Jan 18, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (75) smiles on the bench during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Yesterday several members of the New England Patriots met with the media to discuss this whole “deflate-gate” business, and focusing on their upcoming date in the Super Bowl.
Here is the official transcript:
Q: What do you make of this deflated football controversy?
VW: Nothing. Here we are with the biggest game of our career, and that’s what it’s about. It’s about going out and being able to play a game you work so hard for and be in the Super Bowl. That’s what it’s about. [We’ve] got to be able to eliminate all distractions right now, and I’m pretty sure we’ll have more distractions, but at the same time, I think we’ve done a great job around here all year of just being so focused on our opponents and what we have to do to win a ballgame. That’s where I’m at right now, so nothing different for me. [We’re] facing a good football team so we have to do everything we can to be able to play well against them this game.
Q: Does this take away from the anticipation for the Super Bowl or are you still excited?
VW: Very excited. This is – besides coming to training camp when you’re away from football the whole offseason – I think this is one of the most exciting times of the year, especially if you have a team that’s in it. We can’t let anything take our excitement away. We worked hard to get here and everybody in that locker room is excited to play this game, and we need to be, we should be. You’re not going to take that away from us. You can’t take our joy away from us. Our job is to be able to prepare well, and hopefully that’s good enough to win this ballgame. Everything we put into it to this point, everything we have, we’re going to have to leave on the field, and everything energy-wise we have has got to be geared towards getting that accomplished. That’s where I’m at right now. Hopefully the team feels the same way. You have a locker room full of guys that are happy and excited, and we should be.
Q: What are your first thoughts on Marshawn Lynch?
VW: Beast. I mean, he is an old-school running back that can do everything. There’s not one thing he cannot do. He is very, very, very tough. I remember playing him when he was in Buffalo as a rookie, and I went up to him at the end of the game and I said, ‘You have something special. You’re a hell of a ball player.’ I said, ‘I have to give my hats off to you,’ and he kind of smiled and was like, ‘Thank you.’ It seems like he’s been getting better and better. The more and more you play in the game, it seems like he kicks it to another gear, and that’s a sign of a great football player. He’s hands down the best back in the game because he can hurt you any time he has the ball in his hands. I think it’s going to be so important for us to have more than one defender tackling him because he’s shown over the years what he [can] do. He’ll make some defenses and he’ll make some players look stupid on the football field. I don’t want that feeling, I’ll tell you that. It’s going to be a lot of running for us trying to get to him because he demands that. He’s just a great back.
Q: Were you surprised at the way Tom Brady was attacked yesterday by the press?
VW: It is what it is. Tom is a big boy. He knows how to handle all situations, so he’ll handle this with class like he always does. Negative or positive, he would handle it with class. That’s one thing that makes him so great is how he handles himself off the field and on the field. For him to be attacked the way he [was], trust me, we’ve been attacked plenty of times around here as individuals, as an organization, as a team. It’s not our first rodeo. With that being said, we have a group of guys in there that know what it takes to basically ignore the noise and just focus on what we’re here for and that’s playing football. That’s the only thing we should be focused on is the Seattle Seahawks right now, and the closer and closer we get to the game, the better and better we should start feeling about the game. It’s about to come true, everything you dreamed of coming into the league as a little kid watching on TV some of the greatest players that ever played the game, being able to watch them on Super Bowl Sunday. Everything you dreamed, it’s about to come true. Enjoy this feeling, enjoy this time, [and] feel proud of yourself because we’ve battled a lot, we’ve played a lot of football, we’ve been grinding for a long, long time, and for it to be here is a special moment for us, so we should all cherish that.
Q: Do you or your teammates feel like anyone at the NFL has something to do with the deflated ball controversy?
VW: I’m done with all that. My focus is on Seattle. My job is to help my football team win a football game, and that’s what it’s all going to boil down to Sunday. Nothing that’s going to be said in the media or social media, nothing that’s said is going to carry any type of weight playing the ballgame.
Q: Does dealing with more distractions like this make handling them any easier or harder?
VW: For me, it’s easy because I don’t listen to folks as is.
Q: What message do you try to send to the younger players on the team that aren’t used to this type of spotlight that comes with the Super Bowl?
VW: Just enjoy: enjoy this feeling, enjoy this atmosphere, but at the same time, be prepared. [It] doesn’t get any higher than this. I don’t care what game you play, when you say Super Bowl Sunday, that’s at the top of the list. It’s kind of like the Kentucky Derby and the Breeder’s Cup for horse racing, when you have the best of the best. You have the best three-year olds and then Breeder’s Cup comes around and you’ve got the best aged horses, the best two-year olds, the best three-year olds, the best fillies, the best colts. So you have the best of the best, and that’s where we’re at. We’re at the best of the best. There are only two teams left – Seattle and the Patriots. We’ve got to do everything we can come Sunday to win a ballgame. It’s going to be tough, though.
