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Ravens Super Bowl Thursday Transcripts Part 2

Posted Jan 31, 2013

Quotes from the Baltimore Ravens media session.

WIDE RECEIVER ANQUAN BOLDIN

(on how his trip to Ethiopia last year changed him) “It definitely makes me more grateful, but I think the thing that it did for me was it made me want to help as much as I could. I’ve been trying to get the word out about Oxfam and Oxfam America. I’ve donated money myself. We’re planning a trip to go back this offseason as well. For me it’s just trying to get the word out as much as I can.”

(on what moved him to get involved in Ethiopia when there are so many places that need help) “There is. There’s not a certain place that…there’s a need (in Ethiopia). I’ve helped out a lot of different places. I think as a human being, any time you see people in dire situations, your heart goes out to them. For me, I’m in a position where I can help. If I’m in front of a camera, people will listen. I think for me, that’s important.”

(on how he became familiar with this particular cause) “Something I was reading, I came across it. It sparked my interest and I started to do some research on my own and tried to figure out ways that I could help. Then I actually got in contact with Oxfam America. I read up on them and the relief efforts that they do across the world, not just in Africa. So we were able to contact them and join forces with them.”

(on when he visited Ethiopia) “I went down last March. We were there for a little over a week.”

(on the key to beating man-to-man coverage) “To be honest with you, they remind me of our defense a lot. Just with the talent that we have, how physical they are, how fast they play. They remind me of how our defense plays, a lot. I think the key for us is just doing what we normally do. I think there will be situations where we see man coverage. I think us as a receiver corps, we definitely welcome man coverage because we feel like if you beat one guy there’s a lot of room to run.”

(on the Super Bowl experience he had with the Cardinals) “For me, it’s definitely been something that’s been on my mind since that Super Bowl. Everything that I have done as far as working out, as far as preparing, has been to get back to this point and to win. I think whenever you’re in a situation like that and being a competitor, you don’t want to lose. But I think when you do in a situation like that, it drives you. I mean, for me, it’s been only about football and getting back and trying to win.”

(on saying that he’s not a receiver, he’s a football player) “I think a receiver goes out there and catches the ball. Me, I do whatever it takes to win, whatever I’m asked by the coaches, whatever I’m asked of by this team. If that’s catching a ball, great. If that’s going out and laying a block on somebody, whatever it is.”

(on what he’ll tell his teammates about dealing with Sunday’s routine) “Just trying to make it a normal day as much as you can. Understanding pregame is going to be extra long, halftime is extra, extra long. Just not exerting too much energy because everybody is used to going out and warming up at a certain time. Coming in the locker room, having a certain amount of time in the locker room before you go back out. Having a certain amount of time before the coin toss. You can toss all that to the side, because it’s completely different. Not trying to go out and use too much energy or get too excited too early.”

(on if he will do things differently than he did in the Steelers-Cardinals Super Bowl) “Definitely. Exactly that, managing the time a lot better.”

(on if he has any advice for Joe Flacco as to how he should handle Sunday) “My only advice to Joe is be yourself. I think he does a great job preparing for each game. I think the even keel mentality is great.”

(on his memories of how he felt walking off the field after losing the Super Bowl) “It’s definitely a letdown. You feel disappointed. Once you lose, they’re roping off the field, herding the losing team to the locker room and letting the winning team celebrate. You don’t want that feeling, going back into the locker room knowing that you were this close and didn’t come through.”

(on his history of elevating his performance in the postseason) “It’s definitely a sense of urgency in the postseason. I think anybody who has ever played in the postseason knows it’s either win or go home, and nobody wants to go home. I think for myself, I’ve always felt that sense of urgency to get it done. It took me five years just to get to the playoffs, so I know myself playoffs aren’t guaranteed. You never know if or when you’re going to get back, so you have to make the most of it.”

(on Joe Flacco’s ability throw the deep ball) “For him, that’s just a God-given ability. I don’t think there’s any magic to it. He just has it.”

