Patriots quarterback Tom Brady told Dennis & Callahan in a revealing interview that aired Monday morning that he is grateful for the opportunity to compete in a fifth Super Bowl, and that he understands and appreciates the responsibility that comes with it.
Brady talked about how far he's come since he arrived in New England as an unheralded sixth-round draft pick out of Michigan in 2000.
"I think I realize how fortunate I am," he said "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 [Branch], 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."
Looking back at the Super Bowl XLII loss to the Giants, Brady was asked if he went into the game convinced the heavily favored Patriots would win the game.
"Sure," he acknowledged. "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."
Looking at Sunday's game, Brady talked about the one element that might be most criticial to success.
"We’ve been in 18 games this year," he said. "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."
Reminded that the Giants have proven to be pretty good at last-minute, game-winning drives, Brady replied: "So are we. I hope we get the ball."
Following are more highlights from the interview:
On the downside to being as famous as he is: "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."
On the recognition and attention he receives in public: "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."
On if he ever loses his patience: "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."
On if he really thinks he "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."
On if he still is surprised to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated: "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."
On what Albert Haynesworth might be thinking 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."
For a transcript of the conversation, check the It Is What It Is blog. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
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