Patriots third round draft pick (97th overall) Tyrone McKenzie addresses the New England media during his conference call on Sunday, April 26, 2009.
TM:Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Q:Were you surprised at all that you were taken by the Patriots?
TM:You know, it's a crazy experience. This whole draft thing has been really crazy for me. When the Patriots took me, I had a feeling. I had a great experience with Coach [Matt] Patricia and Coach [Bill] Belichick and all the guys there. The entire staff there are people that are part of a great enterprise. So when they picked me, I was just happy in the end and just exhausted. Now, I can get a good night's rest.
Q:When you say that you had a great experience, what do you mean by that?
TM:When I was up there, me and Coach Belichick had sat down and talked. I also sat down and talked to the linebackers coach [Patricia] and talking to everybody in the office. I had a great time up there and Boston is a great city. I love how Foxborough is just a little bit outside the city so you know that fans can come out there whatever time it is, they can come out there and get ready for the Patriots.
Q:Just reading your bio, it seemed like you put family obligations above your own career. Can you just kind of take us through how you had to leave Iowa State to go home?
TM:There was a situation with my family, which led to my mother getting divorced from her husband, who was my stepfather at the time. So it was a tough time. I've always continued to play football no matter where I've been. I continued to send video out to wherever I've been to play football. It was my passion for the game. My family has been a huge part of my life because without them I wouldn't be in the situation I'm in right now.
Q:When you left Michigan State that was to go back and take care of your mom? She had been in some sort of accident. Is that correct?
TM:Yeah, that is correct. I had come back and stayed at home for a semester, which would have been the '05 spring semester. I worked at a Hampton Inn down the street, working from 11 at night until seven in the morning just to help my mother out with the bills. At the same time, I was training during the day because I wanted to get back into college football.
Q:Does that make you appreciate football more, having had a real world job like that?
TM:Exactly. Once you go through a situation like that, it's huge. It helps you mature as a man. All through this whole process, I've been hanging out with different guys that were going through the same draft process. I could see how much more mature I was from a lot of my competition. So that really helped me be a man and it let me really realize that it can be here today and gone tomorrow. At the same time, I don't want to go back to working at a Hampton Inn.
Q:If you don't mind me asking, what actually happened with your mom? I heard that she had a business too and that had to be shut down. What happened with the accident?
TM:Basically, she had to have a couple of surgeries on her wrists and on her ankles because of the accident. That basically shut down her entire business. It was a car accident to be exact. That shut down her entire business, her home day care service.
Q:How familiar are you with the Patriots, their background and Coach Belichick?
TM:I'm pretty familiar with them. I've been a sports fan my entire life. The Patriots are the No. 1 team. When I was a kid, I was a huge Steelers fan at that time, back when they had [Kevin] Greene and Greg Lloyd and all those guys. But you know what? I've been a huge Patriots fan ever since my name came across that board. They've done a lot of great things in the past. Every year, New England, they keep getting better and better. I think you keep in mind the fact that it's not just the players, but just the entire organization, from the person at the front desk when you first walk in to the person in the back that caters for the team. Everyone is the same way — they want to get at it and win. That's the thing about them, they win. That's something that I feel blessed to be a part of.
Q:I know you said that you never wanted to go back a Hampton Inn. What exactly were you doing there? What was some of the responsibilities and duties that you had there?
TM:I was working the front desk. I was working the night shift, in the morning, working the front desk, checking in people late at night. Being that late, it was just kind of boring and you get kind of tired from a shift there working at the desk. I was hoping every hour and half [hour] for someone to check in at night.
Q:How did you stay in shape for football working that shift?
TM:I worked out at a local gym. I worked out there in high school. I had a trainer at the time so I worked with him once a week. Then the other four days of my workout of the week, I was on my own. One thing about me, I've always had a strong work ethic. Coming up from where I came from, my high school [Riverview (Fla.) High] was in a small town, a small-town high school that I think it had been just under 10 years that it had been opened. I broke my leg in my junior year of high school so most of my recruitment for college came my senior year. So I fought my way back from my leg injury from my junior year and I had a tremendous year my senior year. Breaking my leg really taught me how to work hard and how to put everything into a bucket and work for it and you can accomplish your goals.
Q:It said in your bio that you played multiple positions at linebacker and different jobs. Can you describe some of the things you were asked to do at South Florida?
TM:Throughout my career when I was at South Florida, I played all three positions at linebacker. My sophomore year, when I was at Iowa State, I played middle linebacker. Playing all of those positions was huge because our defensive coordinator, who was also our linebackers coach, Coach Wally Burnham, he was basically saying, "If you want to play, you have to have knowledge of the game. You have to know what you're going to do. If you don't have knowledge of the game, you're going to have to sit a year or so." So I knew what I was going to do, I knew what the person beside me was going to do because on one series I would be playing Sam and then I'd go to the sideline and they'd say, "OK, we need you to play Mike now." So it was good, I think, playing all the positions there because that's what we had. It was a game-time decision.
Q:Did that knowledge come into play with all those tackles behind the line that you had?
TM:Exactly. If you know what you're going to do before your opponent does, that's huge. A couple of times on my tackles last season were just knowing what's going to happen before it happens.
Q:How tough was it for you to leave Michigan State? And No. 2, do you feel it actually benefited you because you had a great reason to explain why you ended up at three schools?
TM:Yeah, for me to get the chance to sit down with coach and explain my situation, to let them know that it's not a big deal. Obviously, teams are going to do a background check on me. So it's not a problem with me. I was just to get my situation across and let them know that, "Hey, things have happened." But it's made me the better man that I am today.