(on if he knows he’s going to catch the ball if it’s anywhere near him) “My mentality is if the ball’s in the air, it’s definitely my ball. I think you’re taught that as a receiver. I think any receiver is taught that. Any time the ball is in your area, it’s your ball. The ball isn’t going to be perfect every time. We get paid to make plays. That’s our mentality. Any time the ball’s in the air, go attack it. It’s our ball.”

(on how the identity of the Ravens has changed as the offense has improved) “We’re a more complete team, as opposed to in the past just relying on the defense, not losing the game on offense. I think we’ve evolved to being a complete team, all three phases: offense, defense, special teams. I think there’s certain games this year where you saw the offense take over. You’ve seen places where the defense stood up and seen games where our special teams has just taken over completely. I think that’s the point where we are now.”

(on if he wanted to help the offense ‘catch up with the defense’ when he arrived in Baltimore) “Definitely. Coming from Arizona, we were a high-powered offense, and it was just the opposite for us. We felt like we had to score on every possession, so I wasn’t used to being an offense that was managing a game. Coming here, I definitely didn’t want that label, so we worked our butts off to change it.”

(on the best and worst thing about growing up in Pahokee, Florida) “The worst thing about growing up? I’d probably say the lack of opportunities. Now that I’m not there, I’m able to get outside and see different things, I think the lack of opportunities.”

(on the financial contributions he’s made to his hometown) “I think for me it’s important to give back to my hometown to give them as many opportunities as possible to succeed. I think that’s very important. Any time you can instill hope in a kid, I think you’ve done a great thing. You’ve breathed life into that child. That’s always been my goal, and I’ll continue to do that.”

(on how important football is to the kids of Pahokee) “Anybody that knows a little about that area knows that football is very important. It’s definitely been a way out for a lot of people, myself included. Football is definitely big there.”

 

SAFETY BERNARD POLLARD

(on if he believes that the more physical team will win on Sunday) “I think so. I think with what we’re doing and with how we’re built, just with the characters that we have on both teams, that’s how it is. It’s going to be a war, and it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be fun for all of us. We’re at a moment right now where this experience is really a blessing for all of us. I know we can’t say it enough, we thank God for the position we’re in and I’m pretty sure they’re saying the same thing. But, on Sunday it’s going down.”

(on if he believes the team that delivers the first big hit will set the tone for the game) “You know what, it’s football. You’re going to have your ups and your downs all game long. It’s about who can outlast the other. It’s going to be so much fun. I just truly believe that the preparation this week, whoever prepares the best and whoever gets it done on Sunday, whoever is hitting on all cylinders, is going to win the game.”

(on if the game is going to be a ‘15-rounder’ as opposed to a quick knockout) “Yeah it’s going to be a long battle.  It’s the Super Bowl, and you don’t usually see many blowouts — not that often. It’s going to be fun.”

(on how the outdoor practice elements will affect the Ravens preparation and how it differs from the 49ers practicing indoors)  “No, it really doesn’t matter. We were running, we were cutting and we were getting our plays. It was beautiful; it actually cleared up. Tulane has been amazing. They’ve opened things up, and they’ve bent over backwards for us. We’re really appreciative. We had a great time. It’s the first time that I’ve ever seen a baseball diamond made of full turf. So that was a little awkward — for me at least. The preparation yesterday was outstanding; we’ve got to stack it again today.”

(on how he feels about the NFL possibly expanding the season to 18 games) “You’re dealing with some men who have never played football. Of course it’s a money making business. They’ve never played the game before. So obviously they can do some things and make some things happen if they want to, but it’s not their bodies that are taking a pounding and beating. Sixteen games are enough. I think all of us as players understand that we don’t want this thing to get any bigger. You go through things a lot in the 16 games, plus four preseason games, which is 20, and then you’ve got three or four playoff games. So you’re taking a pounding no matter what. Now you want to add onto that pounding—you talk about injuries now, it’s going to get worse.”

