PHOTO: Philadelphia Eages wide receiver Terrell Owens is brought down after a reception by New England Patriots cornerback Randall Gay (21) in the first quarter during Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2005, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Minutes with Randall Gay
By Christopher Shepard, Patriots Insider
March 17, 2005
PI: It has been quite a rookie season for you. Did you ever think you’d start for the Patriots in the Superbowl when the Patriots signed you?
Randall Gay: He-he. No. That would be unrealistic. To even think that not being drafted I was going to start in the Superbowl. You know I am a realistic person and that was an unrealistic thing to think. But hey, that happens.
PI: In the Superbowl you recorded 10 tackles, the most tackles for a Patriot defensive player in Super Bowl XXXIX, and you caused LJ Smith to fumble that was recovered by Asante Samuel during a crucial Eagles drive. When did you reach your comfort zone with the Patriots’ defense?
Randall Gay: Well really it was a matter of the more reps I started getting. After about week 7 or 8 I started feeling more comfortable. You know the more you play the more you are out there and the more comfortable you get. Because being a rookie in the first couple of games you have never played in the NFL. All you know is that these are the best players in the world. But you’re, you know, you are not used to being out there. But I played in, you know, every game and the more I played the more comfortable I got.
Randall Gay: Well I expected to do a job. You know if I wanted to keep my job on the team I needed to show up. And that is the only thing I really thought about is the coaches you know when Tyrone got hurt they put me in as the nickel back and got me the reps. And why Ty got hurt they put me in as a starter. The way I look at it, they did not go out and sign somebody else or try to hurry up and trade for anybody else, sign a veteran. They had their confidence in me and I had to show them what I could do.
PI: And, you certainly stepped up. You were part of the LSU Tigers team that won the BCS in 2003, did you think you would go un-drafted by the NFL? And how did you deal with the disappointment?
Randall Gay: Well you know you always want to get drafted. And I really thought that, you know, I would get my name called at least maybe, Mr. Irrelevant, but I thought I would get my name called. And when it didn’t happen, I was very, [someone is trying to call me] I was very upset you know. But the way I looked at it you can’t control everything. When that happens you just gotta’ deal with what happens and go with it and make the best of it and your opportunities.
PI: You must have a lot of mental strength to be able to look that in the face and still really persevere and overcome that disappointment right there. Aside from winning the Super Bowl, what has been the biggest change for you since you joined the Patriots?
Randall Gay: The toughest thing for me is being away from home. I’m from here. I from Baton Rouge and …which is in West Baton Rouge and I never left home before so to spend thousands of miles away from home that was the biggest change. To me football is football no matter if you are Peewee league, middle school, high school, or college or the NFL. You know it is the same game. The only difference in the NFL, between all the leaguers, everybody is real good. You have to play like everybody is real good on every snap, you know? In high school, whatever, you’d have opportunities when they’re lining up against you maybe not the greatest player in the world. But in the NFL that person lining up against you is one of the greatest in the world. So you always have to be on your toes. That really is the biggest difference.
PI: And you bring up the greatest players in the world when you play against them. Out of them, who was your toughest opponent, or the toughest offensive player for you to cover?
Randall Gay: [laughs] Well, the way I was looking at it all of them were.
PI: [laughs] OK.
Randall Gay: [laughs] You know I was a young buck out there. So to me I had to be on top of my game and everything, but you know. TO, he was the most physically strong person. And I would say maybe Chad Johnson was maybe one of the quickest. Those are two people, you know, who come to mind. They stay on top of the cabinet. Those two went to the pro Bowl so.
Randall Gay: Well me, I prepare for TO and Chad and all the other great receivers just like I prepare for anyone else. You know the way I look at it I got to treat the man who doesn’t have the big name like the man who does ‘cause they can beat you at any turn. So you have to always watch the film, prepare, pay attention at the practice and all that kind of stuff just to be ready for anybody you line up against because anyone can beat you.
PI: That is true. Speaking of that, were you surprised when the team released all pro-cornerback Ty Law? And do you think this will affect your role on the team?
