Patriots quarterback Tom Brady spoke with London reporters on a conference call this afternoon, and as one might expect given that the NFL is still somewhat of a novelty in England, it was a quirkier and more general batch of questions than usual.
Among Brady's responses: He fell in love with football because of Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers, he hopes to play as long as Junior Seau has, and yes, he has great pride in his Irish roots.
To read the entire transcript of his Q&A, as provided by the Patriots' media relations department, click the "full entry" button below.
Can you give us your general thoughts of the game in London and what it means to you and your team to be coming over to London?
Brady: "Sure, weíre all very excited. I think this is a game that weíve all been looking forward to since we heard that we were flying across the Atlantic to play. Itís not too often that we fly East to play a game. And to play in Wembley Stadium, as historic a stadium as in the entire world, I think our team is all very excited for that."
Will you be conscious that this is a different audience on an international stage?
Brady: "Sure, for us, the jobís the same. When the ball is kicked off, the rules are the same for us, the fieldís the same size, weíre playing an opponent that we studied all week. Obviously, the venue is different and weíre in a different part of the world, but I know the excitement that the English fans have for sports, especially their favorite sport, which is their Ďfootball.í Hopefully, we can bring some excitement and continue to have some fans from across the world enjoy the game that we love here in America."
How do you prepare to go across the Atlantic with the time change?
Brady: "Yeah, we are leaving a few days early. We are leaving Thursday after our practice. I think we get in pretty early Friday morning. We will have a couple days to get acclimated to the time change. The weather is pretty similar in London as it is here in Boston, so weíre pretty familiar with that. Itís just going to be trying to get our rest before the game on both Friday night and all day Saturday, and really come out and play with a lot of excitement and energy because itís a special game for us. This is a game that weíll be remembering for the next 40, 50 years of our life, so we all want to go out and play as well as we can."
Has Robert Kraft put any extra pressure on you to impress the locals?
Brady: "Heís as excited as anybody to play this game. I think this has been something that heís been looking forward to for a long time. He always puts a lot of pressure on me to go out there and play my best. Thereís nothing I would rather do than go out there and have our best game of the year. We had a pretty good game this last weekend, in the snow actually, here in Boston. Hopefully, it doesnít snow this weekend in London, but this would be a great game for us all to go out there and play our best."
What does this comeback mean to you? The beginning of year hasnít been going well, youíve been a little bit rusty and last week you had this startling performance. Is it a personal challenge for you to make a comeback?
Brady: "I think missing all of last season was a very challenging experience because I love to play the game, I love to play the sport, and to not have the opportunity to be out there with my teammates in a season where we had some great opportunities to repeat what we had done in the 2007 season Ö But things happen. Itís a very physical sport, football is. I had an unfortunate injury, but I think itís really helped me grow in a lot of ways Ė as a person, as a player, as a teammate. It really reinforces how much I enjoy playing the game and how much I love the game. And to have the chance to go out this year and play, itís great."
Do you think the team is playing as well as you were in the Super Bowl season, when you went 18-0 and then lost to the Giants?
Brady: "That loss to the Giants was a tough loss for us. We had played such a great season and then to play not at the level we had played was unfortunate in that game. But thatís part of the competition of the game and thatís what motivates you and drives you to go out there every week and try to perform better. Even though you have great seasons, the ultimate goal is to win the championship. Every time we start the season, thereís really one goal for our team and thatís to do just that. So [the goals is] not [to go] undefeated, or to set any kind of record, [itís] just to go out there and win a Super Bowl ring. Thatís what our driving force is."
How would you describe your season so far?
Brady: "Well, I think itís been a little bit inconsistent for us; thatís probably the word to use. At moments, weíve gone out there and played pretty good football; we executed well, we havenít had any missed assignments. And at other times we played very well. Itís just a matter of us going out there and playing a consistent game over the course of 60 minutes in all three phases of the game -- offense, defense, special teams. When we play a real complimentary game, it puts a lot of pressure on the opposing team, like we did this last weekend where we played obviously the best game of the year and the outcome was 59-0. Not to say every weekís going to be like that, but your margin of error is much greater when everyone is playing the way they are capable of playing."
Can you pick out one moment when you were growing up that inspired you to become an American football player?
