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, we’re all very excited. I think this is a game that we’ve all been looking forward to since we heard that we were flying across the Atlantic to play. It’s 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 job’s the same. When the ball is kicked off, the rules are the same for us, the field’s the same size, we’re playing an opponent that we studied all week. Obviously, the venue is different and we’re 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 ‘football.’ 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 we’re pretty familiar with that. It’s 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 it’s a special game for us. This is a game that we’ll 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: “He’s as excited as anybody to play this game. I think this has been something that he’s 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. There’s 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 doesn’t 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 hasn’t been going well, you’ve 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 … But things happen. It’s a very physical sport, football is. I had an unfortunate injury, but I think it’s really helped me grow in a lot of ways – 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, it’s 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 that’s part of the competition of the game and that’s 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, there’s really one goal for our team and that’s to do just that. So [the goals is] not [to go] undefeated, or to set any kind of record, [it’s] just to go out there and win a Super Bowl ring. That’s what our driving force is.”
How would you describe your season so far?
Brady: “Well, I think it’s been a little bit inconsistent for us; that’s probably the word to use. At moments, we’ve gone out there and played pretty good football; we executed well, we haven’t had any missed assignments. And at other times we played very well. It’s 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 week’s 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, it’s really the ultimate game and I’ve always been attracted to that. I’ve 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 haven’t won a game yet this year?
Brady: “We don’t 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 they’d 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 don’t ever take anybody lightly. We go out there and we prepare the same way every week and we’ve 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 we’ll really start feeling that emotion once we get over to London. Hopefully, there’s a lot of excitement over there for the game. We’re very excited. We’ve been at this season now for about three months and this game we’ve all been excited about since we saw it on the roster. We’ve got to go out there and really have our best week so we can go out there and play our best this weekend. It’s not an easy game. It’s tough. We haven’t won a game on the road yet, so that’s going to be a challenge for us. [That is] something that we’re looking forward to — trying to get our first win [on the road].”
Can you tell us about your previous experiences in London?
Brady: “I’ve been to London a couple times. I’ve been over there as a tourist a couple times. I’ve seen all the sights. I’ve taken the tours. I’ve walked the streets. I’ve really enjoyed being in England. I’ve been in other parts of the [United Kingdom] as well. I love golf, so I’ve been golfing in Ireland and Scotland as well. I’ve really enjoyed my time over there. Anyone who’s 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 you’ve researched your ancestry in Ireland at all?
Brady: “I think we’re from Country Cork. It’s 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 they’ve got some very active players on the front, an athletic group of linebackers. And anytime Ronde Barber’s in the secondary — and Aqib Talib, he’s a great player — it’s a real dangerous defense. They are all fast and aggressive. We watched quite a bit of film on them yesterday. Today, we’re actually getting started on our preparation as a team for the game. It’s always been, historically, a great defensive team. They can make a lot of plays on defense. They’ve had quite a few interceptions this year. It’s going to be a good challenge for our offense. This is always a challenge — in style of play — for us. We’ve 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 don’t 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 that’s what being a mentally tough team is. This game comes up, it’s a long flight, but we’ll be prepared for it. We’ll have our energy and we’ll be ready to go by the time the ball is kicked off.”
The Tampa Bay Bucs are trying to build something here and they’re finding out there’s 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. He’s 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. You’ve 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. It’s not so much about making the Pro Bowls, becoming an all-star, and being the highest paid player. What it’s about is going out there and buying into the team goals are greater than any individual goals or successes that you may have. That’s what this team’s all about. That’s where it starts and — pretty much — that’s 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 don’t have any concerns. I’ve 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 I’ve 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 it’s a soccer field, so I guess it’s pretty flat and the grass is a little bit longer, which hopefully slows down the pass rush of Tampa Bay. That’s what I’m hoping. I always like it when they’re as far away from me as possible. I’ve heard great things about this stadium; it’s an incredible stadium. I’ve seen it on TV and I’ve watched a lot of European soccer also, so I’m very familiar with the grounds we’re playing on and I’m 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 you’d like to play? Have you set yourself any targets for the next few years?
Brady: “There’s no telling. A lot of the things aren’t in your control. If it was up to me, I’d play as long as I could until possibly someone didn’t want me anymore. Quarterbacks typically can play quite a bit longer than most positions just because we don’t really get the physical abuse that a lot of positions get, whether it’s a running back, or an offensive or defensive lineman. So I want to play for a long time. I‘d love to play for as long as Junior’s been playing. That’s great motivation for me. You see when you’re around him that his attitude is what’s most important to him. And there’s 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 can’t 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, there’s something that I’m learning and something that I’m trying to do better. It never stops. It’s one of those games that — it’s 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 don’t, you’re going to pay the price. I’m prepared to do that and it’s something that I’ve 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 — that’s ever — player. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good as he’ll [was]. I’m resigned to the fact that I’m going to be the best I can be. And, really, to compare players of different eras, I don’t 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 what’s most important to me is that I have the respect for the players and coaches that I’m on the team with and that I give everything I have every time I take the field. That’s what’s 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. He’s a great player. He’s playing left tackle for us and that position — it’s a tough thing to come into. But Sebastian is a smart player. He’s big, he’s physical, and he’s tough. I’m really excited that he’s on this team and that he had the chance to go out there and play this last weekend. It just tells you it’s a strong position for us when our starting tackle can go down and Sebastian can step in and play the way he did. But that’s what his job is and that’s what he’s 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 that’s just the role we’re 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, ‘Do your job.’ I don’t play left tackle. I don’t play defensive back. I play quarterback and my job is to go out there and do that as best I know how. I’m pretty confident in what I can do and part of the attention that comes with that, you have to take that for what it’s 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 it’s really because of all the people around me and that’s really where I take my satisfaction.”