*Did you sleep well last night Donald? *I did. I did. I slept well. I did sleep well. Got home, played with the kids a little bit, and went to bed.
How much doubt after 12 years was there you'd get this opportunity? *How much doubt? I don't know if you get any doubt. I think you get to a point where it's hard to get here, and once you get in, then you just say hey, I've got to win it all. I don't think we had any doubt that we couldn't get here at all. One thing we did do is we believed. We believed that no one could stop us. It started in March, and the crazy part about it, is once we got to training camp, I think guys really believed in it. We started putting Super Bowl everywhere, and now we can say we're in it. *
What has Mike's message been this week? And how are you approaching this off week?
*It's another game. You know, he said don't worry about the Super Bowl, we're going to beat the Steelers, and that's our mindset. Once it's all said and done, and the game is over and the confetti starts falling and you know you've won it, that's when you say you won the Super Bowl. But right now our mind and focus is just to beat the Steelers.*
Donald, what is the best way to attack their defense?They've got a great defense. We haven't watched them yet. We won't start until sometime this week, but they do have a good defense. We watched them over the season. Our biggest thing is it's not about them, it's about us. We've got to go out there and take care of our business. If we play the way we've been playing all season long, especially the last five games of the season, that tells you what we can do. We've got to play our style of football. We know that no one can beat us but ourselves. That's been a proven fact all season long. The games we lost, we lost because of us, not because someone just beat us. So that's another thing we've got to focus on to make sure we don't turn the ball over. We go out there and play smart, sound and disciplined.
How would you describe Aaron's performances?
*The best. The best I've seen him play in his three years as a starting quarterback. He's excited about this opportunity. It's his third year as a starter, and he's going to the Bowl. You normally don't get that gift. I've been in this league a long time, and it took me 12 years to get here. I'm happy for him. I think he's one of the best quarterbacks in the game, if not right now the best quarterback in the game, and that's a proven fact. I don't think anyone can take that from him. A lot of people probably doubted him, but you can't doubt him anymore, because we're in.*
*What's this morning feel like for you taking care of friends and family the next couple of days? Taking care of those guys and getting them situated with tickets and stuff?
*You know, I haven't even done anything. I think it's still one of those things you're dreaming about it that you're in. You know, woke up this morning and gave my wife and kids a kiss before they headed back to Dallas. It was just crazy because my wife said, babe, we're in the Super Bowl. And I was like, it hasn't hit me yet. And I know the whole thing will hit me within the next couple of days. That's when you start really feeling it once you start getting down to Dallas and start seeing all the different activities and things going on. That's when it will really hit you. Then the family is all excited. I know that, but it hasn't really hit me yet.
You guys talked a lot in training camp about the Super Bowl. Is it safe to say that maybe you're not surprised that you're there, but you're maybe surprised about the journey it took to get there?
*Well, I don't know if you get surprised by so many things. I think you face a lot of things when you're going through the season. We faced a lot of adversity. And our young guys are able to step up and fill the shoes of our veteran guys getting hurt, and some of our young guys getting hurt. You don't get surprised by it. It's just one of those things that happen. You don't expect it to happen, but when it does happen, guys got to step up and play. Once that started happening throughout the year, we knew we still had a chance to get in, and that was the crazy part. You go through the year, you're like okay, we lose this game, we win this game, then you start bouncing back and realizing that you can do it. We got to the point where they told us we had to win the last two games to get in, and everybody put it on their shoulders. Everybody had to look at themselves in the mirror and say you have to do your job better if you want to get here. Once we got in, we told everybody, you don't want to see us.*
You said yesterday you're hot. You're a hot team. How important has that been and can you sustain that over a two week stretch now?
*I think you can. I think you've got to get to a point to still just play your style of football. That's what we have to do right now. We can't change anything. We have to look at this as just another game. Even though the big trophy is to bring the Vince Lombardi Trophy back home, that is the goal, but we've still got to go out there and play football. Regardless, you can talk all the talk you want to, but you've still got to play the game. Right now we know we have to play a game against a great team that's been there before, that has experience, that's won it. We want to win it now, and that's our goal. *
What about the job that Ted has done in terms of building this team and plugging some holes and dealing with injuries. What about the overall job that he's done?