Brady: "I grew up in the state of California, which is on the West Coast of the United States, and there was a great football team -- the San Francisco 49ers. That was probably the dominant team when I was a teenager and they had a quarterback named Joe Montana, who was my favorite player. I used to go to a lot of games, and sit up in the stands and watch him play. They had won three Super Bowls when he was there -- four, actually -- but three that I could really remember. I remember going to the parades that they had after the game where they won and he was the one I always wanted to see. That was really where my love for the game started and I started playing when I was about 12 years old in high school. Since I started playing, as a team sport, itís really the ultimate game and Iíve always been attracted to that. Iíve had some great teammates over the course of my career and a lot of great friends and teammates on this team as well.
Is there danger that you underestimate the Buccaneers because they havenít won a game yet this year?
Brady: "We donít underestimate anybody and the reason is because every team has its strengths and weaknesses. Every team is good in their own way. Obviously, Tampa Bay has not played the way they were hoping theyíd play this year. But every week is entirely different and they have players who have won Super Bowls on that team and every team is dangerous. We donít ever take anybody lightly. We go out there and we prepare the same way every week and weíve got to go out there and have a great week of practice this week so we can go perform well on Sunday."
There is a little bit more hype than usual because of the venue this week, can you throw us some parallels between this and your experience in the Super Bowl?
Brady: "I think weíll really start feeling that emotion once we get over to London. Hopefully, thereís a lot of excitement over there for the game. Weíre very excited. Weíve been at this season now for about three months and this game weíve all been excited about since we saw it on the roster. Weíve got to go out there and really have our best week so we can go out there and play our best this weekend. Itís not an easy game. Itís tough. We havenít won a game on the road yet, so thatís going to be a challenge for us. [That is] something that weíre looking forward to -- trying to get our first win [on the road]."
Can you tell us about your previous experiences in London?
Brady: "Iíve been to London a couple times. Iíve been over there as a tourist a couple times. Iíve seen all the sights. Iíve taken the tours. Iíve walked the streets. Iíve really enjoyed being in England. Iíve been in other parts of the [United Kingdom] as well. I love golf, so Iíve been golfing in Ireland and Scotland as well. Iíve really enjoyed my time over there. Anyone whoís been over to that part of the world comes away with a greater sense of history. I know this will be a great experience for the players."
"I know you have a little bit of Irish blood in you and I was wondering if youíve researched your ancestry in Ireland at all?
Brady: "I think weíre from Country Cork. Itís been many generations. My father is 100-percent Irish. We took a trip over there together and visited some of the places where my family came from. That was a great experience for me and obviously I am very proud of my Irish roots."
What do you see on film when you look at the Buccaneers? They are going awfully young this year. Do you see some players there that they can build around?
Brady: "I think theyíve got some very active players on the front, an athletic group of linebackers. And anytime Ronde Barberís in the secondary -- and Aqib Talib, heís a great player -- itís a real dangerous defense. They are all fast and aggressive. We watched quite a bit of film on them yesterday. Today, weíre actually getting started on our preparation as a team for the game. Itís always been, historically, a great defensive team. They can make a lot of plays on defense. Theyíve had quite a few interceptions this year. Itís going to be a good challenge for our offense. This is always a challenge -- in style of play -- for us. Weíve always had very tough games against Tampa and this one will be no different."
Game preparation is one thing, how concerned are you about the aftermath? I know you have the bye week coming after this game. But going forward are you worried at all the travel and the hype might take a toll for a few weeks?
Brady: "There are a lot of teams that travel. Playing in the Northeast, we typically donít have to travel much. There are a lot of teams that travel from the West Coast to the East Coast on a regular basis. We never really have to do that. When it comes up, it comes up. You take the flight, and you get off the plane and you play. I think part of being mental and tough as a football player is to play in any condition, to play on any travel schedule, to play against any opponent and I think thatís what being a mentally tough team is. This game comes up, itís a long flight, but weíll be prepared for it. Weíll have our energy and weíll be ready to go by the time the ball is kicked off."
The Tampa Bay Bucs are trying to build something here and theyíre finding out thereís no easy way to rebuild a franchise. From your perspective, what do you think has been the key to building what you guys have?
Brady: "I think it always starts with the top. It starts with the ownership, Robert Kraft and Jonathan Kraft. They hired probably the best coach in the history of the NFL, Coach [Bill] Belichick. Heís controlled the personnel, he brings in the players he wants and he brings players that fit in -- not only to the system that wants to play offense and defense -- but also that buy into what the concept of team is. Youíve got to put the individual goals aside. And he finds players like Junior Seau, Kevin Faulk, Randy Moss, that just want to come in here and win games. Itís not so much about making the Pro Bowls, becoming an all-star, and being the highest paid player. What itís about is going out there and buying into the team goals are greater than any individual goals or successes that you may have. Thatís what this teamís all about. Thatís where it starts and -- pretty much -- thatís where it ends."