(on if the financial aspect of an 18-game schedule could persuade him to change his mind) “I really couldn’t care less about the money. We’re already going through it right now anyway. Like I said before, we as players know what we signed up for already, but at the same time, the whole expanded schedule would be very tough on our bodies. This is a physical game and a violent game already, and to expand it, to me and a lot of other players in this league, it doesn’t make any sense.”

(on if the Ravens can take anything from their 2011 game against the 49ers) “Last year’s game, that’s what it was – it was last year’s game on Thanksgiving. This team is more experienced. The coaches are seasoned, the players are seasoned, and to be honest with you, both teams were in the championship games last year and some things didn’t go our way and we lost. But you’re dealing with a team that’s trained, and they’re ready to go. They understand, and they’ve been in this position before. Right now we look at this situation, and we can’t look at the past and what we did against them last year. We have to understand that they’re ready to go. Like I said before, this is going to be a war and nobody has an advantage. I’m just being honest with you, nobody has an advantage. We’re going to go out there and we’re going to fight.”

(on O.J. Brigance) “O.J. has taught all of us not to take anything for granted. Just the little stuff that we complain about, whether it’s walking up the stairs, whether it’s having to come in early or whether it’s having to practice longer. You look at the little stuff that you complain about and O.J. has been fighting. He fights every day. I think for all of us, we’ve come to understand and appreciate the people that are in our lives. We’ve come to appreciate the things that are going on in our lives because in a split second it could be taken away from you. O.J. is the kind of guy who continues to show up at work every single day smiling, ready to go and always has a message. We’ve learned so much from him. I’ve been blessed to be around him and so are the other players. We’re so appreciative to be a part of this whole thing.”

(on how some of the setbacks and adversity have helped the Ravens grow as a team) “I think with anything that you go through, you always look at trials and tribulations to make you stronger. For us, we went through a lot of them. For players, period, you have to look at it as football is kind of like life that everybody else lives: you’re going to have your ups and downs and you’re going to have to put things behind you to make things work. You have to look at 53 men coming together — with 11 on offense, 11 on defense and 11 on special teams — to make one play happen and to continue to do that for 60 minutes.  The situations I think brought us closer together. Just the camaraderie with all of us has been a lot of fun. A lot of humbling experiences for the players and our coaches.  We were actually talking about this yesterday. One thing that I can do, I tip my hat to Coach (John) Harbaugh. He’s a great man and he’s a great coach. We’ve all been through it, we’ve seen it, we understand it and we’ve experienced it. Now it’s time to go make this thing happen on Sunday.”

(on if he was one of the members of the secondary who raised an issue about the turf during yesterday’s practice)  “I didn’t raise an issue. Coach Harbs (John Harbaugh) came to me about it and he asked me. It’s just kind of different as far as playing on that turf on the baseball diamond. Like we’ve said before, Tulane has been amazing, and they’ve bent over backwards for us. We can’t change what we’ve been doing. We had a great practice, don’t get me wrong, but at the same time, guys with knee problems, ankle problems and all the other stuff, after practice and after the fact you don’t want to have to deal with that for the rest of the week and then try to have to clear all of that out of your system to have to go play on Sunday.”

(on some of the things that guys were feeling after yesterday’s practice on the turf) “Well a lot of guys actually iced up last night, got in the cold tub and everything else. Just so you don’t get the swelling or the fluid in the knees from pounding on the hard turf. Like I said, we are so appreciative of what Tulane has done for us, but at the same time, we have to get on surfaces that can (help us) continue to be successful all week long and (help) our preparation to be able to go and play full speed on Sunday.”

 

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JIM CALDWELL

(on if he was considered for the Ravens head coach job in 2008 and the sense he had after meeting with them) “Yes, I interviewed for it. I’d been in Indy at that time for about five years, and often times guys that worked there had been very successful. Bill Polian, Chris Polian, Tom Telesco, all those guys. They all talked about different organizations that did things the right way, and they always talked about Baltimore when you look at all the stats in terms of teams that were able to draft well and do a great job with their personnel, got their teams ready to play. When you play there’s always a battle. It certainly felt that it was one of the better organizations in the National Football League. It was a lot of fun and interesting exercise for the interview.”

