Al Thompson
Tom Brady has been all smiles, all week at Super Bowl LI in Houston, Photo by Erik Houser.

Super Bowl LI – Thursday, February 2, 2017



(on how he maintains normalcy in his life throughout the season) “Well, I talked the other day about compartmentalization. I think it’s just I owe it to the team to be focused on them when I’m at work and when I’m preparing. You just have different facets of your life that you do at the different times. I think over the course of a long career, you get better at those things because you have to. You can’t let everything that’s going on in your life affect the way that you go out and play. Everybody’s dealing with something. It’s life. We work for a long time over the course of the entire season. You’ve just got to learn to deal with it the best you can.”

(on who in his life keeps him grounded) “Yeah, I have lot of people that keep me grounded, both at work and outside of work. I have a wonderful wife and wonderful parents and sisters that have always supported me, so I’m very blessed.”

(on the key to his longevity and sustained success) “I could take the up the rest of this 15 minutes. I think being to seven Super Bowls just means I’ve been a part of seven really great football teams that have made it this far. I think we’ve got to do our best to finish it off, and that’s going to be very tough because we’re playing a great football team. I love this sport and I commit my life to playing it. There’s a lot of decisions that I make based on my lifestyle that help me play at this more experienced age than most. I love doing it as you get older, it gets actually, I think, easier because you have priorities. If one of my priorities is to try to be a great quarterback, everything else kind of falls in line. When I was younger, there were different priorities. When you’re married and you have three kids, you have different priorities. That’s just what happens with life. I’m sure you guys realize that, too.”

(on if the team has been relaxed this week and if there is a point when the team will become more focused) “It’s a little tricky because the week ebbs and flows. There’s a lot. You come off the high of winning the championship game and then you have a week off. Then you kind of get revved up to come down here and then you have, really, two days off and there’s a lot of other obligations. Finally, you get into practice, which is great, and then a lot of families come in tonight. Tomorrow is our last day of practice. It’s been, actually, great to get on the field these past two days and really get to work on the things that we need to work on that are going to try to help us win this game. You can sit up here and talk about those things all day, but ultimately, you have to go out and work on them, practice them and work through the communication with your teammates. I think that’s what the last three days are really about kind of bringing everything that we talked about into focus. There’s a lot of things that we’ve been coached on. There’s a lot of things that, ‘Hey, don’t forget about this or verses this look, we’ll do this.’ A lot of those things you talk about and I think because of the heightened sense of focus and urgency, you’ve got to understand those things, but also once you go out on the field for kickoff, you’ve just got to cut it loose.”

(on how he balances football and family this week and his advice for younger teammates) “I think for our families, it’s great because they’re coming in as fans and they get to enjoy the festivities. I think for the players, we’re busy trying to win a game. For me personally, I don’t plan on doing anything other than getting ready to play football. Obviously, I’ll see everybody at some point, but there’s plenty of time after Sunday to do that. They’ll kind of enjoy the game, enjoy the Super Bowl and all the wonderful things that go along with being here and this week. I know there’s some events for families tonight and all the way through the weekend. I think it’s just staying focused on what our job is, trying to actually regain some of our energy over the course of the next three days that we’ve kind of spent in other places.”

(on how he was able to help Jay Flannelly of Ann Arbor, Michigan) “I’ve known him for a long time. He’s just been a longtime friend. I met him through Jason Carr. He was a good friend of Jason Carr, and actually, Joe Marinaro, who was one of our team captains at Michigan, is from Andover in Massachusetts. Just knowing those guys and being an incoming freshman, I got to meet Jay, and he’s always kind of kept in touch being from Massachusetts.”

(on if he knows if his mom will be able to attend the game) “I’m still hopeful. I’m not sure, but yeah, hopeful. That’s a good word.”

(on if the team has shown energy and focus this week on the finer points of the gameplan) “Yeah, there’s a lot of nuances. I think the thing is we have a volume of plays. I’d say it’s a pretty big library at this point, me being in this system for 17 years and having the relationship I have with (Offensive Coordinator) Josh (McDaniels). So we can recall a lot of plays—I mean, thousands and thousands of plays—but again, there’s 70 left. If we’re talking about yeah, it could be a great idea, but the likelihood of calling it in the game is low, you’re just wasting your energy talking about things that probably won’t come up. You can’t really go in just with 70 plays because the situation of the game could change very quickly if you lose any particular skill player because, when you go in with a plan, there’s only a limit of how many guys you can have active for the game. You have to have flexibility within your system, within your call sheets to be able to withstand things that you’re going to have to change or adjustments. That’s part of it. It’s stuff you deal with all season long. It’s not new to the Super Bowl or anything like that, but I think just based on the fact of the finality of this game and this season, we’re trying to really hone in on the ones that we like best. That will really get widdled down here in the next couple of days, but there’s still a good volume of stuff. Hopefully, we can narrow it down and really focus in on those details that we really need in order to execute against a really good defense.”

(on his pregame routine) “Yeah, we haven’t really gotten the schedule. We have to go over, I think, a little bit earlier just for security reasons and so forth. I think we’re going to get our schedule for that. I’ll just kind of work my way back from when that moment is and try to get as much rest as I can during the day. I’ve been sleeping good lately, so I’ll sleep good the night before the game, and hopefully that helps, and just rest all the way up until the time we get on the bus to go. Then we’ll go cut it loose.”

