Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C: ‘I’m not taking this for granted’
|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.
When you told Bob Kraft, “This is the best move you’ve ever made,” what did you mean? Did you mean you’d start? Take the team to the playoffs? Win Super Bowls? Or were you being a smart-ass?
I wasn’t being a smart-ass. I don’t think I’d ever say that. I thought what I said was, “You’ll never regret picking me.” That was probably more along the lines of what I thought I said.
Be careful with Kraft. He doesn’t keep secrets well.
I’ve got such a great relationship with him. I think the growth of our relationship over the last 12 years has been really important for me.
I’ve been a long way from home for a long time. My home was San Mateo, California. My parents still live in the same house where I grew up. I went to Michigan when I was 17. I’ve been away for nearly as long as I’ve been home. He’s really been kind of a second father for me.
When you have quiet moments and consider what you’ve accomplished, do you ever think, this is unbelievable?
I think I realize how fortunate I am. I don’t take those things for granted. I think because it’s my life, I don’t go, “Wow, look at what I’ve accomplished.”
I was sitting in front of my locker the other day talking to Deion, who’s my lockermate, and we’re like, “Can you believe this?” I don’t think, as an athlete, you can ever imagine that. You hope for the best, you work hard for it, and if you get the opportunity, a lot of things need to come together to make it to this point. Look at the Packers, the Saints. It’s hard to get to this game. To do it five times, it’s crazy. You don’t take it for granted.
You appreciate all the relationships you’ve forged. Willie McGinest texted me yesterday. That’s like my big brother — a California guy, I came in here, I looked up to Willie, and now he’s like, “Hey, can I talk to you for five minutes on Tuesday.” Those are the things that, to me, matter the most.
What is the downside to being Tom Brady?
I don’t think I look at things like that. I don’t think, “Man, this sucks.” Like any human being, you have your moments. I’m probably more to myself now than I’ve ever been. I really don’t do anything these days. That part is a little bothersome for me.
To be social is probably more challenging for me now than it’s ever been, because I’m never really in social environments. I’m in a locker room and I’m in my house. If people want to see me, like my parents, they come to my house. Probably six or seven years ago, the Friday night they’d come into town, “Where do you guys want to go to dinner?” “Oh, let’s go to Abe & Louie’s.” “Great, let’s have a steak.” I don’t even do that now.
I don’t have as much energy as I used to. I really feel like I need my energy for this team, and I need to be emotional. By the end of the week I’m kind of spent, and I need to regroup before the game because that’s how I play the game. Then, after the game, I’m exhausted. Like the AFC championship, we win the game and I have all of my best friends in town, and they’re like, “Can we come over?” Nope, I’m putting my kid to bed and I’m going to sleep. I wish there was a part of me that felt like I could be a little more social and outgoing — to go to a Celtics game, which I’d love to do, but to me, it ends up being a little more of an energy drain than something I can really enjoy.
Is that because of the recognition and attention?
If people get the opportunity to come up to me and introduce themselves to me, I want them to walk away and feel, you know what? That was a nice experience. I think there’s times when I don’t have that energy to put on a face, like everything’s great. I sucked in [the AFC championship] game. I didn’t want to go out there and shake hands, “Thanks.” I just wanted to go home and really be myself. I think the place where I can be myself is at home with my family and my friends. That’s probably where I’m most comfortable.
You’ve met the Pope, presidents and sports stars. What impresses you now? Being on the cover of Sports Illustrated probably doesn’t mean much to you any more.
Do you look at that and say, “I can’t believe I’m on the cover of SI?”
Every time. Every time. I get the chills. ‘¦ I used to tear those covers off and put them up on my wall. It’s a pretty unbelievable thing to see that and to think, man, there are kids who are tearing those out and putting them on their wall.
I feel a big responsibility, as an athlete, to represent yourself in a certain way because you really are lucky. It doesn’t mean you have to go out of your way every single day to make people’s lives and experiences better. It just means you are blessed. When you have the opportunity to share certain things with some kids or some schools, it’s really a great thing to do because you can be a big influence.
Aside from ordering your gunmen to take out the paparazzi at your wedding, are you ever pushed over the edge?
My stress, I try to do a better job managing my stress. At the end of the week, you really don’t want to ask me for a lot of favors on a Friday night. I feel like the last three weeks, I’ve really been a little bit worn down.
