wall, people may be doubting you, the kind of situation we are in right now with people doubting the Patriots, doubting us if we can get it done or not. But, I have been in that situation many times and it helps a lot when you have the confidence of someone that has accomplished as much as these two guys have - To be on your side, to have your back, have your family behind you and have your friends behind you, to go out there and get your job done. I believe with all my heart when everyone is on the same page and everyone is working together, nothing but great things can happen. That's how I sum up my career. I put the work in. I earned it. I came to work and I did my job. I didn't know where it was going to be everyday but when I got it, I did my job and I did it the best that I could. In closing, I want to thank everybody for being a part of my career and helping it to become what it's become. The media, you helped build what's here now. I don't know how to close this thing out. It's hard. It's tough. I would give anything in the world to put those pads on again and do it. I probably had the opportunity to do it but it just wasn't the right color. I didn't think I looked good in green and white again. In closing this thing out, it will be the only colors you ever see on my back as a football player and that's the red, white and blue of the New England Patriots. I am proud to say that and thank you for all the great memories you all provided. I am almost there before I cry. It's been a wonderful ride. I can't think of anything better in life to do than to enjoy a sunny afternoon playing football. I enjoy those sunny afternoons watching football and still saying in my head, 'I can make that play.'
Q: What are your personal highlights?
TB: I would say that 82-yard pass in the Miami game. We hadn't won a game down there in the month of September. To go down there and win that game the way we won it because no one was expecting me to run a deep pattern because I hadn't done that too often before. To end the game the way we did down there, to get that monkey off our back of not winning in September, I thought that was probably one of the biggest plays I can remember.
Q: Was there ever a point in your career when you doubted you could make it in the NFL?
TB: I don't think I ever doubted. When I did get cut my second year, I think I was out about seven or eight weeks, I believe. There was a little bit of doubt that crept into my mind that I wouldn't get a chance to show that I could play in the league. But I don't think I doubted that I could because I had been here and I saw what I was up against. I knew if I had the opportunities that some of those guys had to make the team; I knew that I could show them that I belonged in the NFL. I never doubted myself as far as my ability to play.
Q: What is the next step for you?
TB: I plan on suiting up today and going to practice with the guys, but I doubt that will happen. That's my biggest wish. I think you will probably see me around, doing some media stuff, covering a few of the games. You will still see me out doing charity work in the community. That's always been close and dear to my heart, being able to get out, and help people, and put some smiles on some faces. You will still see me around doing quite a few things. I have different business ventures here in town. I will be around. I will be here. This is my second home. I have two homes: West Virginia and Massachusetts.
Q: Do you have a desire to stay in the game as a coach or in the front office?
TB: At this time, I don't see it happening right now. It sounds like I have some pretty good guys on my side if I wanted to coach. I think right now, whatever I wanted to do; they would help me do it. But, I just don't see it. My boys are not old enough to ride their bikes over to see me at work and that would be the case if I got into coaching. I don't think that's going to happen right now. Maybe when they get a little older I would think about it.
Q: Can you talk about your offer from the Saints?
TB: It was pretty tempting. It was more money. I think my role here was starting to diminish or had diminished. It's something that my boys, they didn't want to go to New Orleans. They had a lot to do with that decision that year. They didn't want to see me in another uniform besides playing for the Patriots and that was a huge influence for me. I am glad I made that decision. That was the same year the hurricane came through and tore up everything. It ended up being a great decision after all. I think the way things turned out; I know it was the best decision for me to stay here.
Q: What about this year? How close were you to going somewhere else?
TB: It came pretty close. Actually, I flew down to New York and visited with [Jets Head Coach Eric] Mangini and his staff. They were really excited about signing me up and making me a Jet. It was tempting because I had talked to Bill and I knew they weren't going to bring me back here. It was tempting to get out there and see what I could do for one more year. I had to sit back and I thought about it for a long time. That's what has taken me so long to give you the announcement that I was done playing. It just didn't feel right and I didn't want to go somewhere and give someone an effort that I didn't think was acceptable to me; and try to give that to them and say, 'This is what I can give you.' That just wasn't my style. I wasn't going to give them a mediocre performance when I thought I was capable of doing more. I didn't think I was able to provide them with the type of plays that they were probably looking for.