(on what he’s trying to find out when he goes on an interview) “First of all, before I go, I research. I research them from a personnel standpoint. That’s the nice thing about this league, they have a guy in house and his job is to know every single team in the league and their personnel incase someone’s released, you can decide if you’d like to pick him up or not. There’s a guy in house that’s an expert, so I’ll usually confer with him and talk about their roster and blend that with what I see and what we’d be able to do from an offense, defense, special teams standpoint, but then also, how they operate. I knew there were going to be some sticking points in different groups in terms of how I see things, and I wanted to make certain those things were brought forward so there weren’t any surprises. I also try to find out if there would be any surprises on their end of it, things they wanted me to do, or a certain protocol they wanted me to follow, things of that nature.”

(on his contribution to quarterback Joe Flacco) “That’s probably a great question for him. That’s the thing about that position in this league, if you don’t find a way to improve every week and every single week, in every facet, you’re going to find that you have a weakness that develops that the opposition can take advantage of. If the opposition sees that you don’t read coverages then they’re going to disguise you of that. If the opposition sees that you can’t handle the blitz, they’re going to give you some problems with the blitz. If the opposition sees you throw one side of the field better than the other, they’re going to shove one side down and overload their coverages. You cannot go into it focusing on just one efficiency. What you try to do is make certain that as a complete player, you want to go across the board and attack all of those areas. Even if they’re areas that you’re good at, you want to continue to improve, because it’s so completive. We’ve tried to make certain that we do all the little things right. There’s an old saying that ‘Big things will take care of themselves.’ Fundamentals, foot work, ball handling, ball security, accuracy, and timing, those are the things that evolve into quarterback plays.”

(on Joe Flacco’s demeanor in clutch situations) “He doesn’t get rattled. He has a real good grasp of what’s going on around him. He’s highly observant and it doesn’t change from situation to situation. What does change is that he performs well in big games, and I think it’s because of the fact that he doesn’t get so hyped up that it affects his play.”

(on the media getting hung up on numbers and if the coach or the player cares about that) “There are numbers that certainly count. The ones that matter are the loss counts. ‘That guy knows how to win games, he knows how to win.’ That’s the important fact that I think a lot of times people miss from time to time. That should be the focal point. He’s won more games on the road and in the playoff’s than any other quarterback in the history, I think that’s correct I’m not certain. He’s won more games than any one in our business for the first five years. Anytime you start saying that he’s in a top two or three category in this league, he’s doing something right.”

(on Joe Flacco being confident in himself) “He gets excited about ballgames because he loves to play. He has great passion for the game, but it doesn’t disrupt his focus and concentration. He does have a pretty settled and calm demeanor overall. He has poise.”

(on Joe Flacco as a person) “He’s a good family man. Joe is from a tight family, and he has a big family. I think he has five brothers and sisters. He grew up in an area where all of his extended family lived fairly close to one another, and that’s important to him. He’s a husband, he’s a father, he has young Steven. He’s a proud father, as well. He’s also a very loyal person, extremely honest and straightforward. He doesn’t shy away from tough questions, and he’s going to tell you what he thinks.”

(on trusting Joe Flacco and what makes him special) “One of the things is that, obviously, he’s earned that trust in this league. That fact the he performs so well in difficult situations, his teammates trust him, and the staff trusts him, as well. I think you’re going to continue to see him get better because of his excellence. He works hard, and I think he’s starting to see some of the things he’s been working towards for so many years.”

(on if he thinks Joe Flacco gets the respect he deserves) “I think he gets the respect from the people that he cares about most. His teammates, his coaches, and those people that are close to him, and I think that’s what counts. I think everyone else has a way they evaluate different individuals at his position and that relates to our sport, but I think he handles that well.”

(on how he feels about the role as offensive coordinator) “It’s been busy, but it’s been a great challenge, so I’ve really enjoyed it.”

