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Vinny Testaverde Conf. Call Transcript - 9/17/03

**Q: Hello Vinny.

VT:** How we doing?

**Q: It's good talking to you as usual.

VT:** Well thank you. Thank you.

**Q: It's been a lot of years we've talked to you from time to time.

VT:** Yes it has.

**Q: That's one of the things I want to talk to you about. You've had a relationship with [Bill] Belichick in '93 I guess it was. The clock keeps ticking and you seem to keep playing at the high level that you always wanted to play at. How have you been able to do that?

VT:** Well, I guess the main thing is that I've been fortunate that I haven't had many serious injuries. I think the ruptured Achilles in '99 was probably my biggest one and really my only one. Being able to continue and be involved in the offseason workout and staying in shape and conditioned. That's all contributed to me still being able to play after 17 years.

**Q: Is it as much fun now as it has been in the past?

VT:** Absolutely. I was just saying this Monday night on a radio show here. When you do something for so long, I guess you kind of take it for granted and you expect it to be there. And then I was sat down last year; I wasn't playing. I just wanted another opportunity to play. Now because of the unfortunate circumstances with Chad [Pennington] getting hurt, I have that opportunity so I'm excited again. It's unfortunate we started out slow; we are 0-2. But I'm excited about being in there and playing football. The enthusiasm is still there, and I enjoy it.

**Q: You've seen this Patriots team over the years and the rivalry since you've been on the Jets has been an intense one as you know. Certainly the viewpoint here was it was the "Tuna Bowl" and all of the other things. The fact here is it has maintained its momentum. You guys have won five times in a row here.

VT:** Sure. We've been fortunate. It's always a big game and I guess it really got big when Bill [Parcells] left there and came here. But now the other Bill [Belichick] left here and went there. It's still big and it's always a tough fought game. Those guys, looking at them on defense this morning, they look as good as ever.

**Q: People always talk about the Jets now, you were champions last year. There is a lot of talent on that team and a lot of things have happened to it. You lost Laveraneus Coles and all of that offseason stuff, did you replenish it with talent that can still surprise people and still win in this division?

VT:** I really believe we can. Every team has some changes. You guys just lost a great safety just a few weeks ago, so we all have lost some key players from a year ago. And the thing is for the players that are coming in to help us now, be ready to go and help us win those games. Since Herm [Edwards] has been here, we have been a slow starting team for whatever the reason, but we know we are going to continue to get better. We know we have that fight in us. Each guy looks at each other and says, 'Hey, I'm counting on you and I know you are going to play well for the following week.'

**Q: Going back to you own individual performances, I asked Belichick 'What makes Vinny tick?' He has such confidence. What is the difference now, how does he get to this point? He said, 'Vinny can throw any pass at any time any way and because he is a gym rat he stays physically fit.' Is that something you've learned? When you came out of college, were you able to throw a variety of passes anyway, any which way you wanted?

VT:** I always felt like I had a strong arm. I can remember back in junior high school working out, I enjoyed doing it with my friends. Then we had a high school coach that really had the players in the gym working out, out on the field conditioning. So it was part of my lifestyle not just because of football but I enjoyed to do it, and I continued to do that throughout my career. I like to think it's paying off for me. But when it really comes down to quarterbacking it's not about how strong your arm is. It's about getting the guys around you, getting your teammates to play better than they are capable of playing. We try to do that here and we need to get better at some parts of our game and we will continue to work on that.

**Q: The offense, was it changed anyway since now you are back in business?

VT:** No. I can honestly say we haven't changed very much from what we did when Chad was playing last year. All the plays that we have run in the past two games and have been plays that were in our game plans last year. It is hard to just change plays for one guy. Everybody has to learn those plays, so you can't…we practice those plays over and over and everybody is use to it, including myself.

**Q: The running game has been talked about because it hasn't happened, but of course last week you were in a situation where you weren't going to run anyway. So that is kind of skewed. Is the potential there, because any good quarterback needs a good running game?

VT:** Absolutely. We all know that. I'm hoping we can get our running game off the ground this week and have everybody stop talking about our running game, about Curtis Martin. Hopefully we can win this week and get that off our back too.

**Q: The story is the running game this week perhaps. Here it is [Rosevelt] Colvin being out and those kind of things. Can the Patriots get to Vinny? Every week it changes. Do you ever get tired of that part of the game?

