Defensive end Chandler Jones, the Patriots’ top pick in the draft out of Syracuse, met the media at Gillette Stadium today. Here’s the transcript of the Q&A, provided by the Patriots media relations staff.
Q: As the younger brother of an NFL defensive lineman and a UFC champion, how did you survive?
CJ: To be honest with you, I was protected. My older brothers, they’ll look over me. Whenever I get in trouble, they’re always there to watch my back.
Q: When you say watch your back, you mean in the house right?
CJ: Definitely. Out on the street, in class, in school – we went to the same school, same middle school, same high school, so not just in the house, but in the streets as well.
Q: Do they ever mess with you at home?
CJ: No, not at all.
Q: You never wrestled in the house?
CJ: We wrestled a lot. We wrestled a lot, but it was for play. Actually, my dad had bought some wrestling mats and we used to wrestle down in the basement all the time.
Q: Who won?
CJ: Jon. He was always better.
Q: Being what he is, did he wrestle by the official rules?
CJ: Jon was a state champion in high school and he was a national champion in college. For him to be a professional fighter now is just a blessing. He’s doing what he loves to do.
Q: Is it crazy when you watch him?
CJ: It’s wild. I get more nervous for his fights than my own football games. I’m going out there, I’m sitting out there in the front row in the family seats; it’s a lot of tension leading up to the fight. He’s usually the main event, so I’m sitting there and my stomach is boiling waiting for him to come up in the octagon. He’s really good at doing what he does and kudos go to him.
Q: What has this day been like for you and how long will you be in town? What’s the plan?
CJ: This day has been long. You guys have been here probably all day waiting for me. I had a flight from Syracuse straight to Boston, a direct flight, it supposed to land at 12:13 p.m. There was a flight delay from aircraft maintenance. They changed it over. I had to go to New York City to Boston. I didn’t know I was going to come here for a press conference. I was in my hoodie and my jeans and they were like, ‘You have to come here and wear a suit tomorrow,’ and I was like ‘Oh.’ I was at my brother Jon’s house. I was like, ‘Do you have any shirts that fit me?’ ‘I have a purple shirt.’ The arms aren’t even long enough, I had to roll the sleeves up and he got me some shoes. But I have enjoyed this day. I’m enjoying the whole process, even the draft process and I’m happy to be a New England Patriot.
Q: How would you describe your game?
CJ: I wouldn’t describe my game as an individual. I wouldn’t call myself a pass rusher or a run stopper. When I watch film, basically I just look at all the greats and take little things from all those guys, each individual and try to add it to my game.
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Q: You’re coming from a place where there hasn’t been as much football success as you may have liked. Are you excited to come to the Patriots because of the team’s success?
CJ: Believe it or not, I strongly believe Syracuse University is on the rise. I’m from Syracuse University. Coach [Doug] Marrone is doing a great job up there. To play under a coach like Coach Belichick is a great opportunity. He has great experience and I’m happy to be here, I really am.
Q: What did you think of the Patriots and Coach Belichick before you got that call last night?
CJ: I was always a Patriots fan, always been a Patriots fan – very successful team. But when I got the call, words can’t explain the way I felt. Going into it, I didn’t know if I was going to laugh, didn’t know if I was going to cry, didn’t know if I was going to faint. But if you guys watched the pick on TV, I was smiling from ear-to-ear. You guys can tell, I’m really happy to be here, really.
Q: Who are some of the greats that you do watch and take from?
CJ: I wouldn’t really get into names at all. In high school, I didn’t really watch film; I didn’t watch film at all. Making the transition from high school to college, I started to watch more film. Making the transition from college to the professional level, just watching football in general. If I’m watching football and I see ‘X’ and ‘Y’ team and I see a guy go around the corner and make a play, I say, ‘Oh, let me rewind that. Okay, that’s nice. Let me try to add that to my game.’ So I wouldn’t say a specific name, but just you know if I see something good, I try to add it to my game and try to put it in my repertoire.
Q: You faced a lot of triple teams in college. Do you think you’ll get that same attention here? And what’s the story with you not wearing a suit jacket today that Mr. Kraft talked about?
CJ: That’s a good question. In college, I was double- and triple-teamed a lot – it’s funny that you brought that up. I have no expectations as far as what’s going to happen to me at this level. I was told about it – my brother plays for the Ravens – but I really don’t know until I get out there. As far as me being a rookie, my job right now is to know my role. Take whatever I can from whoever, anyone from Dont’a Hightower to all the veterans on that defense and front seven. For me being a rookie, I’m just going to be a sponge and just learn what I can. As far as my jacket, like I said, I didn’t know I was coming here and my brother didn’t have a full suit that fit me. He had suits but his suits stopped like right here [at my elbow]. So I was like, you know what, ‘I’m going to go without the jacket. You just give me a shirt and I’ll just roll it up. Give me some jewelry and I’ll be fine.’
Q: At Syracuse you played primarily with your hand on the ground. Did you play with your hand up as well?
CJ: There were different schemes where I played with my hand down and hand up. I feel like personally I probably could play both.
Q: Three months ago in the AFC Championship, who were you rooting for?
CJ: That’s a good question. I try not to get into that, I try not to.
Q: You going to be a politician after your career?
CJ: We’ll see.
Q: I have to imagine at some point you probably spoke with your brother and thought this might happen.
CJ: To be honest with you, I never brought that up with my brother. Now that we’re here today, I sit back and look at it like, ‘Whoa.’ I never brought that up.
Q: What was his reaction to you being drafted?
CJ: Both of my brothers were happy. My brother, Jon, the light heavyweight champion, he threw water on me. I don’t know if you guys saw it on ESPN, but there was water all over my grey hoodie. He was smiling from ear-to-ear. Everybody was happy. As far as the distance, my mother was actually crying the few nights leading up to the draft because she didn’t know where I was going to go. I could be in Texas, I could be in California. But it’s a three-hour drive. How close it is from my hometown, I could have driven here and this press conference would be over. But my whole family is happy. They’re very supportive. I just thank God for them.
Q: Were you wearing a grey hoodie for a reason?
CJ: No, I woke up and –
Q: You get it right?
CJ: Yeah, I got you. That was a good one.
Q: Do you know anyone in this locker room? Have you crossed paths? I know you spoke with Dont’a Hightower at the combine.
CJ: No, I don’t. I know who they are; I’m a fan. That’s one thing I’ll have to get out of fan mode when I see Tom Brady walk by, being like ‘Oh, that was Tom Brady.’ I’m kidding. But I don’t know anyone. I haven’t met anyone. I’m looking forward to meeting all the guys. Like I said, it’s a great opportunity.
Q: They’ve brought in a lot of Syracuse guys this year. It must be nice to see a small level of familiarity with some guys in the locker room.
CJ: Yeah, I heard Steve Gregory was here; Will Allen was here. I haven’t met them. Those guys were before my time at Syracuse, but I watched them growing up. I’m looking forward to meeting them, I really am.
Q: You have a friendly disposition with us. Does that change when you’re on the field? Do you become a beast?
CJ: I wouldn’t put a label on myself. I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Oh, I flip the switch on and off.’ The way I play, I’m relaxed. That’s how I play better; I don’t know if you guys watch film. I’m not going to sit here and call myself a beast or I’m untamed or all that. I don’t get into that at all. I’m the same person all the time. I know when it’s time to play and when it’s time to sit here and talk to the media.
Q: Are you familiar with Dwight Freeney? Any personal connection?
CJ: I’ve seen him. As far as personal connection, no. I’ve seen him. He comes to our campus to work out in the summer. Probably shook his hand once or twice, but as far as a personal connection, no.