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Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C: I’d welcome Randy Moss back ‘with open arms’

09.06.11 at 10:28 am ET
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Tom Brady said he would welcome back his good friend Randy Moss (right, during 2009 training camp) if the situation arose. (AP)

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had his weekly phone conversation with Dennis & Callahan Tuesday morning as New England prepares for its opener against the Dolphins next Monday night. Brady discussed a wide range of topics, including whether it would surprise him if he got to play with recently retired wide receiver Randy Moss again.

“Would it surprise me? I mean, you never know in the NFL,” Brady said. “I talked to Randy just before training camp started. I love Randy. He’s one of the greatest receivers in the history of the game, one of the greatest players I’ve ever had a chance to play with, and I love the guy.”

Brady said that he would support a decision to bring Moss back to the league and back to New England.

“Unfortunately, I don’t make personnel decisions,” Brady said. “I’d still have all my friends here. Troy [Brown] would still be here. David Patten would still be here. Deion [Branch] would never have left. a great friend of mine. I’ve seen so many guys move on over the years, and then guys come back. So, who knows? Who knows? You never know what situation we’ll be in here next week, for that matter. … But I love [Moss]. He’s a great friend of mine. If he ever did have the opportunity to come back, I’d certainly welcome him with open arms.”

Following is the transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Is baseball too slow for you these days?

Anything slow is tiresome when you’re sitting there as a spectator. I think that’s why football has been so popular because it’s non-stop action, and even on TV, with all those replays. When you watch baseball, it can be a little slow. I love the game so I enjoy watching it, and I enjoy golf. But there’s nothing worse than slow golf or slow baseball.

Do you think that fines for slow play would fix what ails Major League Baseball?

I think that’s one thing about football that they’re always looking for ways to improve it. Baseball is so traditional, they never want to make changes to anything in baseball.

When you were a catcher, did you run out to the mound every three pitches like [Jason] Varitek does?

No, I didn’t. [Laughs] As a catcher, I was very much like I am as a quarterback. I was an emotional catcher and it was not good when the pitcher shook me off.

You took it personally?

Yeah, because you think you have a pretty good feel for where the batter’s standing in the box and how late he is on pitches.

Did you ever think of doing what Kevin Costner does in “Bull Durham” and tell the batter what pitches are coming  just to show up your pitcher?

[Laughs] No, I didn’t need to do that some days with the some of the guys we had on the mound in high school.

Did you get bulldozed as a catcher?

Yeah, I always loved trying to block the plate, because I was a big kid, I was a big catcher, a 6-foot-4½, 215 pound catcher in high school. There weren’t many kids that were that big. Blocking the plate, or when I played first base, blocking first base when the pitcher threw over, I always enjoyed that. They didn’t move me over too often.

We’ve been discussing the previews that we’ve seen of  “A Football Life: Bill Belichick.” Have you seen the two-minute preview that NFL Films has run?

I haven’t. A few people mentioned they saw it, and they said it looks pretty cool, but I haven’t seen it.

Are you surprised that Bill did this? Because this is so out of the ordinary for him to let us have a peek behind the curtain.

Being around him for a while, and the comment he made to the team, he really has a lot of respect for NFL Films and Ed Sabol and Steve Sabol and what they’ve done for the league. It’s hard when they request something that you don’t agree to it, because you know the level of detail that goes into it, how they produce it, the way that it’s shot, is always to make the NFL come out looking great.

NFL Films is spectacular and whenever they do something, all those Super Bowl videos are incredible, when you watch those and they highlight the season. Even going back to all the old-time NFL Films is so cool. So I think when coach Belichick got the opportunity, he said it was a historic year for him in terms of coaching, it was a historic year for the Patriots; I think it was our 50th year. I think those two things combined, he said, is what helped make the decision a little bit easier for him.

You’re a big part of this, too, as some of the most fascinating parts are the exchanges between you and your coach. Were you consciously aware that a camera was there when you were in this meeting where you make a suggestion and Belichick says “good idea”? [Clip plays] I didn’t know he actually listened to you.

(Laughs) It’s not very often. I’m glad you guys played that, that was probably the last time I heard him say, “That’s a good idea.” (Laughs) We always have a great exchange of information, and I think those meetings that he and I have are very helpful for me. They always have been, going back to when he was coaching the quarterbacks when coach [Dick] Rehbein passed away in 2000. He enjoys coaching the quarterbacks, he enjoys coaching the cornerbacks, everybody. He’s got so much information, so when you’re in a meeting with him, that’s all you do. You take down notes, you listen to what he’s saying, you hear his perspective and ultimately you try to incorporate he says into whatever you’re trying to do out there.

Why can’t other coaches do it? It doesn’t seem like he’s a rocket scientist or brain surgeon. Why is he so much better than everyone else in your opinion?

