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
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
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,
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?
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.
PI: So when
initially Ty Law and Tyrone Poole went down, did the coaching staff tell you anything?
And what did you expect being in that role?
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?
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
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?
[laughs] Well, the way I was looking at it all of them were.
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
PI: And how do you prepare for a TO, or a Chad Johnson, Chad Lewis, these marquee guys, a Plaxico Burress? How do you prepare, do you have
a personal thing that you do?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
One final question, tonight your LSU Tigers are playing UAB are you going to watch
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
PI: Well that pretty much ends my questions. Do you
have anything else you’d like to say?
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