Patriots Notebook

There's a real desert breeze

Belichick has fun with media

Patriots fans turned out in full force to give their team rousing sendoff yesterday at Gillette Stadium. The team faces the Giants in Super Bowl XLII Sunday. Patriots fans turned out in full force to give their team rousing sendoff yesterday at Gillette Stadium. The team faces the Giants in Super Bowl XLII Sunday. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)
Email|Print| Text size + By Christopher L. Gasper and Mike Reiss
Globe Staff / January 28, 2008

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - If the Patriots are to take a cue from coach Bill Belichick this week, look for the team to be loose and at ease. Belichick was just that upon arrival in Arizona last night, engaging reporters on several occasions as Super Bowl week officially kicked off.

At one point, when Belichick couldn't locate a reporter among the masses who was asking a question, he joked that he was playing a game of "Marco Polo." Belichick also touched on the personal life of quarterback Tom Brady, a topic that usually would be off limits.

He opened his remarks by apologizing for the team arriving late, joked with a Boston-based reporter who introduced herself before asking a question, and later asked another Boston reporter if he was going to deliver a "softball" question.

As for his emotions upon arriving in Arizona last night, Belichick said: "I think the emotions were that we were surprised it was raining."

Later in his opening news conference, Belichick was asked how much he disdains the process of answering questions from the media during Super Bowl week. His answer might have surprised some in attendance, showing empathy for those in front of him.

"I think you all have a job to do and you're our connection between our football team and our fans, and people who have an interest in the game. I respect the job that you do, and hopefully you respect the job that I have to do," he said.

"I understand that sometimes I can't give you everything you're looking for, but I do know this is a conduit of information from the team to the fans, and the fans are what drives the game. I'm all for it. Nobody is more in favor of this game than I am."

Belichick also took time to touch on what arriving at the Super Bowl meant to the Patriots.

"On behalf of the organization it's a privilege to be here, representing the AFC," he said. "I certainly have a lot of respect for the Giants, it's an organization I have quite a bit of history with, and a lot of respect [for], and certainly a lot of fond memories from the years I was there. But, for this week, we'll turn the page and it should be a great competition on Sunday."

Light defended

Brady came to the defense of his All-Pro left tackle, Matt Light, who was tacitly charged with being a dirty player by Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora in comments made on HBO's "Inside the NFL" last week.

"Matt plays hard. We have a bunch of guys on our team that play hard and he's a big part of the offensive line and what they do," said Brady. "Any time your left tackle has a Pro Bowl season you as a quarterback you owe him an awful lot.

"I don't think he's really a dirty player. I think football is a very tough game. It's about hitting, it's about blocking, and it's about tackling. You play until the whistle blows. Sometimes contact persists a little bit beyond the whistle, but I don't really think that's the case with Matt. Maybe with Rodney [ Harrison]."

Brady smiled as he delivered the last line, to laughter among the media members in attendance.

Pace yourself

Belichick noted the importance of pacing the team through the week. From past Super Bowl experience, he indicated it is a great challenge.

"It's something you have to get a feel for," he said. "You don't want to leave it out on the [practice] field during the week, but at the same time you don't want to be running around the day before the game, having questions like, 'What are we going to do on this, what are we going to do on that?'

"I think you just try to pace yourself through it, both physically and mentally, but at the same time keep new challenges in front of them on a daily basis, so it's not just going review, review, review. It's not that easy to do, because we have a lot more time to prepare."

He's not forgotten

So far, wide receiver Randy Moss has been contained in the playoffs after having a record-setting regular season. Moss, who set an NFL record with 23 touchdown receptions, hasn't found the end zone in the playoffs and has been held to just one catch in each playoff game.

He had one catch for 14 yards in the divisional win over Jacksonville and one catch for 18 yards in the AFC Championship game against the Chargers.

"A lot of our offense is based on what the defense is giving us and if they dictate that they're going to try to take one person out of the game we will give them that," said Brady. "I thought San Diego played extremely well. I think Jacksonville did a great job. I'm sure that he was a big point of emphasis. I'm sure for the Giants he'll be a big point of emphasis . . . but I never lose track of him.

"I know he works extremely hard to get open and I know he's in the right place. We have to find ways to get him the ball because he's an important part of this offense and if they choose to put double coverage on him you got to find other places to throw, and you got to hand the ball off. If they come out of the game and they feel like they stopped one player and we win, if that happens great. The goal is to win the game. You don't want to just throw to somebody who is covered with two and three guys."

Apple of his eye?

After he was photographed while visiting New York, Brady was asked if he still feels the same way about the city. "I like beating New York teams," he said. "This is our fourth opportunity to beat a New York team." Brady then paused, before saying: "It was an interesting week. I'm much lighter on my toes than I thought. I was glad to be back in Boston, back in the insulated halls of our locker room." . . . Belichick reflected on linebacker Junior Seau being named a team captain, and noted that Seau received an equal amount of votes from offensive and defensive players . . . When asked if this Super Bowl is more significant than the other three he won as coach of the Patriots, Belichick said: "Whichever one you're in is the most important."

No tackling this one

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi seemed taken aback when asked by a reporter about his chances of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. At first, he brushed off the question. When a reporter then asked him about the Hall of Fame chances of some teammates, Bruschi said he wouldn't answer the question and "seriously doubted" that any of his teammates would either. When a different reporter started to ask a question, a serious-looking Bruschi turned back to the reporter who asked about the Hall of Fame and said: "If anybody does [answer the question], let me know because I need to talk to them." . . . Belichick and six players are scheduled to hold news conferences today at 3:30 p.m. . . . The Giants are scheduled to arrive in Phoenix today at approximately 2:45 p.m. . . . The Associated Press is reporting that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is interested in speaking with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo about his team's head coaching vacancy. McDaniel previously declined opportunities to interview with the Ravens and Falcons about their head coach openings . . . Alicia Keys and "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks will perform in the Super Bowl pregame show . . . Former Boston College star and coach and Patriots coach Mike Holovak died yesterday at 88.

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