Randall Gay: What the team does with players and personnel I have nothing to do with. I can’t assume that it affects my role. I just gotta keep doing what I was doing. And you know I learned a lot from Ty while he was here. You know?
Randall Gay: Business is business and this is a business. What they decide who to keep and who not to keep that is the Patriots personnel department. I go out there to play the game and just have fun.
PI: Now, recently there was some controversy surrounding your name and a professor of yours trying to get your jersey and it came out it was one of the prohibited words. And now according to Outsports.com Gay is OK to put on a Jersey. Were you offended that your name was not allowed on official jerseys?
Randall Gay: [Laughs] No I am not that type of person to get offended by things like that. This thing, you know, being a little kid with that last name that’s asking for it. You know now it is like, I have my name. It was funny to me when I heard it. I laughed about it. Man I thought it was a joke you know.
Randall Gay: Someone said it was on the news and I was like, “no it’s not.” They were like, “for real.” You know it was on the news. It was just funny to me. They let me wear it on TV.
PI: Right [laughs]
Randall Gay: [Laughs] I had the name on the back of the jersey in the Superbowl but you know they couldn’t even buy it. But I am glad they got it all straightened out.
PI: Now it’s all worked out. This year you are going to have a new defensive coordinator in backfields coach Eric Mangini and there are some changes in the coaching staff. How do you approach that? Do you do what you are told or is there any mental preparation you go through?
Randall Gay: Well there is no mental preparation. Basically, you got to listen to the coach no matter who it is. You know they are there for a reason; to get you better. No matter if it is coach Rick or coach Mangini. We got to listen to them. We’ve got confidence in them you know they are right. Eric, Coach Mangini, he was basically, he knew the defense. He was just like a defensive coordinator last year. He knew stuff just like coach Romeo. We have all the confidence in the world in him.
PI: Sure. Now, just going back to the Superbowl real quick. Your performance and contribution in the Super Bowl and in the playoffs has been very significant. How do you mentally prepare for this?
Randall Gay: Well I took that approach to the game just like it was every other game I played. Besides all the lights and cameras and people on the sidelines it was the same game we played the week before and the week before that. It was football. I blocked out everything that wasn’t the game of football, on the field, related. I took the approach I did this many times before. I’ve been playing football since I was eight years old so it was no different.
PI: Now the lights, the cameras and the action are a little more in your face I would guess that week before the Superbowl?
Randall Gay: That week was kind of crazy you know; thousands of reporters, all the security around. Things like that. The Superbowl is basically for the fans. We were there to play a game and that’s what we tried to do; just focus on the game.
PI: Well you certainly focused well. You notched your first NFL TD when you scooped up a fumble against the Browns in the third quarter and returned it 41 yards. How did that feel and what was that like?
Randall Gay: Oh man, that was a real, great feeling. [laughs] I hadn’t scored a touchdown since high school. I had scored a lot of touchdowns and then went to college and never really, you know, came close. I came close once, I got tackled on the six, but I missed the feeling of being in the end zone. Just to get that opportunity. When I saw the ball on the ground I was like, I got a chance to score. Willie was pulling me. I thought I wasn’t going to make it, but you know I ended up getting in and that was a real great feeling. I kept the ball. I will always remember that moment.
PI: Do you have any plans for the off-season? You won the Superbowl, anything special or do you just hang out?
Randall Gay: No. This off-season, I’ll just go on back to Foxboro and get ready for off-season workouts.
PI: One final question, tonight your LSU Tigers are playing UAB are you going to watch the game?
Randall Gay: Oh yeah. You know I’ll probably watch. I don’t watch basketball too much but you’ve got to support your former school. You know all the players on the team so you got to support them.
PI: Well that pretty much ends my questions. Do you have anything else you’d like to say?
Randall Gay: I think that is about it.
PI: Ok, well thank you so much for spending 15 minutes with the Patriots Insider. And again, congratulations on a fabulous season.