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.
Born: Feb. 10, 1974
Experience: 15 NFL seasons
I'd say the [early 2000s Patriots] teams were better because we had a more dominant defense. Defense wins championships as you know, but I can only imagine if we had our defense with what Tom [Brady] has grown to be as a quarterback. There definitely wouldn't have been no gap between Super Bowls I'll tell you that.
Tom is the last man standing [of those early championship teams], but I think he may even say the same thing.
[Brady's] ability to lead. When he first came in, he led but he didn't have to because we had enough veterans. He was a young guy and his job was to not turn the ball over. We told him [the defense] had to rest.
He was always a competitor from Day 1, so that hasn't changed. Tom was one of the first guys in and last ones to leave even when he was a backup. The way he understands the game and way he matured, he's taking the weight of the team on his shoulders, and I think that's pretty special.
[Bill Belichick's] preparation and attention to detail [set him apart]. The way he conducted practices was more situational, and that's why you tend to not get too worked up about anything that could happen in the game because we've already seen it in practice. That was a big differentiator from going to other teams of how practice was conducted. You only have a certain amount of time to get everything you want in, but the majority of our time during practice was always situational.
Of course, I've always had high expectations for myself and I feel good about what I've accomplished in my career. To say that I'm the best at anything is taking away from the guys that are [Hall of Fame finalists] as well. I think everyone has a case and everyone is deserving, or we wouldn't be the last 15 standing. I played with Brian Dawkins and against John Lynch. I grew up with Everson Walls. When I was in high school, I knew him. I wouldn't sit here and say I'm the best. We're all deserving and it's up to somebody else to make that assessment.
[Not getting a knock from Hall of Fame president David Baker last year] wasn't anything negative by any means. That's pretty much expected at the time because there were so many guys waiting for a lot longer than I have been. I've always looked at being in this position as a blessing in itself, to be amongst the finalists, the last 15 guys. But they only take five, so you never know what's going to happen. You just gotta enjoy the ride and enjoy the process.
I think I have the best guy, Ron Borges, that anyone can have as far as being my advocate and making my [Hall of Fame] case for me. I'm not going to sit here and worry about it or lose sleep over it. It's great to be involved in the conversation and I can feel good about that.
It's not a need, but it was something I've always strived for since the day I stepped into an NFL locker room. Actually, when I decided I wanted to be a professional football player, I had that mindset of I want to be immortalized in the [Pro Football] Hall of Fame. That's the ultimate goal, the icing on the cake. I don't need it to justify what I've done, but I want it. I put it in those terms and if it's meant to happen, it will.
If it doesn't, I think I can hold my head up pretty high with my accomplishments that we had as a team and as an individual. I got three championships out of the deal, Pro Bowls, some All-Pros, so it was a nice run.
[Randy Moss and Terrell Owens] were difficult for different reasons. They were difficult for anybody, but it was based on the style that you played. With Randy Moss, you always had to worry about his top-end speed and him running by you. That was always the threat with Randy, him getting on top of you and throwing that hand up to get that ball. That was a challenge with his height. He named the term "Moss'd," and that still holds today.
T.O. presented a whole different type of problem because he was big and fast. He was more imposing as far as his strength. He could give you that little push off, and it moves you a little bit more than when Randy did it.
But I can't say who was better. It depended on the situation. Who was going to give you that big play and moment, it would probably be Randy. But if you get into a certain situation where you need size and body, you would probably say T.O. because he can get separation.
Jalen Ramsey because of his willingness to get up in your face and play bump-and-run. I wasn't much of a talker unless you started it, and he's doing more talking off the rip. But the way he plays the game, I really like him. I like Marcus Peters as well, but there's something about those Jacksonville corners that bring something back to me. He's young and I just look at his upside. He can be the next great cornerback. A couple years ago, I would've said Darrelle Revis, but he's getting older.
I'm very impressed, especially playing the cornerback position for as long as [Terence Newman] has. He's like myself. Most of the people who play that long tend to go back to safety at some point, but he's doing it similar to me. I'd been doing it for 15 years and never had a chance to go back to safety and steal a few more years, but it's remarkable.
Everyone talks about Tom Brady being 40 years old and still playing at the level he's playing at, but it's a big difference from playing quarterback and playing cornerback, when you have to chase these young, fast guys around. I think it's just as impressive, if not more impressive, that Terence Newman is going out there and doing what he's doing right now because of the position he plays. More so than a quarterback because the quarterback's always getting protected.
I've always trained my body and did what I needed to do in the offseason. I think a lot of guys don't do everything year-round, but this job is a year-round process. Even though you're resting from taking hits, you still have to do what's necessary to get ready for the coming season. The longer your career goes, you have to start a little bit sooner rather than later.
I put the work in but in this game, anything can happen. It's a combination of hard work, dedication and a little bit of luck.