HEAD COACH BRUCE ARIANS
(On if Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes could be the next player to chase QB Tom Brady's all-time records at the position)
"I think there's so much that goes into that. There are 21 other guys on your team. If it was a throwing contest, hell yeah, he's going to get it. But, there's a lot of things that happen in different seasons and what Tom has done is historic. There's no doubt that if there was a player who could do it, it would be Patrick."
(On how taking risks has been influential throughout his coaching career)
"You can't hit a home run unless you're going to swing for one. You can't do anything special in life sitting on a fence. The question back then was, 'If there was a quarterback that was a free agent, who would you want?' Of course, it was Tom Brady, not thinking he'd become a free agent. Once he did, it was a pursuit that we wanted to make and [we] knew he had some interest. That's how you live life. Do you sit and live in a closet trying to be safe, [or are] you going to have some fun?"
(On CB Sean Murphy-Bunting's recent success and how it impacts his confidence entering the Super Bowl)
"Sean's been playing through a bunch of injuries and I think most people don't realize it. When you get three picks against those guys, you should be playing with a ton of confidence. He's playing extremely well right now outside and inside."
(On how the game against the Chicago Bears helped the team turn a corner this season)
"When we came back and looked at the film, [we saw] 11 or 12 penalties, turnovers – it was us beating the hell out of ourselves. We knew we were a good football team, [but] we couldn't win that way. The players took it upon themselves to become one of the least penalized teams in the league from then on out."
(On how he was certain Byron Leftwich would be a good coach)
"When you look at pro quarterbacks who have made a pretty good amount of money, coaching isn't something they look forward to. I knew [after] having him as a player – I thought Charlie Batch [and] Kelly Holcomb all would have been great coaches. Kelly decided, 'No, I'm going to stay with my family.' Charlie decided he had other interests. Byron, it was just a matter of keep plugging away until he got bored and wanted to do something with his life. He's very young, so I just kept hammering him and I think once he got in there for that spring, he realized, 'Yeah, coach. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.'"
(On when the team ramps up its practice in preparation for the Super Bowl)
"We ramp it up this week because there's so many obligations with the media next week [that] you don't want to try to teach your gameplan. We'll ramp it up again next week, but we're getting everything taught [this week]. We had a great practice today and we'll go full speed Friday and Saturday. Then, come back and get a full week's work in. Again, while there are obligations to the media and everything else, it's different next week."
(On his memories of the 2012 season with the Indianapolis Colts that stay with him)
"All of it, [but] I think there were two moments. Beating the Packers in that first game and letting Jim Irsay take that game ball down to the hospital and give it to Chuck [Pagano]. Then, standing on the sidelines in Kansas City, winning that game and going to the playoffs with that very, very young team."
(On how the team approached the Bye Week this season)
"It was such a late bye. We did our self-scouting every week, but we did a major one [during the bye]. Looked at the running game, the passing game, everything that we were doing and simplified some things. We really started playing [well] in the second half of that Kansas City game and built the momentum from them. Obviously, the second half in Atlanta [was also good] – gaining that confidence, gaining that continuity. Defensively, playing so well in the playoffs and playing good, complementary football, taking the ball away and scoring touchdowns. Since that time, we've been playing some pretty good complementary ball."
(On QB Tom Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski's leadership styles and if he was aware of how each player's leadership style when they came to Tampa Bay)
"I didn't know about Gronk's work ethic. It's unbelievable – he comes in early, stays late [and] is great. But, he's Gronk, so he's got that great personality to go with his work ethic. You knew Tom was a great leader. With COVID, I don't go into the locker room very much, but those two guys brought something extremely special because they've been there and done it. When young players see that, they listen. You see two totally different personalities doing it the same way."
(On how the tight end position has developed in the last 10 years)
"I think great athletes started playing the position. Maybe a little bit before then, but most of them weren't good enough basketball players, so they turned to football. I think Tony Gonzalez was one of those guys who started it [with] Antonio Gates. Really good power forwards but they weren't going to the NBA. That's what you're seeing – great athletes playing the position now."
(On what changed that has allowed QB Tom Brady to have more success completing deep passes)
"Just kept working on it. Continuity with the guys [as well]. Chris [Godwin] had been hurt, Mike [Evans] had been hurt, Scotty [Miller] had been out, A.B. (Antonio Brown) was just getting into it. I think we were starting to gel a little bit going into that Bye Week and then working on it during the Bye Week. Just continued to throw more of them."
(On the offensive line's performance since the Bye Week)
"They've done a great job. I think they've done a great job all year [in the] run and pass. But, pass protection has been great. You've got to throw the tight ends in there and Joe Haeg. Those guys have done a really good job – and the running backs. It was a work in progress for a long, long time and things just started to click – little things by little [and] pieces by pieces. After the Bye Week – knock on wood – other than losing Alex Cappa, we've been pretty healthy, so that's really helped."
(On the message his hiring of female and minority coaches sends to the world and what made him choose these coaches for the organization)
"The men are easy – they're my guys and they're outstanding. They're some of the best coaches I know. The women was by choice. I thought that door needed to be open. They're great teachers, they work their tails off and they're more than qualified. I'm really happy to see Sarah [Thomas] calling the ballgame [and] getting to be the first [female] official [in a Super Bowl]. Inclusivity and diversity are great ways to teach. The more input from different types of voices, the better output you get. We're very, very proud of our staff and looking forward to having a great game."