(on the balance of his attack) “The great thing about our unit is that we have a lot of playmakers. When you have that many playmakers you want to make certain that you find a way that allows them to express their personality and their talent level. We have to change it up quite a bit. We run the ball a good measure, and the reason being is because we have two very fine tailback’s, an outstanding Pro Bowl fullback and an offensive line that can block you as well and come of the ball and be physical, receivers that don’t mind blocking, so we have to make sure that we can give them the ball and the opportunity to do so. We also have some fleet footed receivers, guys that can get down the field, guys that can stretch your defense, and guys that are big playmakers like Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, and the list goes on. With that in mind, that makes us look at a situation and make certain that we do have some balance on our offense because we do have a number of guys that can do something with the ball once they get it in their hands.”

(on if it’s a chess match to see what the defense is giving you) “That’s correct. A large portion of our game is also in the audible family depending on what the opposition does to dictate if you run or pass. A lot of it will depend on what they give us.”

(on what the receiving corps brings to the table)Torrey Smith has been a big play receiver for us throughout the year. He’s a guy that can get down the field and make big plays. He’s a guy that you have to make certain that you cover because he can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. He runs a variety of different routes for us; he’s a multidimensional guy. Anquan Boldin, often I think people think he’s a lot bigger than what he actually is because he plays big. He comes up in a lot of big plays, strong hands, strong arms, physical, and a great route runner. His experience, he’s been around a bit, he’s an exceptional leader. Jacoby Jones can certainly break a game open with his talent. He’s got speed. He’s a guy that we use in a variety of different ways. You can see what he’s doing for our team in terms of special teams and punt returns. He’s a threat to break it at any moment, and it gives us that explosiveness on offense also. He’s got length, and can catch the ball and run with it. Dennis Pitta is a very talented tight end. Ed Dickson does a tremendous job for us as well. We have a sound, solid group.”

 

DEFENSIVE TACKLE HALOTI NGATA

(on the physicality of the matchup with the 49ers) “It’s going to be a real physical game. They pride themselves and their offense prides themselves in being physical and trying to run the ball. They have a physical running back. We want to be physical all the time. I expect it to be a real physical game.”

(on overcoming a rough defensive outing against Dallas to return to Baltimore’s tradition of defensive prowess) “We had to adjust some things. Back then, with that Dallas game, Houston game, Kansas City… I don’t think all of us were on the same page. So, we had to change some things up and once we started to gel, we got a lot better.”

(on what the phrase “Play Like A Raven” means) “It means being nasty and playing rough, tough football. Playing with some type of cruelty, but not trying to kill somebody. It’s a nastiness where you’re going to impose your will on teams, so that’s we what want to do.”

(on the 49ers physicality and if they are the most physical team Baltimore will play this year) “On film they’re definitely a team that looks really physical. Frank Gore is a really physical running back. I think that helps a lot with their physicality on offense. So, definitely on film they look real physical.”

(on the origin of the team’s mantra: “Play Like A Raven”) “Harbaugh brought it in when he started coaching us. He brought that motto to our team and we just took off with it. We always talk about it. There’s a sign at every practice and every game that says ‘Play Like a Raven.’ That’s always there.”

(on what O.J. Brigance, a former Raven and current staff member battling ALS, means to the team) “O.J.’s been huge. Just seeing him showing up to our practices and being around our facilities is definitely huge, his strength and his example. When you’re having a rough day and you look at O.J., there’s no reason to complain. That person right there is fighting for his life and we’re complaining about having double days or being sore. He brings a lot to the team. His heart and strength definitely makes our team that much better. We love him very much, and we’re glad he’s a part of our team.”

(on what it would mean for the Ravens to see O.J., who won a Super Bowl ring with Baltimore in 2000, win another Super Bowl) “I think it would be huge. A lot of us are playing for certain teammates on our team and O.J., but we are all playing for ourselves as well. It’d be huge for O.J.”

(on comparing the 49ers offensive sets to teams Baltimore has faced this season) “They’re like a Redskins team. They have a mobile quarterback that can run and throw the ball. They are similar that way. They run option plays. They kind of remind you of a Washington Redskins team.”

