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Rodney Harrison on MFB: ‘When you play for the Patriots, you’re the most hated team in the NFL’

01.28.15 at 2:42 pm ET
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NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison stopped by Middays with MFB to talk about the state of the Patriots. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Harrison touched on the fact that the Patriots are one of the most hated, if not the most hated, team in the NFL, adding that the recent success of the franchise among other things are not conducive to drawing in many outside sympathizers.

“It’s just one of those things,” he said. “When you play for the Patriots, you’re the most hated team in the league because you’ve had success, because they don’t like the personality of Bill Belichick, because they don’t like the pretty boy Tom Brady. They don’t like guys like us that are prepared, that are smart, that go out there and take care of business. I heard other coaches and GMs coming out talking trash. we beat you because we out-prepared you, we’re smarter than you and we’re more physical than you.”

Harrison said that the back-to-back championships are probably what started turning people off of New England and that Belichick and the players didn’t really help the cause either.

“[Belichick] wasn’t really engaging, he was kind of moody and grumpy and that type of guy, and he kind of controlled the media, and they didn’t like that,” he said. “But also the players. We were hard-working guys, we were very humble, but yet we had an arrogance about us because we knew we were smart.

“We knew we were good, and people didn’t like that.”

But the fact that so many people hate the Patriots might actually be good for them, Harrison said, because it makes them form an “us against the world” mentality.

“It’s all part of it,” he said. “I think when you play for the Patriots, you automatically know from day one that you’re going to be on the most hated team. I think the players embrace that, it’s us against the world and you don’t really worry about the outside influences, and that’s what [Belichick] would always tell us. He says, “Hey guys, you worry about what people say inside this locker room, you don’t worry about the outside.’ “

Read More: Bill Belichick, Rodney Harrison,

Stanford teammate Cameron Fleming: Richard Sherman is a ‘very entertaining person’

01.28.15 at 2:42 pm ET
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Richard Sherman is ready to take on Tom Brady again in the Super Bowl. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Richard Sherman was teammates with Cameron Fleming at Stanford for one season. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

CHANDLER, Ariz. — Aside from Brandon Browner and Alan Branch, who played with Richard Sherman in Seattle, no one on the Patriots knows the Seattle cornerback better than rookie offensive lineman Cameron Fleming.

Fleming red-shirted the year Sherman was still at Stanford so he spent a year around the team before Sherman was drafted by the Seahawks in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft.

“I guess he was always like he is now,” said Fleming. “He’s a very entertaining person, I guess. Very confident.”

Sherman earned his undergraduate degree in communications at Stanford and returned for another season to get his Masters. The cornerback actually started at Stanford as a wide receiver before switching to the other side of the ball for his final two seasons.

His most memorable moment may have come after last year’s NFC championship game when he went off during an interview with Erin Andrews on the FOX broadcast. Fleming said that wasn’t a surprise to see.

“No, I mean he’s definitely a passionate player and when you catch someone right after the game in the heat of the moment things like that are going to coming out,” Fleming said. “I can’t say I am surprised.”

Even though Fleming is an offensive lineman, he can appreciate how good of a player Sherman is.

“From all reports he’s a very, very good corner,” said Fleming. “One of the best in the league obviously. He’s an All-Pro, Pro Bowler for a couple of years now. He’s definitely doing well.”

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Cameron Fleming, Richard Sherman, Super Bowl XLIX

Vince Wilfork says he would ‘take family over football any day’

01.28.15 at 2:32 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork has his sights set on his second Super Bowl ring. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Vince Wilfork has his sights set on his second Super Bowl ring. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

CHANDLER, Ariz. — This may be the Super Bowl but Vince Wilfork speaks like a man with perspective.

Asked Wednesday about how he keeps things together in his busy life, Wilfork said finding the right balance is the key to everything.

“It benefits me because it keeps everything in perspective for me,” Wilfork said. “I wouldn’€™t have football if it wasn’€™t for my faith or my family. That’€™s one of the things that I always lean on when things get rough, when things get tired, when I really don’€™t want to practice, have got to do this, when my body is feeling like this. (If) I have a bad day at work, I go home and see my family. My kids, they’€™re so innocent. The only thing they want to do is play, they want to tell me about school.”

Perspective and perseverance is something Wilfork has been through a lot this year, overcoming an Achilles injury from 2013 and pulling a trapped woman from an overturned SUV after the AFC championship.

