Hello everyone. It’s great to be in North Dallas … excuse me, North Texas. With that I’ll take your questions.
(You said you were going to talk to the team today about off the field distractions and staying focused on the game. Did you do that already, and what did you say?)
We had a team meeting this morning at 10:30 before we went through the TSA at the stadium and boarded the buses for the airport. Basically just laid out the whole week’s schedule, made sure everybody clearly understood the expectations and responsibilities from a scheduling standpoint, and made it clear the environment we were going to be working in, and the things that are surrounding this environment. Our players, our coaches, our whole organization is excited to be here. It was an excellent week, a very productive week last week in Green Bay. It’s great to get down here and see the setup we’ve been provided here at the hotel. It’s been very impressive, and we’re looking forward to this week’s work leading up to the Super Bowl game.
(What’s it like playing the Steelers for you personally and do you have any memories growing up and cheering them on?)
I have a lot of memories of the Pittsburgh Steelers growing up in Pittsburgh. Personally it’s unique for my family and I, but really, I’m looking forward to getting to the game. I’m sure this will be something that we’ll reflect on as a family. It’s very personal from that standpoint. I have great respect for the Rooney family and their generosity to my family and just the way they’ve always operated their business. But growing up in Pittsburgh is a big part of who I am, but I am a Green Bay Packer and we’ve come here to claim the Lombardi Trophy.
(Can you discuss how these pre- and post-game speeches by
Well, frankly, it’s something that I’ve been looking at as the head coach of our football team. I felt, everybody talks about leadership and you need more leadership on your football team. I’ve started to look for opportunities to give individuals to grow as a leader. At the end of the regular season, which is customary in Green Bay when you make the playoffs, playoff captains are voted on. There’s two on offense, two on defense and two on special teams. With that, we had a meeting after the captains were voted before our first playoff game there in Philadelphia, and I told them that pre-game I was now turning the prayer over to them and also the final message over to the captains. You six have a vote, you figure out how you want to do it, and the last words before we leave the locker room are going to come from our players. It’s a players’ game, it’s important for us all to be on point with our messaging each week. They had a quick vote, and
(Are you anticipating going inside on Wednesday based on the weather reports?)
It’s something I’m actually going to look at tomorrow. I’m going to both facilities and look at the setup. Doug Collins, our director of security has been here. We talked about it on the plane ride down here today, and we discussed it earlier in the week. With the weather and the indoor facility and the surface and so forth, we’ll probably make that decision sometime later tomorrow.
(The team mantra of no individual agendas, the last week in Green Bay, how did you see that play out and how do you expect that to go this week?)
Our last week in Green Bay, working in Green Bay, anybody who’s had an opportunity to coach and play in Green Bay clearly understands just our setup. I think our quality of work has always been a strength of our preparation. I feel it’s a big part of our success, and that’s why we set the schedule the way we did. We came to North Texas as late as possible because I wanted to maximize our time in Green Bay in preparation for this game. With that being said, we’re probably 90 percent ready from an installation standpoint, because I do feel it’s important to stay the course and utilize the work ahead of us here Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. But our quality of work as far as our classroom setup, the whole environment, the indoor facility, which is very similar to the environment that we’re going to be playing in, the dome on Sunday, we just wanted to make sure we maximize that, and it’s been a very productive week.
(What is it about Ted Thompson that makes him and the Packers so effective at building through the draft and finding players this year that can integrate into the team so seamlessly?)
A lot of credit has to go to Ted Thompson and the personnel staff, just the way they’re structured, their work ethic. The principles are in place of how you evaluate a player. I don’t know if there’s another general manager that hits the road as much as Ted Thompson does. So when you’re in a personnel meeting prior to the draft and discussions are going around the table about a player, you know when the final decision is made that Ted has probably had his eyes on him and definitely has done his due diligence. It’s very impressive to watch now for five years, and it’s a big part of why we select the right people. We have to give our personnel department a lot of credit for our season.
(With a house and daughter in Austin, do you feel any ties to Texas?)
I love Texas. I think Texas is a great place to raise a family. Austin, Texas, my daughter graduated Lake Travis High School last year. She’s a freshman at the University of Kansas. I have a lot of good friends in Austin and I’m sorry we brought the weather with us from Green Bay, but this is a great state.
(All along you’ve been preaching you’re preparing to play the Pittsburgh Steelers and not Super Bowl XLV. But now that you’re down here, all the hoopla, how do you keep hammering home that point?)
Just don’t look into the lights. That will probably help you. Our players were really excited to get down here today, just visiting with a number of them o ne-on-one. They’re excited about the process leading up to the game. Like a lot of us, we wish the game was already here. We don’t want to take away this experience. I told them to be very realistic, be practical. Enjoy it, it’s unique, an opportunity to be in front of the media every day. It will be a great experience for our players and our coaches. But at the end of the day, this is about beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that’s what we’re focused on.
(During the regular season, your team won three games on the road. You’ve matched that in the postseason. What led to the change in success during the playoffs?)
The time of year has a lot to do with it. We had a couple road games we felt got away from us during the regular season. Traditionally, we’ve been a good road team, and that definitely carried over to the playoffs. Our team doesn’t sweat the road. Scheduling, leading into home games and leading into road games, we try to keep it as similar as possible. Our players like that routine. We played in good weather in all three road games this year. I think that definitely helps you offensively. I know we were only 3-5 in the regular season, but over our tenure there in Green Bay, we’ve always considered ourselves a good road team.
(There have been 90 coaches that have made this game, but not sure if any others ever worked in a toll booth. Can you talk about that experience?)
