|01.30.12 at 12:06 pm ET|
Branch was emotional after the victory over the Ravens in the AFC championship game, and he explained his feelings.
“I’m a very passionate guy,” Branch said. “I love playing this game. I’m very honored to be back. I truly appreciate the opportunity that this organization gave me, Mr. [Robert] Kraft, coach [Bill] Belichick. Those are the guys that drafted me. Those are the guys that asked for me to come back — ‘Hey, we want you back.’ ‘Trust me, I want to be back.’ I’m very thankful for the opportunity.
“Also, just to share this moment with these guys. Because you’ve got to realize, this might not happen again. It may never happen again. And I think we all as professionals need to embrace that. It’s an honor to be a part of this one event. The entire world [is watching]. And not only just speaking about us, but with all the time that we put together, we sometimes forget about our families. This is their moment, too. That’s the stuff I’ll be thinking about.”
Branch was asked about comments from critics such as Cris Carter, who last year questioned Branch’s reliability in big games despite Branch’s rank as the third-most prolific receiver in Super Bowl history.
“Trust me, I’ve been doubted my entire life, and I’m still standing. So, I thank them for doing that. That helps me. Does it motivate me? No, I don’t use that as motivation? I use my family for my motivation. I don’t need to sit back and listen to what this guy says, that guy, to motivate me.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s game, Branch said it will come down to execution.
“We have a lot of time, so there’s no excuses for us not to be prepared,” he said. “It’s just all about now going out and executing our plays. The coaches will have the right plays. Coach Belichick will make sure that we’re fully prepared to play the game. Now, it’s all about executing the plays.”
|01.30.12 at 12:03 pm ET|
CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about how much of a role Rob Gronkowski‘s injury will play in the Super Bowl, what this game means to both Eli Manning and Tom Brady‘s legacy, and why it’s not likely that Peyton Manning will be a Colt next season.
‘Last Friday if you would have asked me, I would’ve picked the Giants to win,’ Esiason said. ‘I really would have because of the way they played and the fact that they were really playing extremely well in the last five games. They had the much tougher road to get to the Super Bowl.”
Added Esiason: ‘What gives me pause is the extra two weeks, and you know coach [Bill] Belichick: He’s smart, he gets it, he understands what’s going on. I don’t necessarily know that there’s a coach in the history of this league that has a better pulse of his team. … This is one of the best game managers I have ever seen as a coach. He’s going to have to be on his game. He’s really going to have to be on his game.
‘And I still can’t believe, and this is not a knock against the Patriots, I can’t believe that they’re favored. I can’t believe it, because the NFC was a much better conference this year. the Giants went on the road, they beat some really good teams, Eli has been really, really solid through the postseason and the last couple of games of the regular season, and they’re just flying high and they’re healthy and they have everybody back. It’s shocking to me that the Giants are not the favorites in this game.’
Esiason, who suffered two high ankle sprains similar to the one that Gronkowski incurred in the game against the Ravens, said that the injury could be a game-changing factor, because even if Gronkowski plays, he isn’t likely to be 100 percent.
“If they would have played yesterday, there would have been no way he would have been on the field,” Esiason said.
Added Esiason: “When you have 90 catches during the year, 50 catches during the playoffs and you become an uncoverable tool and weapon that Tom Brady has, that is a significant, significant loss.”
|01.30.12 at 8:26 am ET|
The Patriots have their first touchdown in Indianapolis, this one of the most literal sort, as the Super Bowl-bound Patriots were feted in Foxborough before boarding a plane for their weeklong business trip.
“We wish we could take all of you guys to Indy with us,” Tom Brady told the crowd, though evidently, the team was unable to find a plane capable of bringing the roughly 25,000 fans, the team members and all of the equipment to the big game.
Incidentally, in his extensive interview on the Dennis & Callahan show on Monday morning, Brady said that given the need to find tickets and hotels for approximately 40 family members and friends, the Super Bowl will be a money-losing proposition for him even if he gets a cut of the winner’s share of approximately $88,000.
“That’s OK,” he said.
Today’s coverage on WEEI.com:
— Brady’s interview with Dennis & Callahan was reflective, revealing and fascinating. A transcript is here. You can also listen to the interview on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page after it re-airs at 9:20 am EST on Monday.
— More on Brady, as Kirk Minihane notes that the possibility that the Patriots quarterback can cement his place as the greatest quarterback in NFL history is near the top of the list of the four most interesting storylines for the game.
— Bill Belichick, stand-up comic? The coach’s demeanor was so jovial upon his arrival in Indianapolis — during his initial press conference, he joked about his infamous decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 in a game against the Colts in 2009 — that receiver Wes Welker was left to wonder what had happened to the dour man in the hoodie. Mike Petraglia has more. Read the rest of this entry »
|01.30.12 at 7:00 am ET|
In a wide-ranging interview on the Dennis & Callahan show that aired Monday morning, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said that he is mindful that he may never have the opportunity to compete in a Super Bowl after Sunday’s game against the Giants. He noted that great teams (he cited the 2010 Patriots and this season’s Packers squads) can get bounced at any stage of the playoffs, thus offering him a reminder of the need to appreciate the opportunity that he has at hand in Super Bowl XLVI.
“I thought about [the possibility of never playing in another Super Bowl] the other day, because we haven’t been there for four years,” Brady said. “Last year, I thought we had a great team, and we lose in the divisional round of the playoffs. Green Bay had a pretty damn good team this year, and they lost in the divisional round. You can have a great team. You need some things to go your way, too. Ultimately, the thing we can control is playing good.
“I’m not taking this for granted. I’m enjoying every second of it. The opportunity to play this game, to represent the Patriots, I don’t take that for granted,” Brady added. “It’s hard to get to this game. To do it five times, it’s crazy. You don’t take it for granted.
