NFL Media's Oklahoma Drill series presents exclusive, quick-hitting one-on-one interviews with players and coaches from around the league. No nonsense -- just football experiences directly from the source.
Wide receiver, New England Patriots
Born: May 22, 1986
Experience: Eight NFL seasons
Interview by Ali Bhanpuri | Feb. 14, 2017
As a collective team, [Super Bowl LI has] gotta be No. 1 [in my career]. Individually, as far as performance, I felt I could've done a lot of things better. But definitely, obviously, ecstatic about the outcome. But I think there were some things I wish I had back. There was a drop on third down early in the third quarter that I was pissed about. There were just a couple of opportunities that we just didn't connect throughout the game.
I wouldn't say [it was extra satisfying winning Super Bowl LI] -- not like everyone in the media thinks -- but going out and just getting another ring with the group of guys that we had, that was probably [the best part]. ... Obviously, we started with some adversity this year, but the simple fact that we were able to come together as a team, stay together as a team, even when things weren't looking too good. To go out and execute in high-pressure situations, you know, that's when you say, "Man, that was special."
Not quite, because I've been in a bunch of games where it was like a miracle had to happen for you to win.Cleveland in '13. Baltimore two years ago in the Divisional Round. ... There were games that felt completely out of reach -- Denver in '13 when we were down 24 at half. And all of this was going through my head during the game and never got quite to the point where [I lost hope]. Now, if they had went and gotten another touchdown, I don't know how I would've felt then. But I kept on playing it like the situation that we'd play it in practice, so I never really thought we were quite out of it, because, you know, mathematically we weren't, there was still plenty of time to manage.
You're getting a little stud. [Jimmy Garoppolo] is that little slinger. He's a confident guy, works hard. He's handsome -- that's for sure. I don't know how he'd [do] anywhere else, but from playing with him in some games in the regular season and practicing with him, I think he's very good.
[Malcolm Mitchell's] potential is high. He works his tail off. He's a great kid, a humble kid, quiet kid, smart kid. And with all those, it's going to put him in a position to play a lot of football.
People are going to say what they're going to say. I'm not worried what people are saying. Because when they're talking about [my size or labeling me], I just got my second Super Bowl. I'm just focusing on trying to make myself a better player. But, you know, everyone has a right to their opinion.
Your priorities change [when you become a father]. You're not just living for yourself anymore. It used to just be football and my family. And now everything is predicated on giving my daughter the most opportunity I can possibly give her -- just like my parents did for me. It's one of those things where you start thinking differently, start acting differently. It's a blessing in disguise. She's my little good luck charm.
When it comes to contracts and stuff, I keep that pretty internal. I don't really even worry about it. Because, if you're gonna get paid, you're gonna get paid. If something's gonna happen, it's gonna happen. Usually when guys start thinking about that, it takes them out of their game and it's kind of one of those things where I got too many other things to focus on to make myself the best I can possibly be [rather than] talk about stuff that's really not in my control as of now. Of course everyone wants to go out and make as much money as possible, which is always the plan. But that's why you've got your agents -- the team, they handle that -- so I can just focus my mind on football.
Fred Taylor, when I was a rookie, he used to give me a ride to practice in training camp. And I [was] rattled after one of the double-day sessions, and, you know, you sit there as a rookie, you're unfamiliar with the territory. I'm a seventh-round draft pick, a converted quarterback, like I didn't know, I thought the world was falling. And he looked at me and he said, "Buddy, this is going to be a roller coaster. You're going to have high emotions, you're going to have low emotions. But usually the guys who can stay level-minded, who [focus on] what they have to do to improve, are usually the guys who stick around. You can play, you just can't beat yourself up about stupid stuff. You have to have a short memory."
Seeing guys like Tom Brady and how they prepare and their practice habits and how they treat their bodies, it's something to be said, because you come into the league and this guy's already been a three-time Super Bowl champ going into his ninth year or something like that, and you see the way he flies out a quarterback coach to work on technique when you'd probably say, hey man, this guy probably knows what he's doing by now. But guys like that are always just constantly trying to improve themselves. You know, there's an old saying, "When you're green, you grow. When you're ripe, you rot." When you're done learning and you're done trying to improve, that's probably when you hang them up.
There's plenty on the docket. I just want to continue and try to make myself a better football player each year that I can. I still feel that I have an opportunity to do that, just through skill sets ... like [improving] sideline awareness. That was good, and I worked on that a lot this offseason. Downfield attack. Those types of things, those types of plays. I just want to keep on winning and try to be the best football player I can possibly be.