You’ve got to find ways to regroup. If a guy cuts me off on the road, I don’t get pissed off. I probably drive slower on the road now than I ever used to. A lot of those things don’t really get me pissed off. It’s hard to get me pissed off.
At your house, is there an ego room or a trophy room? Would it be obvious that it’s your house?
In my house and in my apartment in Boston, you would know. I don’t have a ton of stuff. I have a little TV room where I have the Super Bowl MVP trophies and, like, some shoes from the Super Bowl, which are really cool. LeBron James gave me a shoe once, so I have that in there. I have some cool sports memorabilia, like when I got to play golf with President Clinton and President Bush up in Maine. I have a great picture with Jim Nantz that we all signed. I have a picture of me and Wes [Welker] working out together.
Do you really think you “sucked” against the Ravens?
I think there were two plays I wished I had back — the two interceptions. I thought we didn’t do a great job scoring, but the turnovers hurt you.
There’s nothing that correlates more to winning than turnover ratio. I think coach Belichick said when you’re minus-two in turnovers, you have a 17 percent chance of winning in the playoffs. When you think about that, you pretty much escaped. Yeah, we won, but it’s not going to happen — it’s 17 percent of the time, and I’m responsible for that. So, when you’re sitting on the sideline and watching Baltimore go down the field at the end of the game, you’re thinking, “I blew this game for us because of those two plays.”
Every fan, every player on this team, every fan of the Patriots, when you hold that football, you hold the hopes of every single person of winning the game with that ball. To turn it over or to play carelessly, that’s something that I’m pretty hard on myself about.
Everything that everyone thought was true about the Ravens game didn’t come to pass. What is the one element that is critical to this game?
We’ve been in 18 games this year. Even the three losses have come down to the last drive of the game. Our loss to the Giants came down to the last drive of the game.
When we work on the two-minute drill in practice, I think offensively or defensively, it’s going to come down to that. Whoever executes best in that last situation, I think it’s going to come down to that.
The Giants are good at that.
So are we. I hope we get the ball.
Everyone in New England was convinced you’d win Super Bowl XLII against the Giants. Were you convinced you’d win?
Sure. I don’t think anyone thought we’d lose that game, not because we’d roll our helmets out on the field and we’re the Patriots and we’re going to win. We thought we’d go out there and play a great game. When we played them earlier that season, it came down, basically, to one third-down conversion. Kevin Faulk made, on a third-and-9, where I threw it he made a great catch and run, we ended up scoring on that drive and made an interception on the next play. It comes down to one third-down conversion.
You look at the last game we played against these guys. We were 2-of-5 in the red area and they were 3-of-5. If we had one more third-down conversion that game, do we win the game? If they had one less, do they win the game? I think all those critical plays that you talk about, we have 60-70 offensive plays in this game. One or two plays made the difference, and one or two plays made the difference in the Super Bowl.
You can’t say the Patriots are better now than they were when you were 18-0 in 2007, but is there a case to be made that you’re better equipped for the Giants this year?
Every team is different. I don’t know if the Giants are the same team or we’re the same team, better or worse.
There’s things we were exceptional at that year that guys really learned from who were part of that team, and there are things that we’re exceptional at this year. Whether that amounts to who plays the best game on Sunday, who knows? I think that’s why you’re excited about the game.
Is your pregame anxiety different five minutes before kickoff in the Super Bowl as compared to a regular-season game against the winless Colts?
Probably. I think, the Super Bowl is a different animal. For everybody else it’s the Super Bowl. For the players, the pregame warmup, there’s a lot of people out there. You’re not part of the circus because you run in quite a bit early. Then they bring the balloons and all that crap on the field, we’re in the locker room getting ready to play. Halftime show, we don’t ever see any of that. We don’t see the commercials. We’re there to play a game.
Media Day on Tuesday is probably when it sinks in for a lot of guys, like, wow, OK, we’re in the Super Bowl. For the most part, you want to prepare like it’s a normal week. You don’t want to change things up because it’s the Super Bowl.
Everyone knows there’s a reason why we’re here. Let’s try to understand those things. Ultimately, it’s about playing your best game. That’s about preparation, that’s about being confident in what you’re doing. Those things are important.