Honestly, I’ve never been around anybody else, so it’s hard for me to know. What he has taught me in terms of defense, from a defensive perspective how they’re trying to cover things, how to take advantage of the weaknesses of each opponent, whether that’s as a scheme or as an individual player.

For me, when I sit down and we talk about defensive backs, a lot of things that come out of those meetings is like, OK, on this particular DB we’re going to run a slant route. Well, on the other side of the field, the guy doesn’t let you run slant routes, but you can run what we call a stop route where you push up like you’re running a go route and then you stop really quick and I fire the ball to the receiver.

So, sometimes you go into the games, you say OK when we’re on the left hash, throwing to the left, we’re going to run a slant on this play. But when we’re on the right hash, we’re going to run a stop route. A lot of those little things that don’t seem like much end up helping you convert on third down, which keeps the drive alive, which leads to another touchdown.

It’s just a whole bunch of little things like that that he’s able to identify that other people may be able to identify them, but the way they coach it and the way they communicate it and the way they allow the players to implement those things into a game plan, he’s great at that. He’s very receptive to when I have a suggestion or when Vince [Wilfork] has a suggestion or  Jerod [Mayo] does, because he wants to see it verified on the field in practice. If he thinks you see something as an instinctive player then he’ll,  a lot of times, let you go with it.

X’s and O’s aside, is there a lot of technique being taught in the NFL?

There should be. It’s probably overlooked quite a bit because a lot of time you’re thinking about game planning and the execution of the plays. When you’re out to practice, a lot of the times, the coaches aren’t thinking about technique. A lot of the times, they don’t want to mess with the player’s technique, because the player got to this point doing it a certain way. A lot of the time, when you change your technique, you regress a little bit. But in order to get better, sometimes you have to get worse. There’s not a lot of time or patience for that in the NFL, because you’re trying to win each week.

A golfer that makes swing changes, he’s off for three or four months.Well, we play every week. So if your technique’s bad, you better work on it when you can but when it comes down to the playing, you better play because you can’t be thinking about your technique when your playing. A lot of those technique things that come up, you need to spend individual time working on those things in your down time, on your off days, thinking about them at nights. For me, looking in a mirror and throwing, seeing my throwing technique, so I’m always working on that. Then when I get on the field, it’s second nature to me.

What do players see and know about Belichick that the rest of the world doesn’t know? What do you guys know and see that we don’t?

He never wants to give away information that’s going to help another team. Whether that’s injuries, whether that’s game-planning, whether that’s what his thoughts on a particular player are. He never wants to put us at a disadvantage. With us, it’s the total opposite of what the people in the media get when they ask him a question, because he doesn’t want to tell them anything. With us, he tells us everything.

It’s just part of his philosophy, and that’s what he really preaches to us: Guys we’re not talking about injuries, we’re not talking about game film, we’re not talking about scheme, we’re not talking about what position you’re going to play this year. Let them figure it out. You don’t want to come out and say, Well, this is what we plan to do with so-and-so, because he’s good at this or he’s good at this. Let the other teams figure it out.

We know what we’re going to do. And by watching the opponent’s film, we can understand what we see as perceived weaknesses in them, and this is how we’re going to take advantage of those things. But we never want to go into a game tipping our hand. That’s what he preaches to us and how he approaches it himself.

The other day Heath Evans was on with us, and he called Belichick the funniest guy he ever met in his life. Would you agree with that?

[Laughter] In my life? Lenny Clarke‘s pretty funny. There’s a lot of funny guys. You don’t expect a lot of the things that probably come out of his mouth. And I’ve been around him for a while, so I’ve heard his jokes for like 12 years, and they kind of come at the same time every year. He is funny. He’s got a great sense of humor. He’s very witty. He’s so smart. He’s always on top of things. Whenever he does let his guard down a little bit, he can be pretty funny.

Who’s going to be around here longer — playing with the Patriots, coaching with the Patriots — you or him?

I’m sure he’ll get sick of me at some point. Who knows? I love playing. I love playing here. But it’s a crazy business. I’m not sure. I’ve never talked to him about how much longer he wants to coach. As I’m long as I’m playing and playing at a high level, I’ll probably be here. When I’m not playing at a high level anymore, I’ll probably be shipped on my way. [Laughs]

How is a week of preparation for a regular-season game different than a week of preparation for a preseason game?

It’s very different. It’s very different. In the preseason games, you probably watch, over the course of the week, an hour of film on the opponent. You don’t even get much of a feel for their players or their scheme. You just kind of see some real basic things about them. You talk about them very basically.

When playing the Dolphins this week, I’ve gone back through the last few years of notes that I’ve taken. I’ve seen nine games [on video]. You take all these notes, you get into the details of the coverages, the details of the players.