(on preparing to face a unique offense with multiple threats in the running game) “It’s rough. We have to try to cover all our bases because you have to worry about the running back but the quarterback can also run or throw the ball at any time. So, it’s going to be tough to do it all the time. If we can communicate well through all those plays, we’ll be fine.”

(on any advantages John may have coaching-wise going against his brother) “They both know each other well. There’s really no advantage there. That’s pretty much it.”

(on overcoming hardship as a team after losing 4 of the last 5 games in the regular season) “That’s just growing and getting through adversity and having faith in each other. We definitely became a closer group as a team. Defensively, we had to go through some injuries as a team, but it’s always been great to have the younger guys or the next guy step up and play a big role. Corey Graham came in and stepped up really big for us. It’s huge that we can have great depth and players on the team that can step up and do really well for us.”

(on a recently released survey that showed some players disapproval with the handling of injuries in the NFL and his own feelings toward the league’s injury protocol) “I’m fine with the injuries and the way they handle that. I’m fine with whatever they do.”

(on the soreness he, and NFL players in general, feel after games) “It depends on what happens. Usually, if I’ve gone through the game, I’m really stiff and sore. If you do the right things, you’ll be fine.”

(on the opportunity to send Ray Lewis out as a winner in his final game) “I think it’s huge. All of us want to help Ray do that and go out a Super Bowl champion. I think more importantly he wants us to do it for ourselves and not only for him. That’s what a lot of us are doing. All of us are going through our own things and we can all come together.”

(on this game’s role in passing on the torch from the older guys, like Ray, to the younger guys on the team) “We have a lot of great leaders on our team. Whatever happens next year with who we have and who we don’t have, it all depends. We have a lot of younger guys like Ray Rice and Joe Flacco stepping up with guys like Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed. So, those guys can do a lot of great things. It’s not going to be any problem, but losing someone like Ray definitely leaves a big hole on our team.”

(on finally reaching the last day of media sessions) “It definitely takes some football time away. I’d rather just meet or do more practicing. It has been fun to be a part of it. It’s a great experience.”

(on facing the 49ers’ offensive line) “They’re so big and they move really well. They play well together. With all that size, you see them do a lot of great things. They open holes for Frank Gore, who is a really physical running back. That also helps, when you can have a running back that can pound you as well. It definitely helps that line look better.”

(on how playing rugby has helped him as a professional football player) “It helped a bunch. I played it for four years all through high school. With rugby it helped with a lot of the conditioning, open field tackling, discipline and all that. I think it just helped with a lot of things. Running with the ball is what made it more fun.”

(on guys like Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick ushering in a new era of quarterback play) “It’s getting more tough to play quarterbacks like that because you need to be more aware of what they can do with that triple threat. They’re handing off the ball, running the ball and throwing the ball. You have to make sure you play very disciplined defense and communicate really well. Communication is probably the biggest key. When you have a dive, a quarterback, or a pitch, communication is definitely a key.”

(on what he wants to tell the fans in Baltimore in anticipation of Sunday’s game) “We’re really excited. We can’t wait for this game to happen. We understand that we can’t play until Sunday, but we are really confident and excited.”

(on how he dealt with the loss of his parents) “At the time, I took it really hard. I’ve never lost anybody that close. I didn’t do the proper things that I needed to do to mourn correctly. I wasn’t doing as well spiritually and physically as I wanted to do. I tore my ACL the next year and that brought me back a little bit. With my mom, I understand what I had to do. It was easier when my mom passed understanding that my religion would help me. Family members and my teammates at Oregon helped me. I’ve always had a bunch of support. With my dad passing away first, I didn’t know how to handle it. That’s the biggest difference.”

(on playing against Frank Gore) “I like Gore. He’s definitely trying to run away, but my job is to give him a hug and bring him to the ground.”

 

CENTER MATT BIRK

(on what has impressed him most in the playoffs about QB Joe Flacco) “I don’t think it’s just this postseason. He’s done it all year. He does it all the time. He just goes to work and does his job. He’s certainly played well. I think Joe always plays well. There have been some games this post season – because of situations we’ve been in or the way defenses have played us – where they’ve kind of said that Joe’s not going to be the one that beats us, so they focus on Ray Rice and try to take away the running game. Those games have kind of been in Joe’s hands and he’s stepped up and gotten the job done. I’m impressed by it, but I’m not surprised by it.”