(On how far the defense has come along under Todd Bowles in the last two seasons)
"I think lightyears. Just the mixture of all those guys in the secondary [and] solidifying the front. Again, going into last season, we had to get Shaq [Barrett] back [and] we had to get [Ndamukong] Suh back. Keeping everybody there [and] now getting Vita [Vea] back. That secondary was the key. Getting guys that could play man-to-man, that were aggressive bump-and-run type people that could also play zone, rather than soft zone players. It took a while, but I think Todd has just done a tremendous job and we've been winning with defense."
QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY
(On his parents contracting COVID-19 and how they are doing currently)
"They're doing great, so I think that's the best part of all of it – they came through it. I think one thing as you get older as an athlete, one thing for me experiencing a lot of different things over the course of my career, there's a lot of family things that take place. My situation, it could be my parents, but also I have kids. There [are] a lot of things that happen in your life. Like all of us, as you get older, there's more that you take on. I still obviously love going out there and competing, but on the other side of that there is a lot of family things that are very important to me. Certainly, the health of my parents is very important. Although I was far away, I had three sisters who were doing everything they could to help at the time, too. I'll be very excited to certainly know my parents will be in the stands for the game on Sunday. They only made it to one game this year [and] it wasn't a very good outcome – the Saints game at home, which was pretty rough for all of us. I'll have a full contingent all coming in Saturday afternoon, ready to watch the game and cheer us on."
(On how he has enjoyed working with Bruce Arians this season)
"I think from the moment that I really met him – and obviously I had known about B.A. over the course of a lot of years. He's a coach that's been in the league a while, but he came and commentated for one or two of our games when he was doing that. Then, I got to meet him and speak to him during free agency. The whole pandemic and so forth is still ongoing [and] it's very difficult to develop a real relationship because we didn't have the opportunity through OTAs and so forth to communicate. But, we did speak on Zoom with the captains at one point, we got a couple rounds of golf in which was a lot of fun. Just to understand his personality [and] understand his background – I had seen his Football Life [and] I had seen a lot of other things that have been broadcasted and so forth. He's a great man, he's a great leader, he's a great person, he's a great friend [and] he's very loyal. He's just got a great way about communicating effectively with everybody around here. Everybody has a great affection for him for the person he is. There's nobody that ever would say anything bad about B.A. He's just so endearing to everybody and I think everyone wants to win for him. I think that's what you want to do for a coach – you want to get out there and you want to win for him. He puts a lot into it, expects a lot out of it, has high expectations for us every day in practice [and I am] just really excited for him to be recognized in the way that he is. I know he's a two-time Coach of the Year, but [he has] just done an amazing job this year with the team in really adverse situations. I love playing for him."
(On Coach Arians' 'no-risk it, no biscuit' style and the Buccaneers taking a chance by singing Brady)
"I'd like to think that I wasn't that much of a chance after a lot of years. Becoming a free agent and then having the opportunity to continue my playing career. I love the opportunity that presented itself here, which is ultimately why I chose here. I really love the coaching staff, I loved the players that they had. I looked at those players and thought, 'Wow, these are really great players. This would be a good opportunity for me.' Obviously, a different conference and a different division – all of that I didn't quite know about. In the end, I just made a lot of different choices. I don't want to revisit them all, but I'm pretty detailed and thorough. I went through a process of decisions and thinking about everything that really mattered to me in some way [and] one form or another. Obviously, a lot of family considerations. My son lives in New York and I didn't want to be too far from him. It just ended up being a great fit and as it's played out, I've just though, 'Wow, this has really been a magical year.' For me as a player to switch teams, that takes a lot. To move my family, to go to a different conference, to keep building the way we did and develop a rapport with the guys that we have here – so much of football is about the relationships that you get with your teammates [and your] coaches. The fact that we're still playing feels really good for me and [I] understand that we've put a lot into it. Hopefully we can go finish the job – that would be the best part about the season. It's always been a goal to win the last game of the year. We've got an opportunity to do it – it's certainly not going to be easy. It's going to take everything we've got. We're going up against a great, championship-level team and it's going to take our best."
(On if he would be happy or sad to see himself in the Super Bowl if he were a fan in New England)
"I had an incredible 20 years. I wouldn't change anything over the course of 20 years that were magical and all the relationships that I developed. Those shaped me into who I am as a person [and] as a player. My kids were born in Boston [and] I have great affection for the city and everything that Boston has meant to me and my family. All of New England – not just Boston. I didn't even know where New England was when I got picked by New England – that was always a funny story. They called me and said, 'You've been picked by New England.' I was like, 'That's amazing! Where is New England?' I landed in Providence [Rhode Island], which really screwed me up because that's not even in Massachusetts. It was a great 20 years and at the end of the day, I had an opportunity to become a free agent. I evaluated different opportunities and just tried to make the best possible decision for myself and my family. I chose Tampa and it's just been an amazing experience. The only thing that's been difficult is just haven't been able to meet [a lot of people]. There's a lot of people in here that I never really had a chance to get to know. Certain players on defense that I just don't know very well [because] we're not able to be together in certain rooms, we're not able to eat together, we're not able to travel well [and] we don't get the normal camaraderie that you have on a normal team. Under the circumstances, we're all doing the best we can do and it's been a tricky year in that sense. Going to try to go do my best like I always do to try to finish the job this coming week."
(On if a lack of experience in Super Bowls matters once the game is played)
"No. Experience doesn't matter – playing well matters. The team that wins is not going to be the most experienced team, it's going to be the team that plays the best. We've got to prepare the best, we've got to execute the best [and] we've got to perform the best under pressure. If we do that, we'll be champions. If we don't, we won't be."