Q: Was there anything that happened over the last few weeks that told you it was time to retire?
TB: I couldn't stop going to Baskin-Robbins. I kind of knew then. When June comes around I am usually on a strict diet. I celebrate my birthday on July 2. Other than that, when June comes around collard greens and all that good stuff, baked chicken. When I am still going to Baskin-Robbins, I figured it was probably over.
Q: What was your first reaction when Coach Belichick asked you to play defensive back?
TB: I kind of thought they were joking. I was sitting at my locker and it was a situation where I always used to tease Ty Law about playing defensive back. [Law] and receivers coach Brian Daboll about playing receiver. We never really thought anything about it we did it for years. I was sitting at my locker, looking over my offensive plays and Eric Mangini comes in and drops this defensive playbook in my face like, 'Get ready to go. You are doing one-on-ones today.' I'm putting on my shoes, getting ready to practice and I'm like, 'How am I supposed to learn this in 10 minutes?' That's how it came about. He came in and said, 'You always said you wanted to play defensive back and you can do it so here's your chance.' I'll tell you, that first day was pretty bad. Charlie Weis came in after practice, he wasn't happy because he wasn't fond of me playing defense because it was taking away from his offensive guys. After practice he said, 'I guess that was the end of that deal.' It was pretty ugly. Every guy on the team toasted me and beat me up pretty bad. I was blowing coverages; that was the start of it. The next day Bill [Belichick] was like, 'Get back out there and do it again.' Every day I got a little better at it and I guess I earned enough confidence to get in against "The Greatest Show on Turf" against the Rams. That was my first game playing defensive back and the rest was history from there.
Q: That was in training camp that year?
TB: Yes, that was in training camp that year.
Q: How tough was Donald Driver?
TB: I'll tell you what. Donald [Driver] is a pretty explosive and strong player. He catches the ball really well with his hands. I think you guys have seen him play a couple times here in the Monday Night games against Dallas. He makes outstanding plays. [He's] able to accelerate and he knows how to get open. It was a tough task to go up against him and hold him down to one catch like that. Like Bill said, I kind of surprised myself a little bit. When you play guys like that you know that they are going to make some catches and make some plays. That game, he just wasn't able to get going. Maybe it wasn't all me. Maybe it was him a little bit, but he just couldn't get going. Like Bill said it was probably one of the proudest moments of my career as a defensive back in the league.
Q: Did it mean a lot to you that the coaching staff trusted you with that assignment?
TB: Definitely. I know Bill's [Belichick] not going to… He wouldn't have put me on the field if he felt like it was going to be a detriment to his team. You know how Bill is. He's not going to play a guy if a guy says he can play and Bill doesn't think he can play. He's not going to put him on the field. He's not going to jeopardize the success of the rest of the team for the success of one or two guys. When he put me out there, I said, 'He must really believe that I can get this job done'. Or he just didn't have another choice, or something. He was just like, 'You've got to play.' But it turned out good. Having that confidence in me, knowing Bill, that really meant a lot to me. Knowing that he believed that I was smart enough and capable enough to go out there and help the football team win some games.
Q: Troy, did you ever look at players who played their whole career with one team, even before you started thinking about retirement, and say that is something that I'd like to do? Or, did you understand that guys like [Joe] Namath, even [Brett] Favre now, have the desire to play for another team and maybe stretch it out for another year?
