The Patriots will have four honorary captains for Sunday's AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium, all of them members of the 1996 team which won the franchise's second conference championship.
One of the honorary captains will be Troy Brown, who chatted with reporters yesterday about that '96 squad, the current Patriots squad, and what it's like to be on the other side of the media-player relationship.
Brown, who retired in 2008 but last played in 2007 and famously finished his career as a receiver and cornerback, said he has "about five good plays in me offensively. I could probably give you 10 on the defensive side of the ball."
On whether you can feel how close the Super Bowl is when you get to the conference title game:
"For me, now being a retired player, I can speak about that. Before, I would have given you an answer like, ‘We have to play this game first.’ No, I think it is. Just watching, looking at the competition and watching this team play last week and watching how much energy they had in that game, it really is possible that we could be traveling to Indianapolis next week and you and I could be working together. It really is. It’s an exciting time around here. This team hadn’t won a playoff game since 2007 so everybody is excited again. Last week was a pressure-packed game for this football team for the simple fact that they hadn’t won a game. The Boston media and the people here, it was a tough time and they went out and proved that they were still a pretty good football team because they beat Denver the way they should have beat them."
On getting members of the '96 team back together:
"I think Bill [Belichick] has shown them enough film of all the old guys because I’ve heard enough stories about that in the past; him talking about some of his past players and showing them how the game is supposed to be played. To me, I mean really getting to come back and representing the ’96 team this time around, first of all it’s a great gesture from Robert Kraft and the New England Patriots to have us come back and do that. It will be fun for me to get out there and do the coin toss with them again. Hopefully we’ll lose it too, like they’ve been doing all year. It’s a special time. It’s hard for me to believe so many years have passed by so fast. Reflecting back on ’96, you think about all the failures you’ve had and all the great times you’ve had and all the other wins and stuff but just taking me back. I think about all the guys that I went to war with out in all those games and sweated with out there. It will be a special time for us and it will be great to see some of the guys come back too and enjoy this game this weekend."
On whether he's found it difficult to criticize players:
"I really did the first year out of it because I knew so many guys. I really felt bad about talking about them. I started thinking about it, I’m like, well, if Deion Branch came to me when I was playing with him and he asked me, ‘Well how’d I do on that route?’ I wouldn’t be doing him justice or myself or my team by telling him, ‘Don’t worry about it, that was a great route.’ No, I have to tell him, ‘Deion, that sucked.’ So when big Vince [Wilfork] sees me and he sees me on television saying something about his play, he got pancaked or something, he needs to respect that and take something from it. I don’t have a problem saying when a player should have done better or he needs to catch the ball or whatever. I don’t have a problem doing that now because really I’m telling them the truth and doing them a favor. As long as I’m not sitting up here calling them idiots and buffoons and all kind of stuff like that then they shouldn’t have a problem with that and they do understand it."
The Patriots will unveil the rest of Sunday's honorary captains throughout this week.