So, it’s very, very different. Every play that we’re going to run this week has a specific reason. In the preseason games, a lot of the plays you’re running are just to run them because you ran them in practice that week against the Patriots defense. You just don’t have time in the preseason because you’re trying to install new plays and work on individual schemes and techniques that you’re not scheming up plays for particular defenses.

That’s what I think everyone really loves turning the page on the preseason, because you really will feel so much more confident going into these games knowing the types of things that you’re going to do and the types of things you’re going to need to do in order to get the ball in the end zone.

Do you have any sense or way to judge or way to assess how much further behind you are with six days to go until opening night vs. a regular year? Do you think you’re still trying to catch up here?

Who knows? I have no idea at this point. We’ll see what kind of team we have come Monday night. Practices are great for football teams. And there’s no doubt, we’ve had far fewer practices this year than we’ve had in the past. We’ll see how we react to that. The thing is, every team is playing with the same amount. So, we’ll see how much we’ve taken advantage of what is a possible opportunity for us, if we’ve treated it that way. If we’ve had good practices, we’ve worked hard, we’ve been out there, guys have been out there every day, have gotten better and made improvements, we’ll see what kind of team we have.

If Logan Mankins says Brian Waters plays like I do, kind of a nasty edge, that probably makes the quarterback happy, doesn’t it?

Heck, yeah. That whole front five that we have, the nastier they are, the more intimidating they are. Logan doesn’t take crap from anybody. And neither does Matt Light — he was throwing punches at [Dolphins linebacker] Channing Crowder a few years ago. And Brian’s been the same way over the course of his career. They have an edge to them. I think that’s what makes those guys successful. When they take the field, they don’t take any crap. They play until the echo of the whistle.

That’s how they think they think they need to play, and that’s how they get their edge. The more physical we can be up front, the more aggressive we can be up front, there’s no getting around that with an offensive line when those guys are aggressive and tough and physical. Because that’s what sets the tone for the whole team.

Randy Moss told a reporter down in West Virginia that he would only come back to play for one team only, and that’s the New England Patriots. Would that surprise you if someday you were throwing to him again?

Would it surprise me? I mean, you never know in the NFL. I talked to Randy just before training camp started. I love Randy. He’s one of the greatest receivers in the history of the game, one of the greatest players I’e ever had a chance to play with, and I love the guy.

Unfortunately, I don’t make personnel decisions. I’d still have all my friends here. Troy [Brown] would still be here. David Patten would still be here. Deion [Branch] would never have left. I’ve seen so many guys move on over the years, and then guys come back. So, who knows? Who knows? You never know what situation we’ll be in here next week, for that matter.

Do you think he’s playing again somewhere? He’s your age, I believe.

He’s 34, 35. I don’t know. Who knows? I can’t get into his brain at all. But I love the guy. He’s a great friend of mine. If he ever did have the opportunity to come back, I’d certainly welcome him with open arms.

It would appear to be abject panic in Indianapolis with Peyton Manning’s injury and his whole status up in the air. Is that well-founded panic, do you think, based on his value to that football team?

He’s one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. If he’s not on the field, it’s tough for the league, because you’d love to see your best players out on the field. Injuries are a part of this game. It’s a physical game. He being in there for as many starts as he’s been in there is incredible.

I hope that he’s out there. I hope that he plays well. He’s a friend of mine — not when he plays us, but for the most part. He’s been out there every game since he’s been in as a starter, which is really remarkable. And what Brett Favre has done over the years is remarkable — knowing how hard it is to answer the bell every time that there’s a game. It’s just as much mental toughness as physical toughness. He’s as mentally tough as anybody. If he’s out there, then you know that he’s going to have that winning attitude that he’s always had.

Has anyone ever explained to you why the schedule-maker has the Patriots play in Miami at the end of summer and in New England against Miami when it’s real cold? Would it make sense to do it the other way around?

We’ve done that a few times. They always are just changing it up. That would not be a job that I would want, that scheduling. However it comes up, it comes up. Look, I enjoy having them come up in the wintertime.

You have an advantage?

If we can play well, it’s an advantage. We certainly play in these conditions. And they play in those conditions. But we’ve played in some hot weather. We played in Tampa a few weeks ago, tried to get used to it, it’s a night game. They’re going to be fired up. It’s the home opener. They didn’t have a very good season at home last year. I know that’s been their real battle cry this year, is playing well at home. Monday Night Football, there’s not much more you can ask for than that.

We’ve got to have a great week of practice. We started off yesterday and got off to a good start. We’ve got four practices, we’ve got to use every one of them. When we go down there on Monday night, we’re going to bring a lot of energy and hopefully go out and execute at a high level. It’s a tough place to play. It always has been for us, whether it’s December or whether it’s September. It will be a great challenge. It’s going to be fun to see where our team’s at, where we measure up.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brett Favre, Brian Waters, Logan Mankins
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