TB: I always thought about playing with the same team. It was something that was on my mind for a long time. Being able to stay here and finish up my career, especially once I started getting out a little more, doing some charity work, doing some other business ventures. I just kind of got planted here. It's tough to pick up and move, leave the area and get started somewhere else. More than anything I love playing for this team. I love playing for the organization and the way that Mr. Kraft has gone about running this team. You hear so many horror stories about organizations not taking care of their players and guys are just out for their own. They have guys working out in trailers. You have guys meeting in barns and you hear about all that stuff and, in some places, that was the case. Some guys just didn't have the facilities and they didn't really care about how comfortable the players were. Here, it's been pretty comfortable. [We've] got one of the best digs in there to get dressed in. You walk out of the back and go to the practice field now. You guys know where I was when, I don't know if any of you guys were here, I am getting old. What happened to all the Kevin Mannix and all those guys that used to be around? You had to drive. You had to drive to practice when I got here, for what? Six, seven, eight years, whatever it was. It was a nightmare having to get in your car drive over there, get stopped by the train, get fined 50 dollars by [Bill] Parcells for being late because the train was coming. It was tough coming in here. You had the horses and buggies running around the track and horse poop and all this stuff. Now, you look out there and see what [Robert Kraft]'s done with this place. It's quite amazing. He made it pretty comfortable to be here.
Q: Talk about the transformation from playing with this team when they were struggling to win to seeing it now?
TB: I think I got a little bit of a taste even though [Bill] Parcells was already here as the new [coach]. He had started to make that transition over to being a winning organization but you could still see reminisce of the team, the way it used to be and the struggles they had to win. Then Mr. Kraft came in and you could really see the team turn the corner. It all started with the players. Trying to make situations better for the players, serving players breakfast in the morning - something we didn't get our first year. Getting lunch and now we get three meals a day. I don't have any food in my house if my family's not here. I didn't have to leave, you come in and they can make you a waffle in the mornings, get fresh omelets and scrambled eggs, whatever cereal you want and fruit. Any time of the day you can go in there and eat. I think it started with that, starting to take care of the players more. I think Mr. Kraft realized that if you take care of the players they're going to give it back to you. I think that was part of the big turn in the whole situation and obviously getting [Bill] Belichick to come back here and coach this football team, which a lot of people doubted. He didn't have a lot of success in Cleveland and there are a lot of things that go with that success. Nobody knew what his front office situation was. Nobody knew if he was calling the shots, if he was bringing in the players. I don't know a lot about the coaching business but it's tough. I do remember the whole Parcells thing, about shopping for the groceries or whatever between him and Mr. Kraft. That's the nature of this business but when you get a chance to go out there, get your players, you put them in the right position and you get them to win, teach them how to win, it makes big difference. I think bringing [Bill] Belichick back in here, teaching football the way he knows how to teach it and the way he knows how to play it - he's been around the game for 30-plus years. I think he's somebody you need to listen to when it comes to learning the game of football. He did a great job of getting the right type of players that he wanted to coach and putting it all together and teaching. He taught the game of football. He didn't just put us out on the field and say 'run this play.' He taught us the game of football, taught us the way he wanted it done and it ended up being, and still is, quite successful.
Q: If you love football so much why did you retire? (Asked by his son)
TB: It's something that's out of my control. I would love to keep playing but there comes a time when the man upstairs called God, you can't out run him as much as you try to and want to. He just catches up to you and tells you that you're 37 years old. You're knee is supposed to be hurting. You're hip is not in great shape. You can't run as fast as you used to. There's a bunch of 22-year-old guys out there that are taking your place. I'm no longer 22 and in this game. There are very few places for guys that are 37 years old. Therefore, you have to move on and create other goals and things to achieve and you try to push on and achieve those things. It's a sad day for me too. I saw you out there crying for me and I love you and it's going to be ok. Daddy's still going to be around football and he still loves football. If you want to play football he'll come watch you play and teach you how to play too. As long as you don't get mad at him when I coach you too hard and when I get on you too hard. That's just a part of the game. You get older and you're not able to keep up as well as you used to. Therefore you have to leave the game. I've got more time too sit down and watch it with you, whenever you want to. That's what happens.