It didn’t pay much. It was a summer job. It was something that I felt I needed to do between graduating from Fort Hays State University. You get your master’s degree and you go and collect tolls. That doesn’t quite add up but that was my plan and path. Really it was a good experience. It was something really just to make some money before the season started at the University of Pittsburgh before we went to training camp. I know a lot has been made about it. I don’t want to disrespect the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I did my job and I studied while I was there when there were no cars coming through the booth. It was a good experience. I always felt that was the normal way; you have summer jobs, you do those types of things, and I’m glad I took the path that I did as far as a young man back then being exposed to those types of things.
(Seeing that you have never been to a Super Bowl as a coach or as a fan, have you sought out advice from other coaches?)
We have a couple of coaches on our staff and really this is something you don’t just prepare for the week after the NFC Championship Game. I have always picked other coaches’ brains, how did this Super Bowl week go? A lot of coaches call and offer suggestions, so I feel that I have been given a lot of good advice, but more importantly, you have to stay true to how your football team has been trained as far as the scheduling and so forth. There were a number of things that were brought to the table where I thought, ‘Wow, that is an excellent idea,’ but it just doesn’t fit to what I felt was in the best interest of our football team operating leading up to this game. We don’t want to get too far away from our mode of preparation. We feel that is a strength of our football team, the way we prepare for an opponent, and we’re going to stay as true to that as possible.
(What was the send-off like in Green Bay and then to see a couple of hundred fans at the hotel here?)
It was awesome. Just like everything that involves the fans in Green Bay, it was great. We left the visitors’ locker room, just on the buses for the TSA procedure. I couldn’t tell you how many people were there, but it was great. Signs, a lot of excitement, a lot of enthusiasm. The police escort to the stadium, people were lined up along the sidewalks and so forth. Special as always, and we’re looking forward to the return.
(Going back to the draft two years ago, were you leery at all that
I’ll say this, I’ve said this time and time again about Clay Matthews. Ted Thompson, when he hits the road during the regular season, he usually comes back on a Thursday or sometimes Friday morning and we have an opportunity to get together. When he returned from the USC workout that year, he was the one player that he talked most about. He saw something in Clay. I know he played with his uncle in Houston when he was a Houston Oiler, but he was really excited about Clay Matthews. As the process went on leading up to the draft, it was no surprise where we had Clay Matthews ranked and when the opportunity presented itself that we stepped up and selected him.
(Why did you make the decision to never attend a Super Bowl, and how are you going to handle this week personally?)
Embrace it on a personal level, frankly No. 1 my priority is I have a job here to do. I don’t want to disappoint you. I don’t really look forward to these type of moments right now. It’s part of the job. The media is very important and I know I represent the Green Bay Packers. The environment leading up to the game, I’m sure I’m like every other coach in the past when your season is over, I really didn’t want to be around the participation leading up to the big game. I just always waited until this moment, and I’m glad I did. I have family coming here. My daughter is coming in Wednesday night and the rest of my family, wife and so, is coming in Thursday. I’m sure there will be certain things that we’ll do within the realm of what I have always done within the week of preparation. I’m not going to get too far away from my normal schedule, especially the biggest week of the year. I don’t know if I answered your question. I’m going to do as little as I possibly can to enjoy myself.
(To what extent is this team built for sustained success?)
If you look at our roster and everybody clearly understands the age of our players, but those are really questions for next year. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. I really like our team. I really like our structure, our program. We have drafted players, we have developed them and have been successful in doing that. We need to continue to do that because every year is a new year. This year for us is a great example of that. There are challenges in front of you that you don’t know you’re going to hit, and when they hit you have to be prepared and you have to fight through the adversity of every season because it is always different. Every team is different, every season is different. But I think the future is bright for our football team. Once again, we are focused on this one game.
(With all the talk about Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl experience compared to your team, do you consider that a big disadvantage?)
Not at all. I’ll tell you exactly what I told the football team. I don’t know exactly how many players they have, nine, 10, how many players they have on their 53 that played in the game, but their Super Bowl experience, their advantage is today through Sunday. That’s why we spent the extra time going through exactly every single day, and we’ll meet as a football team, team meeting, every morning at 7:45, and make sure we’er crystal clear on what is expected of us. The preparation is the prize. That’s what we’re after. We want to be the best-prepared football team. We understand they have been through it; that is an advantage to them. But we feel we do a very good job preparing our team to play games, so we’re going to stay true to that. As far as the game, it’s another football game. Every game is. I understand the big stage. We clearly understand the different schedules that go on leading up to the game. We have already talked about it as a football team. We have things in place that will place that will deal with the long pre-game, the long halftime. I don’t think it is going to be a factor. We’re really focused on keeping it between the lines. The advantage Pittsburgh has over us in my opinion is today through Saturday. So we’ll continue to work and educate our football team. They are a dedicated and focused bunch so I’m not really concerned about it.
(Can you talk about Woodson’s transformation as a leader since he came here in 2006 and maybe the role you played in that?)
I think Charles, like a lot of us on our football team, both players and coaches, everybody has the opportunity to grow. Everybody has an opportunity to improve. You can always improve and Charles has been given more opportunities to do that in the area of leadership, and he has really stepped up big-time. I think it was very evident in his talk after the Chicago game, and Philadelphia and Atlanta were good too. It’s all about opportunity. You talk about trust, you talk about opportunity, you talk about focus, but you have to make sure you are creating an environment for that to exist and grow, and I think he is a perfect example of that.