|Tom Brady fights off tears talking about his dad: ‘My dad is my hero’||01.30.17 at 11:34 pm ET|
HOUSTON — Tom Brady may have had his tongue in cheek and been giving his dad some grief when he went on WEEI’s Kirk and Callahan Monday morning to inform the world he’s putting a media muzzle on Tom Brady, Sr.
But when the subject came up again Monday night at Super Bowl opening night at Minute Maid Park, there was no joking, only the somewhat unsuccessful attempt to fight off tears.
“Who’s my hero? That’s a great question. I think my dad is my hero because he’s someone that I look up to every day,” the Patriots quarterback said when asked by a boy atop a man’s shoulders during the hour-long session in what is short-centerfield of the baseball park.
As he battled welled-up tears, he just repeated, “my dad.”
It’s somewhat appropriate that Brady worked in a baseball reference.
“I loved baseball growing up and he’s someone who would play catch with me,” Brady said.
Clearly, Brady has been affected by his father’s pain from watching his son’s trials and tribulations through Deflategate. Brady, Sr. went as far as to suggest NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is not worthy of sharing the stage with his son should the Patriots prevail Sunday night.
The first time Brady became publicly emotional on a national stage talking about his father was during the NFL Films documentary, “The Brady Six” chronicling the six quarterbacks taken ahead of him in the 2000 NFL draft.
During that documentary, Brady explains how he and his parents walked with him around the block as he was tormented while waiting to be chosen. He was eventually taken sixth (199th overall) and, in explaining his wait and his parents’ support, Brady broke down and cried during the filming.
|Mohamed Sanu recalls his old Rutgers roomie Logan Ryan: ‘We’re going to have fun out there Sunday’||at 9:44 pm ET|
HOUSTON — Sunday will be the best kind of reunion for former college roommates Logan Ryan and Mohamed Sanu.
The two are meeting on football’s biggest stage after spending time living together at Rutgers.
Sanu, the star No. 2 receiver for the Falcons, was taken by the Bengals in 2012 while the Patriots took their hard-tackling cornerback the next year.
What will it be like if Sanu lines up against Ryan on Sunday in Super Bowl LI?
“I don’t know,” Sanu said Monday night at Super Bowl opening night at Minute Maid Park. “We’ll just have to see. It’ll be fun to go against him. We’re going to have fun out there on Sunday.”
Sanu was not about to reveal any trade secrets or game plan info so the questions center on what kind of roomie Ryan was to live with.
“Logan was a great roommate, a very clean guy. Very, very clean. We rotated,” Sanu said of the cleaning chores.
There was something else the two had very much in common.
“I was always on time,” Sanu said. “I hate being late. That’s why we always gelled. We’d always wake up around the same time and take off and get to meetings on time.
“We watched a lot of movies together. I tell you that. We didn’t really cook together. We went to the dining hall a lot.”
And as for chores?
“We just made sure the house was clean,” Sanu said. “We just made sure there was not a big mess. We clean up after one another, just made sure the house was clean.”
Any roommate fights over their time at the State University of New Jersey?
“Nah, none of that,” Sanu laughed. “We send a friendly text to one another, send each other the “eyes” emojis and told each other we look forward to seeing you.”
Sanu welcomed those questions after being asked by rapper J.B. Smoove “if it’s true” that his first name got him stopped at airport security with new presidential order.
“Nah,” Sanu said without skipping a beat.
|Patriots officially arrive in Houston for Super Bowl LI, Alan Branch rides a scooterboard||at 5:39 pm ET|
HOUSTON — The Patriots arrived in Houston for SB LI on Monday afternoon, landing around 2:45 p.m. CT, about 45 minutes ahead of the original 3:30 p.m. itinerary. As soon as the Delta charter pulled up in front of the media section on the tarmac at George Bush International Airport, airport personnel rolled over a pair of stairs, one in the front and one in the rear of the aircraft.
As soon as the stairway in the front was in place, the plane’s flight crew flew a pair of Patriots’ flags, one out of the front of the plane and the other in the front doorway.
Owner Robert Kraft and son Jonathan were among the first to deplane, then head coach Bill Belichick. Tom Brady deplaned along with backup Jimmy Garoppolo, from the rear.
The highlight was defensive tackle Alan Branch motoring from the rear doorway to one of the six buses that lined up to take the Patriots on their way from the airport 18 miles south to downtown Houston.