Do you have any specific concerns with your knee on the field at Wembley? A few years ago, when the Giants and Dolphins played the field, cooked up a little bit.
Brady: "I really donít have any concerns. Iíve played in almost -- I guess this is going to be my 10th or 11th game since the injury, so my leg feels really strong. I feel like Iíve had a lot of time on the practice field to get back into the rhythm of playing. Yeah, I watched that game a few years ago on that turf and itís a soccer field, so I guess itís pretty flat and the grass is a little bit longer, which hopefully slows down the pass rush of Tampa Bay. Thatís what Iím hoping. I always like it when theyíre as far away from me as possible. Iíve heard great things about this stadium; itís an incredible stadium. Iíve seen it on TV and Iíve watched a lot of European soccer also, so Iím very familiar with the grounds weíre playing on and Iím hoping to go in there and get a victory this weekend."
With Junior Seau back playing at the ripe old age of 40, does it make you think at all about how long youíd like to play? Have you set yourself any targets for the next few years?
Brady: "Thereís no telling. A lot of the things arenít in your control. If it was up to me, Iíd play as long as I could until possibly someone didnít want me anymore. Quarterbacks typically can play quite a bit longer than most positions just because we donít really get the physical abuse that a lot of positions get, whether itís a running back, or an offensive or defensive lineman. So I want to play for a long time. IĎd love to play for as long as Juniorís been playing. Thatís great motivation for me. You see when youíre around him that his attitude is whatís most important to him. And thereís nobody that has a better attitude than Junior Seau, when it comes to practicing and being ready to go out and perform."
Is there any reason that you canít be a better player than you were before the injury? Do you think you can be a better player?
Brady: "Yeah, I certainly do. Every time that I take the field, thereís something that I'm learning and something that Iím trying to do better. It never stops. Itís one of those games that -- itís a very challenging game -- and you really get out of it what you put into it. There are no shortcuts in football. You have to do the work. Physically and mentally, you have to be prepared, and emotionally you have to go out there and give it your all. If you donít, youíre going to pay the price. Iím prepared to do that and itís something that Iíve made a commitment in my life to do. I really enjoy going out there and playing every week."
Some people say you are the best quarterback to ever play the game. Do you have an ambition to put that argument to bed and prove that?
Brady: "I think Joe Montana is the best -- thatís ever -- player. I donít think Iíll ever be as good as heíll [was]. Iím resigned to the fact that Iím going to be the best I can be. And, really, to compare players of different eras, I donít think is ever fair. To compare players of the same era is very challenging. Everyone deals with different circumstances on the team, different changes throughout the team every year. I think whatís most important to me is that I have the respect for the players and coaches that Iím on the team with and that I give everything I have every time I take the field. Thatís whatís most important."
After the game against Tennessee, how much trust do you have in your rookie left tackle Sebastian Vollmer and what do you think of him?
Brady: "Sebastian is a great player. Heís a great player. Heís playing left tackle for us and that position -- itís a tough thing to come into. But Sebastian is a smart player. Heís big, heís physical, and heís tough. Iím really excited that heís on this team and that he had the chance to go out there and play this last weekend. It just tells you itís a strong position for us when our starting tackle can go down and Sebastian can step in and play the way he did. But thatís what his job is and thatís what heís prepared to do."
You talked about the concept that New England is a big part of your success. But is it ever awkward for you to get the attention as the quarterback and the Pro Bowl leader of this team? Do you ever want to just be one of the guys in terms of the media coverage and things like that?
Brady: "You know, I think you come to accept that the quarterback gets a lot of the attention and thatís just the role weíre in. I think I am definitely one of the guys and I am one of the 53 players that contribute on this team. And Coach Belichick always has a saying: he just says, ĎDo your job.í I donít play left tackle. I donít play defensive back. I play quarterback and my job is to go out there and do that as best I know how. Iím pretty confident in what I can do and part of the attention that comes with that, you have to take that for what itís worth and go out there and do your best every week. As a quarterback, you do get a lot of attention, especially a successful one, but itís really because of all the people around me and thatís really where I take my satisfaction."