Great playoff memories from Matt Light, Kevin Faulk and Robert Kraft
|01.20.13 at 5:58 pm ET|
FOXBORO — There’s a reason for everything the Patriots do and when they chose Matt Light and Kevin Faulk to be honorary captains for the AFC championship there was a definite message from Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
“I just pinched myself coming over here because I was thinking as a fan sitting in the stands we had the privilege of one home playoff game in ‘78 which we lost to Houston, and I thought about that,” Kraft said on Friday. “We’re sitting here on the eve ‘ our family has owned this team 19 years and this is our 17th home playoff game. We have a record of 14-2. I was thinking that last year we had our honorary captains, Drew Bledsoe, Ty Law, [Tedy] Bruschi and Troy Brown representing the ‘96 and ‘01 [teams], which were our first two championship games. Our two captains this year have been here for five.
“How do you do this? It’s about having great coaches, but most of all, it’s having great players and we’ve been blessed to have some wonderful players here. I feel a special connection and attachment to both Matt Light and Kevin Faulk, who have been here for five championship games but also our three Super Bowl titles. It’s my great pleasure to introduce Matt Light and Kevin Faulk.”
Light and Faulk will be out for the coin toss moments before the Patriots look for their sixth AFC championship in the last 12 seasons.
What do Faulk and Light think?
“First and foremost I would like to say thank you to Mr. Kraft and the Patriot organization just for the opportunity and honor to be able to be the honorary captain for the AFC Championship game,” Faulk said. “It’s kind of different for me and I am pretty sure it’s the same for Matt because we are used to being on the other side of these in the locker room preparing for the game. But it’s one of those [things] right now where times have changed and we are on the other side of the fence preparing for it in a different way. To have the opportunity to do this and to know the guys that have done it in the past like Ty, Bruschi and Drew, it is an honor.
“You never think about what is going to happen at the end whenever you are done playing football. I never thought I was going to play 13 years in the NFL and to accomplish the accomplishments that we accomplished as a football team and to see this organization still on that same path after so many years, it just speaks volumes for the organization, the players, the coaches and just everybody around here. Once again I would just like say thank you for the opportunity to Mr. Kraft and the Patriots organization.
“So listen, as a fan, I have never seen anything but a win at Gillette Stadium,” Light added. “Besides what some of you know, as a guy that isn’t the biggest sports fan off the field, there is nobody that is going to be in this stadium that is going to be more fired up for this one than this guy right here. Secondly, the guy that is getting this honor alongside of me here, Kevin Faulk ‘ if there is one guy that I can walk out on a field one more time with, it would be the guy that did it on third down and every time he touched the field I felt better at my position. And even if I was getting smoked all game I felt better when he was out there because I knew that he would get rid of it quicker. It is just an awesome thing to be back here and be alongside Kevin Faulk.
“To have the Kraft family honor us in this way, to share in this special moment, at this time of the year, when everybody is amped up, it is truly a blessing. As Kevin said, the time that I have spent here, the time that Kevin has spent here, you look back on it and you say, as an organization, as a coaching staff and as the guys you play with, as all those things were combined to form what we experienced, it doesn’t get any better. We really appreciate it and we are really looking forward to it. I know we are. It is going to be good.”
Here are other highlights:
Is there something about having the ability to talk to the media more now that you’re at the end of your careers and not having to worry about what Coach Belichick is going to say?
KF: That’s a good question. Not really. It’s not about [Coach Belichick] looking over your shoulder. Matt never listened to what Bill had to say anyway, so it didn’t matter. It’s not about looking over your shoulder; it’s about understanding and being more comfortable. I know pretty much everyone by face and name now. So it’s being comfortable in front of all of you now. That’s about it for me.
ML: I took everything Bill said to heart. Sometimes you take it all the way to the edge of the cliff. You just don’t jump off. He calls me once a week to let me know what I’ve done wrong, things I need to work on and how I can get better and improve as a person. I always enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have to listen to stupidity in the media. And I don’t mean you guys, I mean from our locker room. He would show a lot of examples on what these other teams are doing and it takes the pressure off you as an individual. That was actually kind of nice.
Q: With Ravens LB Brendon Ayanbadejo and WR Anquan Boldin predicting a victory, does that bring flashbacks?
ML: You know what? The amazing thing is, I guess it is repetition, muscle memory. When I heard all that stuff I was like, ‘What is that going to do?’ They will go out there and they will do it on Sunday and they will prove it with what they do on the field, and it is pretty simple.
Q: Do you have words for the younger guys this week, particularly leading up to this type of game?
ML: No, you know what, those guys are so dialed in at what they do, they don’t need the old-timer that looks like he just stepped out of a cabin in the middle of nowhere to give them any kind of advice. I will groom one of these days. I thought about it coming here. I was like, this is horrible; this is a hot mess.
Q: I thought that was your playoff beard?
ML: It is, 100 percent.
Q: What is your favorite moment in an AFC title game?
KF: That is a good question. I can’t say the next one; we can’t do that one anymore. The memories are very deep. Like I said, we have had the opportunity to play on a lot of good football teams, and play with a lot of good guys. It’s too hard to pick out just one. There are a few of them. One that sticks out in my mind is probably the first one against the Pittsburgh Steelers. For me, it was an opportunity to grow as a football player and understand your role and what it meant. For me, I grew from that game. If you remember, I didn’t play in that game at all. I was watching it from the sideline. I grew a whole lot and for me to experience what I experienced, that experience for me was good.
ML: I have to agree with that. Being in Pittsburgh, celebrating, seeing all those towels hit the floor. I got one. I framed it. Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t Corey [Dillon] have one awesome run down the right side of the field? I mean it was a heck of a run, he went and scored. I don’t savor a lot of those moments with those images in my brain, but for whatever reason, I can still see that. That game was an AFC Championship game on the road, playing in Pittsburgh, Corey going down there in a very physical game, which it always is against Pittsburgh. In a physical game, when you win the battle up front at the line of scrimmage and you can see that guy running that way, that doesn’t leave you.
Q: Was it cleanly blocked?
ML: Typically if a running back gets tackled, it is usually their fault, wrong cut or something [laughs]. No, probably not actually.
Q: What do you remember about former Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe stepping in during that game?
ML: That was wild.
KF: That was one where you knew at that point how much of a professional Drew was. You knew it was one of those situations where he had a heavy heart from the whole year and the situation. But to come in, in that situation, and know pretty much he could help his team win the football game and go to the Super Bowl ‘ and not know what was going to happen later ‘ and still put forth the effort to help his football team, that lets you know what type of leader and what type of person he was.
Q: Can you talk about the brotherhood and the ‘Patriot Way?’ How does that translate now that you’re not in the locker room?
KF: I love the term the ‘Patriot Way’ now because I am not in the locker room. Can somebody explain to me what the Patriot Way is? I am saying it jokingly because we know what it is, and when a guy comes in, everybody talks about letting the guy know what the Patriot Way is. There is no secret to it. A veteran guy that comes here, he wants to win football games. And when he wants to win football games, they are going to do whatever it takes, no matter what it takes. To be on the football team and stay there, if that means not being who he usually was, that is what is going to happen. All they want to do is win, that is the Patriot Way.
ML: I feel the same way.
Q: If you could put the pads on and face one of those defensive linemen again, who would it be?
ML: I don’t have a desire for that, I really don’t. If it was boxing or something, I’d go toe-to-toe with a couple of these cats. I think [Channing] Crowder and I would be a good matchup. I know that he lacks the size, and I am over it. I’m just saying from an all out entertaining, let’s get after it, let’s get it on. But I don’t hold anything against anybody. That was then and this is now.