The Patriots checked into their hotel, the J.W. Marriott and then will prepare for Monday night’s Super Bowl Opening Night, featuring the massive media availability at Minute Maid Park. The session was affectionally called “a circus” by Belichick on WEEI’s Dale and Holley program earlier in the afternoon.
The team will have its media session, then a light day resembling a regular off-day on Tuesday, before getting ready for Wednesday’s standard practice at the University of Houston. For the Patriots, Monday’s plane ride of just over three hours was a continuation of a busy day. They began the festivities with a 9 a.m. ET rally outside Gillette Stadium, where owner Robert Kraft, quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick spoke.
|How advice from Vince Wilfork could pay big dividends for Devin McCourty and Patriots D in Super Bowl LI||01.27.17 at 6:50 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Years before “Do Your Job” became part of the football lexicon in 2014, Vince Wilfork, still with the Patriots, had his own take on keeping to your responsibilities when he was trying to get his message across to the Patriots secondary.
Asked Friday about the need to recognize pass versus the run in light of the Falcons weapons in both areas, Devin McCourty recalled what Big Vince once told him in his second season.
“I remember Vince telling me that back in, I think 2011. He came in and told the whole secondary, he said, ‘We’ve got the run. If you’re supposed to be deep, stay deep.’ He said it with a little different choice of words, but that stuck with me,” McCourty said. “The key to any big game is a guy that’s supposed to be playing the deep middle part of the field not making a tackle in the run game for two yards. If you do that, you’re wrong. I don’t care really how it was drawn up. You’re wrong. I think that’s always the key when you play an offense like this that’s so balanced. Guys just have to do their job. You have to play your assignment, whatever that is and whatever defense it is, you’ve got to just play your assignment.”
In other words, “Guys that are up front that the defense dictates different roles for us, and if you’ve got to play the run, you play the run, and if you’ve got to play the pass, you play the pass,” McCourty said.
The key for the Patriots will be taking care of running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman close to the line of scrimmage before they get to the second level.
“They’re tough. It’s hard in this league when you let these guys, if they get in the open field and you’ve got to have one or two guys just try to bring them down in a one-on-one situation,” McCourty said. “It’s tough. Freeman is very elusive, so is Coleman. Those are guys that it’s not even just breaking runs, it’s when they split out and they run a route that a receiver runs and he catches the ball. Now you’ve got to try and tackle him, so they’re both very elusive and tough in space, so it’s going to be tough.
“If I’m in the deep middle I’m not going to be two yards [off the line of scrimmage], but even trying to get on that 10 yards is going to be tough. It’s something that we talk about a lot in the secondary of trying to be a good secondary tackling team, trying to get all four or five of us that’s on the field, if a run breaks through getting as many guys to the runner and trying to get him down.”
And McCourty said don’t expect the Patriots to go overboard trying to fool Matt Ryan with different looks. Ryan was 34-of-54 for 421 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in a Patriots’ 30-23 win back on Sept. 29, 2013 in Atlanta.
FOXBORO — Friday provided a potential glimpse into what Tom Brady might be facing Super Bowl week in Houston.
A TV reporter from Providence, Mark Dondero of WPRI-TV, wanted badly to get the Patriots quarterback to admit he really wants to exact revenge on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his four-game suspension from Deflategate.
The exchange went as follows:
Dondero: “Tom, we’ve all heard what you’ve said over the last year-plus at the podium and on the radio. I respect what you’ve said, but this commissioner and this league via a four-game suspension tried to disgrace you. People called you a cheater. People on TV cried. People lied. People threw trash at your name. Are you telling us none of that factors into any of the motivation that you have to go out there and win this game so you can grab the trophy, hold it high, stand at the top of the mountain and howl at the moon?”
Brady: “I mean I am motivated by my teammates. I said that after the game. I think they are all the motivation I need. It takes a lot of work to get to this point and nothing that has happened in the past is going to help us win this game. What is going to help us win this game is going through that process that we talked about and being ready to go. That’s my motivation.”
Why does he feel so strongly about that?
“Well, I’m a positive person. I just focus on all the positives,” Brady added. “I don’t get caught in negativity and bashing other people. I’m very blessed. I get to do something I love to do, show up to work every day, play football in the National Football League and play for the Patriots.