*I've known Ted for a long time. And Ted's always had the mind focus that he's always going to build the team and build what's best for this team. He's done a great job at it. So many people are wondering why he didn't go out and get this guy, that guy. That wasn't his mindset. His mindset is he can build within this locker room. And that shows you what type of character he has to trust in the players that are already here that they can build this team. I take my hat off to him. Normally you think a GM would have to go out and grab players to make this team better. He didn't believe in that. He believed the people he's got in the locker room, the free agents and the draft picks, he knew that those guys would step up and fill the shoes of our injured guys and they did. And you have to take your hat off to him because not too many people would have did what he's done. A lot of guys would have taken that criticism and went out there and jumped over that broomstick. But he decided to stay behind that broomstick and make everything work in his favor. *
*As you're developing as a player, and he's doing the draft & develop approach, is there any part of you that is thinking boy, I wish he'd add a couple of veterans too because my time is getting shorter by the year? And does that maybe say...
*Go ahead, I'm listening.
Does that say how impressed you are by what he did, because I'm guessing that had to be in the back of your head somewhere? *I think you get to a point where you can't worry about what goes on upstairs. You can only worry about your job. That's what I've done over my career. I've always worried about myself, and I can't worry about what he's done. But I have seen what he's done over his career, and I think it's tremendous. If you go back and look at all the things, certain guys he brought in, certain guys he let go, and these guys go to other teams and play for other teams. And you go, wow, why we didn't keep him? Why'd we let him go? And in all due respect, Ted made the best decision for this organization, and that's what you have to live with. We don't have any pull. The players, we just play the game. The players that come in, we ask that they come in and help us win, and that's what these players did.*
As one of the veterans on this team, you look at Sunday's victory, and you guys as veterans that haven't had this opportunity, and it's been a while since some have been there. What is the feeling for you guys that haven't had the chance to play in this game?
*To me it means everything. I think when you're playing in this league a long time, that is the ultimate goal to get to the Super Bowl, and then the ultimate goal after that is to win it. I'm excited about it. Like I said before, it hasn't hit me yet, but I know it will hit me soon that now I have the opportunity to go to the dance. The biggest thing for me now is to put that ring on my finger and be part of my legacy that I've been to the Super Bowl and I've also won the Super Bowl. *
You and Chad or any of the other veterans that haven't played in the Super Bowl yet, did you guys have a little extra moment to reflect on what you guys accomplished?
*I don't know if we've done that yet. We haven't sat down as a veteran group and sat down and talked about it, no. But I think we've shared our emotions through one another, me, Chad, Wood. Just letting each other know exactly what we feel and how we feel and what we want to accomplish. Because when it's all said and done, that's what everybody wants is their legacy to stand. You look at Wood's legacy, and Chad's legacy and mine, the ultimate goal for that legacy is everybody talks about us to get that Super Bowl ring. If you get that, then everything, you've accomplished everything. I think you kind of have everything in order. Make the team, Pro Bowls, Super Bowl, that's it. Then that's like the final chapter of your book. *
Very few guys on your team have been through this and experienced it. How do you think the younger guys are going to handle all the hoopla and distractions and stuff that goes on around this game?
*I think they'll handle it well. We have a bunch of guys. If you look at it, there's only a couple of guys on our team that have been to the Super Bowl. I think only one person that has a Super Bowl ring and that's John Kuhn.And I think you get to a point where you start talking to guys and these veteran guys and tell them this is the show. This is what we all dreamed of as kids. And to get here, you just can't get there and then say, ok, we can lose it. You've got to win it all. I think right now, that's what our young guys know that these veteran guys, we want to win it. And our young guys believe that now. They know that exactly what we want, they want. And that is to put that ring on our finger at the end of the game.*