Q: How does Marshawn Lynch help Russell Wilson?
VW: Well, I think any best friend of the quarterback is the run game and with the backs they have and with Russell Wilson being able to run the ball at will, it makes their offense so dynamic. It’s amazing watching film. They don’t do a lot of exotic stuff. Basically, they go out and they do what they do and they make plays and they execute at a high level, and they’ve been doing it for a couple years now. Obviously saw last year when they went to the [Super] Bowl and they played well together as a team, not just as an offense. Their special teams [is] good, they have a great defense and the offense is very explosive. It’s going to be a challenge all around for us. It’s not just going to be just defensive line or just the defense. It’s going to be all three phases of the ballgame. We have to be able to play well. If we play well, we’ll set ourselves up well in the game, but if we don’t we’ll have problems. That’s the last thing we want, especially against a team like this, to have problems in the game where it can get ugly quick. Most of the times when you see teams scoring a lot of points like that, it’s big plays after big plays and they’re capable of doing that. But at the same time it’s amazing to see them hand the ball off and they can go 70 yards at will if you’re not playing good football. So, we understand that.
Q: Did you guys look at the film of last year’s Super Bowl and see that as an example of how things can get out of hand quick?
VW: No, I mean I’m pretty sure with the time we have, we may run across a couple plays or maybe watch some of that game, but at the same time, it’s a different team. They’ve made changes. We’ve made changes. Obviously, it’s a different opponent they’re facing. But you have to give a lot of credit to their organization, to go back to back being in the ‘ship,’ it’s amazing. That’s good stuff. It doesn’t happen a lot, so they have a lot to be happy about, and I’m pretty sure they’re sitting there saying they want to defend their crown, being Super Bowl champs last year going into this game back to back. You heard it, a lot of them talked about doing it after they won it, being back to back champs. It’s a good feeling to be in this game.
Q: Last year when you got injured, Joe Vellano was one of the players to step up to try to fill your shoes. How do you think he’s progressed these past two years and what do you think about him playing in his first Super Bowl?
VW: Hard work pays off. I’ve seen a lot of guys grow last year. Being out, being away from the game, I’ve seen a lot of guys grow. Like I said, I don’t know if I’m a big brother or a father figure to them. But just to see them grow over the year, it gives me great satisfaction because they’ve done a lot of things around here that they have to learn on the fly. They were thrown into some situations where it’s tough situations now and they handled it well. To do that and all of a sudden now to be at the biggest game of your career, biggest game for all of us this year, they should sit back and feel proud of themselves for what they accomplished over the last year and a half, two years going on because they helped us win a lot of ballgames last year. Even now, a lot of people … We get credit because we play every Sunday, but we have our scout team [and] practice squad, they should get a lot of credit, too, because without them, we can’t get prepared for any team we face. They give us good looks, they give us the looks, they do everything they need to do in practice. So, a lot of credit should go to those guys, but you kind of lose sight of that because they don’t play, they’re just practice squad guys. But they mean a lot to us. They’re just as important as me or [Darrelle] Revis or Tom [Brady]. They’re just as important to us as the starters and the leaders of this team. It’s going to take a team effort and all year they’ve been giving us great leadership from themselves. You have to say a lot about that.
Q: Tom Brady addressed you guys at yesterday’s meeting. Does that help increase your confidence and show what kind of leader he is?
VW: Our confidence should be riding high because we won a ballgame 45-7. So, I think in the AFC Championship Game when you go out and dominate a game like that, it gives you a lot of confidence. We’re a team that’s not lacking confidence. All year we haven’t lacked it. Even when we sucked, we didn’t lack it, but we knew we had to play better.
Q: Is the last Super Bowl trip to Arizona something that drives you?
VW: I don’t think about it. That’s one thing I try not to do is go backwards because every year you change, you have teams change, organizations change, coaches, players – it’s a lot of changing in the NFL. From that time to now, it’s totally different. We’re a different team. We’re facing a different team. The only thing you can take away from being in a game like this is the experience, what it’s like, the longer halftime, stuff like that. You probably have 20 extra minutes or something before the game because of all the stuff going on, but other than playing the game, I don’t try to look at that in any form or fashion.
Q: Do you ever notice when the David Tyree catch shows up on the NFL Network?
VW: Yeah, I notice it, but I don’t too much look at NFL Network when I’m relaxing. I’m too busy looking at cartoons or something.