Not hard to hear in Torry Holt’s voice how deeply he loves football. But he’d rather show you.
And that’s by putting his mangled middle finger on his left hand on display (Thanks to the iPhone for that picture on the right). To Holt, it’s a monument to the work he’s put in over the years, and a salute to old-school tough guys like Deacon Jones and Merlin Olsen.
“One game, we’re in Seattle, and I came off the jam and it popped out,” Holt said. “If you see the film, I’m popping it back in, running, the ball’s thrown, I catch it, get up, give the ball to the ref, make sure my finger’s (back in), run out, get it taped a little bit, run back in.
“There’s times where it pops out during the play, but I’m so subtle, I pop it back in. I’ve gotten better than the trainers in terms of popping fingers back in. But, again, it’s just a symbol of the work I’ve put in the National Football League. The reason I like it because it’s like a symbol of . . . I’m representing the old school players.”
Holt said today that he originally set out to his play 10 years in the NFL, and that he’s in line for a 12th season as a pro is simply a product of how much he likes to play. So here he is, at a position where the Patriots have as many options as they do questions … Can Wes Welker come back? Can David Patten still play? Can the young guys develop?
On that last one — as we mentioned earlier in the week — Holt might be able to help. He played a role in Mike Sims-Walker’s development in Jacksonville, and it stands to reason he might be able to do the same for Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate and Taylor Price.
“I would like to think I had a pretty good role in (Sims-Walker’s) development,” Holt said. “Just trying to show by example. Not doing anything out of the ordinary. I’m just showing up for work every day enjoying what it is I like to do and then going out on Sundays and trying to make it work.
“I think Mike had a really good year last year. He stepped out and did
some great things. Hopefully this year he can continue. It’s about
consistency in this league. Now teams know about Mike Sims-Walker. They had a whole
year to study him. What he does well, what he don’t do well. They’re
studying him and he has to counter that.
“Those are the things you have
to talk to young receivers about. That was one of the things I talked
to (Edelman) about. Now teams have a year to study you. They know what
you do well, what you don’t do well, how they like to use you. Now you
have to put yourself in a position where you can counter that, give
yourself some more options.”
Holt was engaging and candid in about 16 minutes with all of us out there. Here’s some more of what we got …
On talking with Tom Brady: “Yeah, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Tom. I’ve got a lot of respect for Tom. He’s a competitor, definitely someone that takes a lot of pride in his craft at the quarterback position. That’s what you’ve got to have. The quarterback position is very key in the National Football League, as we all know, and this is a guy that takes that position very seriously. So I’m looking forward to continue my relationship with him and working with him this year.”
On similarities in attention-to-detail and precision from Mike Martz’s offense to the New England system: “The No. 1 thing coming from Coach Martz’s system and now coming into this system is they demand. It’s a level of excellence that they try to achieve here in New England. Obviously, look at what they’ve done in the past decade, and that’s what you want. As a player, that’s what you want. If it’s not your cup of tea, then you don’t belong here, so that’s the No. 1 thing that I noticed. They’re not afraid to excel. Their thing is excellence, strive for it, shoot for it and try to attain it. I think that’s outstanding.”
On his influences: “I had a number of guys. Isaac Bruce, Ricky Proehl, Marshall Faulk, Ernie Conwell, Coach Martz, I was fortunate, the list goes on and on. I was fortunate when I came into the NFL 12 years ago that worked that paid attention to the details. Our best players were the hardest workers. For someone like myself there was no room for me to slack off, no room for me to be a prima donna because that was the standard. The guys I had in front of me showed me the way.”
On Randy Moss: “I know Randy … I don’t know Randy probably as well as the guys in the locker room know him, but I’m a fan of Randy Moss. I’ve always liked what he does on the football field; he’s a flat-out phenomenal football player in this league. The things he does on the football field and how easy he makes it, it’s like ‘wow,’ you know, so I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work with him and hopefullly we can just continue to be productive and show ’em how it’s done.”
On Bill Belichick: “Over the years I’ve gained a tremendous amount of respect for coach Belihick and the way he prepares his football team, the seriousness and the professionalism in which they take the football field year in and year out is glaringly evident. And for me, you know, you sit back and you say, ‘wow. What would it be like to be part of that?’ Especially if you’re striving for excellence, if you’re striving to compete every year, be an elite football team, the New Engand Patriots is one of those organizations now that you want to be part of. And coach Belichick and Mr. Kraft, they built that.”