TB: First of all, I thank each and every one of you for being here. I do appreciate it. I definitely want to say thank you to the many fans that voted and put me in this position. You guys feel free to fire away whenever you're ready.
Q: When you look at this accomplishment and honor, do you get a little bit nostalgic for how things started for you with the Patriots? It's been almost a 20-year association you've had with the team now.
TB: Yeah, somewhat. You look back on it - and I always look back on it - where I started from and how shaky things were and how unsure things were for me for a long time wearing that Patriots uniform. I think it was like seven years in there where it was always pretty unstable for me. I look back on it now and I realize now how much the fans really did appreciate what I was doing when, at times, it seemed like some other people around the organization didn't seem to realize that. When it comes down to it, I always played hard for my teammates and played hard for my coaches no matter who it was and ownership and you really wanted to go out there and make our fans happy. I think that now that I realize how much they appreciated the way I played the game, it does make me feel really good.
Q: How would you rate yourself on the basis of natural ability? When you think of Hall of Fame, you think of supremely talented players. Where would you put yourself there?
TB: I was always athletic. I didn't have some of the skills that you see a lot of the athletes have. I could jump, I was quick, I could catch and all those types of things, but when it came to just flat out speed, that was something I had to work really hard at. I got better and I got faster and I think it showed. When I hit 28, 29 years old - I was probably 30 years old - I was running my best times ever in the 40-yard dash. That worked out in my favor. Maybe I don't have all the things that you would think a guy my size would have, but I think I read some quotes from Bill [Belichick] and it's kind of hard to make up for some of those things, but when you have the heart and determination to go out there and get something done and you go out there and you play the game like you love it, you can make up for a lot of things that you don't have.
Q: Did that make it more satisfying that you were able to do that?
TB: Oh yeah. I've loved football since I was a very tiny kid. I always figured out ways to be successful at it. Since I played Pee Wee Football, I always seemed to be on a team and surrounded with good people and good coaches. I was always able to go out and find a way to win games and that just came along with me. It's just a part of who I am; you always find a way to get things done. It does, it makes me feel really good to know that I had to continue to work to make myself better and continue to work to convince other people who were evaluating me that I deserved to be on their football team. Thank God for Bill Belichick, Charlie Weis and all those guys that gave me an opportunity there to be a starter in the NFL. It worked out for me and it worked out for them too, so definitely a big thank you to them also.
Q: When you retired, did you think that something like this, getting into the Patriots Hall of Fame, was only a matter of time?
TB: Yeah, those are things that kind of cross your mind from time to time. I'm not one that's big on accolades and all those things and praise. I did my job and I'm proud of what I did and how I did it. As a player, you get to see all those things: I saw Stanley Morgan go in, I saw Ben Coates go in and all those guys go into the [Patriots] Hall of Fame, Bruce Armstrong. Yeah, you think about all those things because I see it, I played with some of those guys and you're able to see them go in there. When you walk into the Hall of Fame and see the displays in there and all those things - and me not being a person who's big on all those types of things, when you see somebody's personal stuff hanging up in there, yeah it does make you feel special and you want to be a part of that. Any human being would want to be a part of it, so it did cross my mind once I was done playing that maybe one day I would get to go back there and be in the Hall of Fame along with some of the greatest Patriots to ever do it, and I'm completely honored to be a part of that group now.
Q: What was the most special moment or special game of your career?
TB: Three Super Bowls, you name them. I was a part quite a few unique games in Patriots history. I can talk about the Snow Bowl there against Oakland [1/19/02] - the Tuck Rule. All those games, the overtime game against the Dolphins [10/19/03] and obviously the three Super Bowl wins we had. Those were great games, big games for us. Even back into 1996, winning that last game against the Giants [12/21/96] to get home field advantage…There're so many special moments and it's kind of hard to put my finger on just one. Maybe the 2006 game against the San Diego Chargers [1/14/07], being able to get the ball back from Marlon McCree there and give us a chance to advance in the playoffs. How about that one?
Q: You had 16 catches in a 2002 [9/22/02] game against the Chiefs and then you got hurt and you probably could have set the NFL record for most receptions in a game had you not gotten hurt. What do you remember about that game, because that would've been something that had put you in the history books?
TB: I remember dropping the very first third-down pass over the middle, like a 16-yard throw and having to leave the field and not feeling very good about myself. From that point on, I think every ball Tom [Brady] threw to me, I think I ended up catching from that point on. It was just one of those games where we were just in a groove and he wasn't even looking for anybody else I don't believe. He was just dropping back and throwing the ball in my direction and we were just hooking up. It was going really good and I took a whack on the knee there with about six or seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter and wasn't able to finish. But I do think with the way things were going in that game and the way we were moving the ball up and down the field that we probably would have broken that record pretty easily, but it wasn't meant to be and those kinds of things happen. I was just happy to get the 16 that I had and be a part of a Patriots record.
Q: What do you think about some of the other nominees for this Hall of Fame process, particularly your coach, Bill Parcells? Do you think he still has a shot to get into the Patriots Hall of Fame?
TB: I do. I think he's very deserving of it, because you look at where this franchise was before Bill Parcells took it over. He's the one that really changed the culture and changed the attitude of the New England Patriots and probably the fans too and gave them a lot of expectations when he took the job here. I think it's going to be a hard climb from here though; there are so many guys who were a part of the Super Bowl teams that are coming up. I think Tedy's [Bruschi] up next year and maybe Rodney [Harrison] or somebody. There are so many different guys that will be coming up over the next few years that it's going to be really, really, really tough for him to get in there, but I think the fans and everybody should really look at it and when you think about what he did for the culture here in the New England area when it comes to football, he really changed the way people looked at the game here in our area.
Q: Is Robert Kraft the one that called you yesterday to let you know that you had been selected? How did that conversation go?
TB: Well, I had a slight problem. My dog chewed my other phone up, so it wasn't working, so he ended up leaving a message on that other phone. I ended up talking to [Patriots Vice President of Media Relations] Stacey James yesterday and he let me know, but I did check Robert's message and of course it was full of praise as usual from him. I definitely have to thank him and his family for helping me get inducted into the Hall of Fame and being a huge part of another accolade that I'm receiving. His wife, I continued to be her favorite player as long as I was on the team and that's one of the biggest memories he has of that. He did leave a great message there in thanking me [for] being such a great part of the organization and I want to return the thanks to him too and his family for all they've done for football, New England, myself, my children and everybody else. It's been a great ride. The Krafts bought the team back in 1994 and couple that with Bill Parcells and then you put Bill Belichick into the mix of things - It's been a great franchise and he's built a great model for so many other teams around the league to look at and look how they do things. All it's produced is winners over the years; they continue to do it year after year, so he's done a wonderful job with this organization.