(on how his prior Super Bowl experience can be an asset, especially in the fourth quarter) “Well, I mean, there was a first time for all of us being in this game or being in this situation. The first time I was in it, we had a two-minute situation and we went down and won the game. I think it comes down to how you play this week and not necessarily what happened many years ago. I think just relying on the two weeks of practice that we’ll have had should be enough. We’ve got a whole season that we had to prepare for all these different moments and situations that have come up. Whatever comes up this weekend, we’ll have to be ready for. A lot of those things you try to prepare for over the course of the season so we’re ready for them when they come up.”

(on whether this Super Bowl will have greater significance to him than his previous six) “They all were pretty meaningful. At different points—I mean, they’re all very important and very meaningful. I think they’re meaningful, obviously, for me, for this game. A lot has gone into this game. A lot has gone into it for every player that’s going to be taking the field. When you play in the Super Bowl, and I said the other day, it is once in a lifetime. You can’t take these things for granted. We’ve been very blessed, as part of this organization, for the guys that have been on these teams to make it this far, but it’s a very steep mountain to climb. When you get to this point, walking off the practice field today, there’s two quarterbacks probably in the world that are practicing today preparing for this game. Myself and (QB) Matt (Ryan) should feel very privileged to be able to do that. There’s a lot of guys that don’t have the chance, and I think you do feel very humbled when you’re walking off the field to say, ‘Wow, we had an opportunity to go out and practice and prepare for a game that’s so meaningful to all of us that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.’ I’m just very blessed for that. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to—again, how we remember this week will be determined by the score of the game. There will be great feelings if we win, and I’ve been on the other end of that, too, which those are some crappy feelings that I’m sure the Giants fans still love, but that’s just the way it goes.”

(on what it has meant to him to have Head Coach Bill Belichick as a coach and who will retire first) “That’s a good question. I don’t know what he plans on doing. He’s the best, and I’ve been very lucky to play for him. He’s so focused on coaching and doing anything he can to help us win. There’s no B.S. with Coach Belichick, and I think that’s what players appreciate. When you come into the program, you realize it’s all about football and it’s not a bunch of ra-ra crap that’s not going to matter and has no bearing on preparing you for the game, but it’s just coaches screaming louder and louder and thinking that’s going to emphasize some certain point. I think Coach does a great job of every week putting the urgency on the team and making us understand that we’re going up against a very competitive team that could beat us if we don’t play the way that we should play. Every week, he’s so consistent, and I think that’s a great thing for us as players is to have a leader like that who brings it every day. Whether that’s April or whether that’s early February, his attitude is the same. He’s trying to do and coach the best way that he can in order to get us to go out there and execute at the highest level possible. I love it. He’s certainly a disciplinarian, so in that sense, it’s great because when you’re the quarterback and you coach does that for you, I don’t really have to do any of those things. I can be just like one of those other guys. I’m yelled at just like everybody else, but it’s nice to feel, especially in my 17th year, that I am one of the guys because I think that’s ultimately the best thing for our team. He certainly takes the lead and we all fall in line.”

(on how TE Martellus Bennett’s personality fits within the Patriots’ culture) “Well, I think with Marty, absolutely football is No. 1. He has a high football IQ. I mean, I have so much respect for Marty to come in, being in the different organizations that he has, and he came right in from OTAs, didn’t miss any practices all through training camp. He’s been available every game this season, he’s played several different positions and he’s practiced almost every day, too. I wouldn’t say he’s feeling great at this point in terms of his body, but he’s fought through it. He’s got a lot of mental toughness. He’s obviously got a great personality. He’s got a lot of life to him, so we in the locker room love that.”

(on Bennett’s funniest joke) “I don’t think they’re appropriate for this room.”

(on how Belichick has been able to get the best out of him throughout his career) “His style, I think, is very conducive to just getting the best out of me, so I think it’s a good fit. I probably don’t take compliments very well is something you guys probably know covering us, and he doesn’t give very many compliments out. I think in that sense, he coaches us hard. There’s some throws that I make and you throw it 50 yards downfield and hit the guy in stride, and I’m like, ‘Damn, that was a pretty good throw.’ And I’ll look back at him and he’ll be looking for the next play. That’s just his style. He has a very high level of expectation. He’ll say all the time, ‘I hope my expectation for you guys isn’t better or more than your expectation for yourself.’ I think those types of things really challenge us as players to be at our best every single day, to never take these opportunities for granted and to try to keep reaching a higher level as the season goes.”

(on if he was accustomed to Belichick’s coaching style from his time at Michigan) “Yes. I’ve pretty much been used to that through college and even in high school I had a coach who was pretty tough, as well. So my entire football career, I’ve really had a defensive head coach that’s been a disciplinarian. It’s been great for me. I mean, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hear different stories of offensive coaches, and it’s a little different. I mean, we practice outside every day in the crappy weather in Foxboro. It’s great for defensive football, not always great for offensive football, so sometimes I’m like, ‘Coach, how about we go in the bubble?’ And he’s like, ‘Outside.’ He’s just a defensive-minded coach and he wants to make it tough it on us, and he certainly does, and he wants to see if we respond. I think this team has done a great job of responding over the course of a long season and we’re at the finish line, so we’ve just got to make it a great sprint to the end.”

Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii

3 Feb 17 - Arena Football League, Football, NFL - Al Thompson - No Comments

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