“I grew up watching Joe Montana and Steve Young in the Bay Area at a great time. I’ve got support from my family and some great support from my friends. I love playing for this team. I’m very blessed. I try to keep a positive outlook and try to influence people in a positive way. I try to be an encouraging person in other people’s lives. Hopefully, that wears off on my teammates. It’s a tough game. There’s a lot of challenges you face. I think always focusing on what’s positive has worked for me.”
Brady’s answered basically echoed his response from a week earlier, leading up to the AFC Championship game against the Steelers.
|Patriots finalize Super Bowl LI “One More” rally plans at Gillette Stadium to send team off to Houston||01.26.17 at 9:11 pm ET|
FOXBORO — From NRG Plaza to NRG Stadium for Super Bowl LI.
That’ll be the story Monday morning as Patriots fans come together to send their heroes off to Houston to get ready for their march to a hopeful fifth Vince Lombardi trophy.
The Patriots are inviting fans to a special Super Bowl send-off rally Monday morning, Jan. 30 at 9:00 a.m., on NRG Plaza outside The Hall at Patriot Place. Super Bowl LI will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston on Feb. 5.
Patriots in-stadium announcer John Rooke will kick things off at 9:00 a.m. The rally, which is free and open to the public, will include a performance by the New England Patriots Cheerleaders, t-shirt tosses and giveaways. Patriot Radio Network play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci and color analyst Scott Zolak will talk about Super Bowl LI and the Patriots showdown with the Atlanta Falcons.
Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and team captains Tom Brady, Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower and Matthew Slater will address the crowd before the buses roll out of Foxborough and head to Boston’s Logan International Airport. The rally is expected to conclude shortly after 10 a.m. and the team is expected to arrive in Houston around 3 p.m. local time. More details on the rally to be announced.
The Patriots captured their ninth conference championship and eighth since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994 with a 36-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 22 at Gillette Stadium. Kraft told Patriots Nation during the Lamar Hunt Trophy presentation following the win over the Steelers that while the conference championship victory was “big,” there’s still two more weeks left in the journey.
Kraft concluded his remarks by saying, “We have to go to Houston and win One …” pausing to allow the capacity crowd to enthusiastically finish the sentence by yelling “More!”
|Bill Belichick aims to have most of Super Bowl LI game plan installed before leaving for Houston||at 7:26 pm ET|
FOXBORO — A day after beating the Steelers in the AFC Championship, the Patriots announced they would be leaving for Houston on the same day as media night at Minute Maid Park.
Then listening to Bill Belichick Thursday it became pretty clear why. The Patriots are hoping to use every moment back in Foxboro trying to install as much of their game plan against the high-powered Falcons as possible before taking on the distractions of Super Bowl week.
Thursday was the first of four practices before moving all operations down to the Lone Star State. How much of the game plan will have been prepared after that time?
“It’s somewhere between 50 and 100 [percent], somewhere in there,” Belichick said. “We’ll be certainly more than halfway there, but there will be some things that will be, particularly some situations, that we’ll be covering in Houston. How exactly that will break up, we’ll just have to kind of see how it goes.
“I don’t think we need to go to something until we have what we’re doing right just to be moving. We’ll just kind of see how these days go as to how far we get, but we won’t get all the way. We won’t try to do that, but hopefully we’ll have a good chunk of it in and feel confident about what we’re doing so that we can kind of keep that part of it tuned up, and then go into some new areas down there and make sure that we have those tied up, too.”
Since the Patriots have started making Super Bowl trips with Belichick in Jan. 2002, they have followed different protocols each time. After beating the Steelers in Jan. 2002, they had only a week to get ready for the Super Bowl against the Rams because of 9/11. In Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX, XLII and XLVI they went down on a Sunday after a rally. For Super Bowl XLIX, they went down on the Monday before Media Day Tuesday, the last time Media Day was held on a Tuesday.
Last year, Media Day was changed to Monday night, and that will continue this year.
“Yeah, we’ve done it a couple of different ways. We’ve traveled on different days,” Belichick said. “Now it’s a little different schedule down there than what it was. We’ve had one week Super Bowls. I think each one is a little bit different and each team is a little bit different, so what’s right for this team may or may not have been right for some other team. There’s not like a set grid that we just match up to. We try to do what’s best for the particular situation – the team we’re playing, what areas we need to emphasize maybe more in this game than possibly another game like this where just the emphasis points are different.
The reason for the intensive work this week is, in part, because they’re learning a new team and coach since last the Patriots played the Falcons in 2013.
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