VT:** Not really. I think it's all part of it. If you are going to enjoy it, you have to really look at the big picture and all the elements that are involved. And that's what makes it so good for me, so exciting. Because each week it is a little bit different and you don't know what to expect. It's a challenge. It presents itself every week. And you try to figure out how to get the best edge on it.

**Q: When you went to Tampa as a young man, did you ever think you would be going until you were 40-years-old and still playing and starting?

VT:** No not really. I remember one of my teammates down there, we were drafted together, wide receiver Mark Carrier. We came in together. After a few years we would talk and say, 'How many years do you want to play?' And we would say, 'I want to get to the 10 year mark and then maybe I'll retire.' Both of us left Tampa at the same time and went to Cleveland. And we would kid each other there a little bit about how long we are going to play still. He wound up play for 12 or 13 years and here I am still playing. So, I've always said as long as I feel I can contribute to my team winning, as long as I'm healthy and as long as I'm enjoying it, I'm going to play.

**Q: What benefit is it to you to have played this part of your career near your hometown?

VT:** I guess if there is one special moment, if I can freeze time, it would be that '98 season. Having played here at home and him hearing about it from all of his friends, because he didn't really watch any of the games because of his condition with his heart. But his friends would tell him how great we were doing and how great his son was doing, so that meant a lot to me. Other than that playing at home, I enjoy it, but it is not really what most people would think, because when you do bad, everyone tells you about it. And for me, I don't really listen to the radio or read the papers. I kind of block those things out. But again when you are home, all your family and friends might tell you about the bad things, so that is the negative. But it definitely has it's upside to.

**Q: People could simply look at the birth date and say that the Jets are using a 40-year-old starting quarterback, that's not the position you want to be in. Do you feel in the NFL now that the original birth date is less of a factor? You've got guys on the Patriots like Larry Centers who is a big part of their situation, Anthony Pleasant, Rick Lyle, Otis Smith last year. Is age as much of a factor as maybe it use to be?

VT:** My thinking is this: When I first came into the league, guys still had part time jobs in the offseason. They weren't working out all year round like we do now. As I played in the league, after a number of years, guys started to realize how important the offseason program was, how important working out was, and their conditioning. So now they are able to play better at a later age, later in their career.

**Q: Do you think there is any bias? Any you aren't really experiencing it I suppose, considering how much Herm Edwards has put into you and Belichick talks like you are 25…

VT:** (laughter) I wish I was.

**Q: There is an existing bias that these teams have to put into play and say, 'Okay this guys 30 we have to start watching his production.'

VT:** Well I think you watch everybody's production. I think when a player gets a little older, you look to see what he might not be doing as well and then blame it on the age aspect. It's hard to pinpoint anything specifically right now without talking about one specific player, but there might be a little bit of that.

**Q: When you are 31 years old, it is not nearly as excused as it is at 27?

VT:** At what age, I'm not real sure. I guess it all depends on what the guy did the year before. Maybe 33, 34 years old, and depending on what position you play too.

**Q: Has their been any type of adjustments, minor or major, with you taking over for Chad? Are their things that you do better, or things that Chad did better, that necessitated change when you took over?

VT:** We have not changed a whole lot of things. Obviously there are some things that Chad has done better than I would do, and vice versa. But the plays that we have practiced from Day One when this coaching staff arrived here, we are continuing to practice. And that's including both Chad and I. So we're not going to change, we're not going to get away from what we've practiced for the last three years. Now, when you go into a game each week, you look at the defense and try to come up with some schemes that you can hopefully take advantage of. But we don't get away from what we've practiced, our base, our core stuff.

**Q: I realize that you do a great job of keeping yourself in great shape, but could you just talk about what the differences are physically as a young quarterback as opposed to a guy who is on the cusp of 40?

VT:** I think the one thing you can ask any older player, I remember saying when I was a rookie after a game I would feel better by Tuesday. After about four, five years, I would feel better by Wednesday. After about eight or ten years, I would feel better by Thursday. Now, when you are in a rough game, a physical game, you are just about feeling better by the time the next Sunday rolls around. I think that's the difference.

**Q: Vinny, it's a pleasure talking to you as usual.

VT:** Thank you very much.

**Q: You take care.

VT:** It was nice to talk to you. Bye-bye.

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