Do you hate the feeling of nervousness and butterflies before a big game?
For me, it’s never the night before the game. It’s probably right before we run out. The more prepared I am, the less I feel. I’ll certainly be very prepared this week. I feel like the Super Bowl has been, I’ve played in four of them, and I’ve felt pretty good at the start of them.
Do you feel like situations with a great deal of pressure favor you?
I think the pressure is on us every day in practice, in the meetings, in the walkthroughs. It’s a highly pressurized situation that we’re in so that when we get to those game situations, we feel like we’re kind of used to it. When coach Belichick comes out to practice, everyone kind of sharpens up, “Oh, coach is watching.” He jokes at the beginning of the year. He’ll say, “Listen guys, I’m going to be at every game. The idea of being nervous when I’m out there — I’m going to be showing up.”
There’s pressure. There’s anxiety. There’s nerves. But part of being in this position, a lot of guys have played big-time college football. Aside from the rookies from the small schools, this is a big game, but we’ve been in a lot of huge games. I’d say playing Sunday Night Football at the Jets in the Meadowlands, that’s a pretty big game. Playing the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship, that’s a pretty big game. So, it’s not going to be a whole lot different than that, other than the opponent that we’re playing, in terms of our nerves. I think guys are going to settle into the game. It’s going to be a football game.
You perform well after bad games. Why?
I hope I don’t play too many bad games, period. If they end up being back-to-back, they certainly could be. You could go out there and throw three interceptions this game. I’m sure hoping I don’t. I’m working hard to concentrate on those things not happening. But if I throw two interceptions in the first half, I better throw pretty damn good in the second half.
Did Tom Martinez tell you anything specific in the aftermath of the AFC championship game?
We talk quite a bit. He’s got a great sense of my comfort, how I feel, how the game is going and so forth. We worked hard throughout this season to nail down my mechanics. I feel like I’m at a good place with it.
What did he say this week?
Just some of the techniques we’ve been working on. It’s nothing anybody would really understand. ‘¦ Throwing the football accurately is about mechanics. If mechanically you’re unsound, the ball isn’t going to go where you want. It’s just like a golf swing. If you’re loose with your golf swing, you’re not going to hit the ball down the middle. Hopefully you’ll still hit it on the fairway. But for me, I want to feel like I’m nailing it down the fairway.
Every young player who goes to the Super Bowl in one of his first seasons assumes he’ll go back. What’s it like for 34-year-old who’s going to his fifth Super Bowl? Do you ever think this could be your last Super Bowl?
Sure. Sure. I thought about that the other day, because we haven’t been there for four years.
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.
Sure, and I think we’ve already talked about that several times. Take advantage of the opportunity because you may never get it again.
What is Albert Haynesworth thinking right now?
I’m not sure. I’d give anything to play in this game. It just didn’t work out for Albert. That’s all. I actually had a great relationship with Albert, and I was hoping he’d do great because that would be for the best for this team. It just didn’t work out. I feel good for Shaun Ellis, playing for the Jets for all those years, not going anywhere, then he comes to us for one year and he’s playing. I feel good for all these guys who have been around, and been on good teams, but now they’re on a team that’s in the Super Bowl.
The winner’s share for the Super Bowl is $88,000.
Eighty-eight thousand for the winners? For 40 tickets that I buy and all the hotel rooms and tickets, I’m losing money on this game. That’s OK.
Should we expect to see something from deep in the playbook, something we haven’t seen?
We’re a game-plan team. We watch all the tape. What we think we can expose, that’s what we’re going to try to do.
This is a very good team. They have a lot of strengths. That’s why they’re in this game. They can cover. They can rush. They can stop the run. We’ve still got to find a way to do it. I think we’re going to have a lot of confidence in our game plan.
How many plays are there in the playbook that have never been used?
The playbook is, for us, it’s massive. There’s things that aren’t in our playbook that we end up running, things that from the beginning of the year kind of evolved into what they are now — this looked really good, we’re going to complement it with this play. That’s how you keep a team off-balance. We’re not going to say, “We’ve run this play 50 times this year from the same formation, let’s do it again in the Super Bowl.” You’ve got to give them different looks so they can’t really dial things up and nail you.
Your sons probably aren’t old enough to appreciate this.
They’re staying home. Both of them are staying home.