“It kind of puts everything in perspective when you look at it because no matter what I’€™m going through in life, I can always go home and have that feeling that I’€™m not a loser or that I’€™m not this or I’€™m not that. And that’€™s the luxury of having a good family. That is one thing I cherish the most.

“Everybody who knows me knows how I feel about my family. I would take family over football any day. My family and faith, I would take it over football any day. But I’€™m lucky to be at the level I’€™m at just because of what I’€™ve accomplished just because of my family and my faith and being dedicated to what I do and that’€™s football. Without them, I wouldn’€™t be who I am and I understand that and I cherish those moments with my family and my faith and my friends. I cherish all of that.”

Read More: New England Patriots, Super Bowl XLIX, Vince Wilfork,

Brian Billick on MFB: Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick ‘are the same guy’

01.28.15 at 2:05 pm ET
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NFL Network analyst and former Ravens coach Brian Billick joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to share his insight on the similarities between the Seahawks and the Patriots and to discuss Deflategate. To heard the full interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

As a former head coach, Billick’s main area of interest in the Super Bowl is the coaches Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick. He said that the teams overall line up very well in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, however many there are, but that the coaching matchup is pretty similar as well.

“These two coaches,” he said, “were the boy geniuses, crashed and burned in their first jobs, were humbled, came back, put themselves in a position, both great defensive minds, both true head coaches.

“You’ve got two coaches, although brilliant defensive coaches, that are true head coaches in the true sense of the word.”

Billick pointed out that even though Carroll is viewed as more of a player’s coach, that’s just the result of perception, noting that his demeanor is what gives off that impression, not his actions.

“Pete and Bill are the same guy,” he said. “The difference is Pete is California cool, Joe Cool, and Bill, we know, is physically in pain any time he has to talk to anybody in the media or stand in front of a microphone, physically in pain.

“Both are absolutely ruthless when it comes to orchestrating a team, demanding from a team, and as much as he’s the ‘player’s coach,’ no one has turned the personnel over more than Pete Carroll and [GM] John Schneider,” Billick added. “If you can’t get the job done, ‘Hey, I love you man, let’s have a beer afterwards, but your ass is out of here,’ and both are ruthless that way. They just have different ways, they appear from the outside to do it differently.”

Not having a capable quarterback at the helm is what Billick cites as some reasons why Belichick and Carroll may have, as he put it, crashed and burned earlier in their coaching careers. But since they got their guys and have developed as coaches, it makes sense that they’re succeeding.

“If you go back to Bill and Pete in the early years, it’s real simple. They didn’t have the quarterback,” he said. “And it sounds like I’m being disrespectful, but I’m not in any way shape or form. You fall into Tom Brady in the sixth round, and Pete, remember now he was 7-9, 7-9. He gave up a second-round draft choice for [Charlie] Whitehurst, he’d thrown money at Matt Flynn, and they took Russell Wilson in the third round and hit gold.

“And beyond the fact that obviously you grow with the position, you learn, they’re obviously better coaches than they were when they came into it the second time, in Pete’s case, the third time, but the idea that, and that doesn’t mean they weren’t good coaches without them, but you either have that guy or you don’t. If you don’t, you miss out on a first-round quarterback, as much as I’m enjoying this, you’re talking to ‘EEI radio on Super Bowl week instead of coaching a team.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Brian Billick, Pete Carroll,

Rob Gronkowski says people ‘underestimate’ how serious he takes football

01.28.15 at 1:57 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski said Wednesday people underestimate how serious he takes football. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski said Wednesday people underestimate how serious he takes football. (Elsa/Getty Images)

CHANDLER, Ariz. — Rob Gronkowski is a kid at heart.

The 25-year-old star tight end is as outgoing as anyone, always wanting to talk and laugh with anyone who will listen and does more charitable events than anyone on the team.

Because of his personality, Gronkowski sometimes gets a bad rap that he doesn’t take football as serious as he should.

Gronkowski responded to those people on Wednesday.

“I feel like they underestimate the hard work and dedication behind the scenes for everyone,” Gronkowski said. “Just going in the weight room when it’€™s your time to work out, the meetings behind the scenes, the practicing during the week. I mean, I feel like some people just look at it like you go out there on game day and play, but that’€™s not really the case.

“You always have to be taking care of your body throughout the whole week, in the morning and all the way through nighttime, getting sleep. So, people kind of underestimate the hard work and dedication that goes into the week to get prepared for the games on Sunday.”