Brady touched on several other topics, including his relationship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, his increasing inability to be social in public settings, whether he truly felt (as he has suggested before) that he “sucked” in the AFC championship game against the Ravens, and how he views the matchup against the Giants in the Super Bowl.
A transcript of the conversation is below. To listen to the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
When you were in high school, did you have any idea that your career would turn out like this?
Certainly not. You have goals and things as an athlete. I was never the greatest athlete. Even throughout high school, there were so many other guys who were potential Division 1–caliber athletes. I really didn’t start growing into my body.
I always tried to work hard. That came from my parents. To finally have the opportunity to go to Michigan, I was like the seventh guy on the depth chart when I got there. Even that was a dream. I didn’t even know anything about Michigan other than the helmets. To have a chance to go there and, wow, you’re seventh on the depth chart, I didn’t know if I would ever get an opportunity there. Finally I get an opportunity in my fourth year. Then you play, and going into your fifth year, I thought I did a decent job and then no one picks you and you’re like, man!
You don’t get invited to the Senior Bowl. I played in the Shrine Bowl. Gil Brandt was one of the guys who selected me there.
I’ve always felt like I’ve had to work pretty hard for it. It’s pretty cool now these days. Even warming up and running across the field, when I’m running next to Chad Johnson [Ochocinco] and Deion [Branch], these guys were, like, the fastest kids in their high school class, the best athlete on probably every team they’ve ever played on, and here I’m warming up next to those guys. I’m thinking, “Man, at least I can keep up with them a little bit.”
We’ve come a long way. I have so much fun doing what I do. Every day is fun for me.
|01.29.12 at 11:12 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Bill Belichick has been to the Super Bowl twice as an assistant with the New York Giants, once as an assistant to Bill Parcells on the 1996 Patriots and now, five times with the Patriots as the head coach.
Never in the previous seven trips before Sunday’s arrival on the scene here in Indianapolis has he ever looked so calm or at ease.
‘We wonder about that all of the time,” Wes Welker told reporters just after Belichick’s insightful, chatty and downright happy-go-lucky 15-minute session with reporters. “I don’t know if it’s a lady in his life or what the deal is, but he definitely smiles a little more than he used to. But trust me, he is just as hard on us as what he’s been since day one, at least with me. He is on all of the time. He works very hard and tries to put us in the best position to win.’
There were no reported sightings of Belichick’s girl friend, Linda Holliday, on Sunday and she was not with him as he took the stage but he certainly spoke as if he had a spring in his step.
‘It’s nice to be in Indianapolis,” Belichick opened his address at the IUPUI Conference center inside the team hotel. “It’s about the nicest I’ve seen it here in February. It’s an honor to represent the AFC and New England in this game. A tremendous challenge here with the Giants. The Giants are a great football team. They’ve done an outstanding job all year, particularly here at the end of the season. (Giants president and CEO) John Mara and his family ‘ I have a close relationship with them ‘ a lot of respect for their organization. (Giants head coach) Tom (Tom Coughlin) and I are good friends, and we go back quite a ways. He and his staff have done a great job with his football team.”
Belichick was only just beginning.
“They have a lot of good football players, they are well-coached, disciplined and tough,” Belichick continued. “They have played very well over the last five weeks and during the course of the season as well, which we saw plenty of that during the regular season. Looking forward to a good week of work here, a good opportunity to play against another great football team. Hopefully, we will be ready to go on Sunday night. We have a lot of work in front of us. I think our players are obviously excited to be here, looking forward to the challenge and we get to work tomorrow out on the field.”
Asked about the hospitality provided by the City of Indianapolis, Belichick had the line of the day.
‘I never had too much hospitality here until I went for it on fourth-and-2, and since then, I’ve been greeted in a lot more friendly manner than I have in the past,’ Belichick quipped, causing stunned reporters to laugh out loud, their form of applause at a truly witty line and evidence that Belichick is entirely capable of self-depricating humor, even on the sport’s biggest stage. Read the rest of this entry »
|01.29.12 at 8:04 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Patriots receiver Wes Welker spoke Sunday evening like a teammate who was hedging his bet just a little when asked what impact he would feel if Rob Gronkowski were unable to go in Super Bowl XLVI against the Giants, or was significantly limited due to his left ankle injury.
“I know I need to make some plays with those guys out of the game so, they’re definitely an integral part of our offense with everything they do,” Welker said. “If one of them is not in, other guys have to step up and do some things out there. They’ve been great players for us all year and we’re going to continue to lean on them.”
But Welker also made it sound like he and the Patriots fully expect Gronkowski to take the field with his other star tight end teammate Aaron Hernandez next Sunday.
“If he’s out there, he’s a tough kid,” Welker said. “I’m not really too worried about it changing anything we’re going to do offensively. We’re going to have him out there and he’s always a force and I don’t think it’s going to change… what their game plan is going to be.”
|01.29.12 at 7:36 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Speaking at Sunday’s media availability at University Place on the campus of IUPUI, Wes Welker was asked if a victory over the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI would “make up” for the Super Bowl loss four years ago.
“The only thing I’m focused on is winning this game,” Welker said. “Does it take care of what happened? I don’t think so, no, but at the same time I’m not worried about that. What happened, happened and we’ve moved on. The only thing I’m worried about is this game and what we need to do to win this game.”
Welker, who matched a Super Bowl record with 11 receptions in the loss to the Giants, was asked if Bill Belichick has spoken to the team about Super Bowl XLII, a 17-14 Giants win that spoiled New England’s shot at a perfect 19-0 season.
“We haven’t talked about it, this year is this year and we’ve had plenty of games this year to talk about. We’ve had plenty of those,” Welker said.