Julian Edelman says it’s rare but occasionally Gronk will actually reach that next level of anger.

“There’s only a few times when you when you see him angry,” Edelman said. “I can’t put it down on a spot when it was. When he gets angry, it’s scary. He’s a big guy that’s strong, powerful and he’s like a big old baby. But once you tick him off, you better get out of the way.”

His work ethic was shown this past offseason as Gronkowski suffered a torn ACL in a December game and was ready to go for the team’s first day of training camp this past summer and was active for Week 1 of the regular season. That injury wasn’t his first major injury either, as he’s battled back and elbow injuries over the course of his career.

“I’€™ve been through a lot, for sure,” said Gronkowski. “They’€™re all the worst. You never want to be injured, no doubt. You always want to be out on the field with your teammates. I really don’€™t have one that I’€™ve played with like bad — I just go out there and play. Every time I step out onto the field I’€™m ready to go.”

With that being said, Gronkowski still takes some time to let loose and have some fun, which sometimes gets criticized in the media.

So, why is it made such a big deal when he goes out and parties?

“€œBecause I’€™m a baller? Is that a good answer?” he said.

Edelman was asked if he were excluded from Gronk’s “Party Bus” since Gronk said there were “no dudes allowed” on it.

“Nah. I don’t think that means teammates,” Edelman said. “He’s a beaut. He’s a beaut. There are so many funny things that guy does. It’s unbelievable. I look at him right now and I laugh, just the way he answers questions. He’s a funny guy.”

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Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Rob Gronkowski, Super Bowl XLIX,

Tom Brady battling cold, but will be ‘100 percent’ for Super Bowl

01.28.15 at 1:05 pm ET
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Tom Brady revealed he's battling a cold on Wednesday. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Tom Brady revealed he’s battling a cold on Wednesday. (Elsa/Getty Images)

CHANDLER, Ariz. — Tom Brady spoke for 45 minutes Wednesday morning as part of the Patriots’ media availability at their team hotel.

His voice sounded like he was stuffed and Brady revealed he is battling a bit of a cold.

“I’ve had it for four or five days,” said Brady. “My kids got sick and my wife is pretty sick right now. I brought it unfortunately to Phoenix but I’ll be fine. I’ll be good. I’ll be 100 percent. I’m not worried about it at all.”

“It’s been lingering, so I’m just trying to get some rest,” he added. “A lot of garlic, old remedies, everything I can.”

The quarterback acknowledged Brandon Browner, who played with the Seahawks last season, has talked with the offense about what Seattle does on defense and Brady seems like he knows the Seahawks well.

“I feel like I know these guys pretty well,” Brady said. “I know how they play. I got a lot of respect for the way they play and they got good players and a great scheme and they got very good coaching.”

The last time the Patriots played a Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona they lost to the Giants to ruin their undefeated 2007 season. Brady doesn’t want to look back to that game, but certainly hopes the results are different this time around.

“I wish that game would have ended differently, but we didn’€™t make enough plays that day,” Brady said. “It’€™s good to be back here and have the opportunity to play in this game. We’€™re playing against a great team. Like I said, it’€™s not where you play — it’€™s how you play. I think if we want to win this game, we’€™ve got to go play really well.”

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Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Super Bowl XLIX, Tom Brady,

Shane Vereen beats Richard Sherman in Madden 15 showdown between Patriots, Seahawks

01.28.15 at 12:51 pm ET
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CHANDLER, Ariz. –€” Shane Vereen pulled off the first win of the week for the Patriots over the Seahawks on Tuesday night, as he bested Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in a New England-Seattle showdown in Madden 15.

When it comes to taking a page out of his playbook as it relates to the real thing on Sunday, however, Vereen said he won’€™t be giving Bill Belichick any advice.

“Don’€™t beat them the way I did in Madden,”€ he said with a smile on Wednesday morning. “I tried some very. very risky things. Some of them worked, some of them didn’€™t work. But it was a fun event –€” you can’€™t take anything away from it. I just think Sunday, we’€™re going to have to play our game, and we’€™re going to have to play tough.”

Vereen was asked if No. 34 got a lot of the carries against Seattle.

“No, because they didn’€™t update the roster,”€ he replied with mock anger. “I tried to force-feed myself the few times I was in, but you can only do so much.”

Read More: Richard Sherman, Shane Vereen, Super Bowl XLIX,

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