(on being satisfied with the medical care he’s provided as a player) “I’ve always felt like I’ve gotten great care from the teams I’ve been on. Obviously it’s a tricky situation. As players, we expect to be safe and we want to be safe but at the same time we play a very physical game. I think that we can always make strides and always continue to improve the type of care that we’re giving our players while they’re playing and after they’re playing. We can’t expect them to take care of everything. I guess I’m saying that unfortunately it’s part of the game. Guys suffer. I’m not saying we should try to solve it, but we should try to take care of them the best we can. Doctors aren’t perfect. The medical system isn’t perfect. So I would say that I’m satisfied. I think that we do get great care and obviously they invest a lot of money in players to try to keep us well and keep us productive and on the field. Some of that responsibility has to fall on the player.”

(on adjustments the offensive line has made this postseason) Bryant McKinnie had to move to starting left tackle. Jah Reid went down. He was our starting left guard, so Bryant moved into left tackle. Michael Oher goes from starting left tackle to right tackle. Kelechi Osemele moved from right tackle to left guard. So there are three new pieces in there and it’s worked out well. The guys have had to move have had the biggest adjustments and they just did it. That’s what was best for the team. We figured that gave us the best chance to win and have those five guys out there. We would just try to make the most of it.”

(on being outspoken about player safety and defense) “There’s just a sense of what’s right. I’ve always felt very fortunate to be able to play this game, and obviously to make a very good living doing it. That hasn’t always been the case for players. I came into the league in 1998 and played with guys who were in the league in the 1980s. Financially speaking, they were quick to tell me it always hasn’t been like this. In 1994, things started getting pretty good for the players. They’ve continued to be good. They reminded me that it hasn’t always been like this. This has been a long, hard fight. It started way before I got here. So I think there is a sense with those guys that because of their actions and their sacrifices, they’ve allowed us to do this and be able to provide for our families in such a manner that we owe it to them that we try to take care of them as much as we can and give back a little bit. Because medical care, all of those things, it wasn’t the same 30 or 40 years ago but the players today are the ones benefiting from it.”

(on plans to donate his brain when he died) “You get used to (the conversation). Like I said, I compare it to being an organ donor. To me it’s not that big a deal. Terrible pun – it’s a no-brainer (joking). It really is, because once you’re gone, you’re gone, and if some or your organs or body parts can help somebody else or help further the understanding of the effects of football then I’m all for it.”

(on worrying about the effects of football in his life) “Sometimes you worry about it, especially if something happens like you can’t find your car keys. You think, ‘Oh my gosh.’ You overreact a little bit. You think, ‘Is this from football, is that why I can’t remember why I came into this room?’ It’s not, especially if you’re a parent. You have mush brain. Do I worry about it? I don’t worry about it but I surely try to do everything I can to keep myself healthy and if I can try to prevent something that happens down the road, I’m going to take those precautions.”

(on his current level of play and deciding whether or not to retire) “I will think about my decision after this game. I’m playing until I’m not. There’s a lot that factors into that. It’s not just football. It’s family. I just really like playing with this group and this team, with the group of guys playing the offensive line, playing for Coach (Andy) Moeller and Coach (John) Harbaugh and all of those guys. I think that’s why I’m so inspired and motivated every day to keep working hard to keep trying to get better.”

(on taking his time to think about retiring) “I don’t think that anything would happen Sunday that would make me decide right then and there or sway my decision either way.”

(on Joe Flacco in the playoffs) “It’s Joe. He’s always had great focus. He doesn’t get caught up in all the things that come along with being an  NFL quarterback. He’s always focused on the task and I think he just loves football, loves preparing, and loves going out there and competing. The catch that he gets, the contract and all that stuff, I don’t think it’s really that important to him. It is but it isn’t. At the end of the day I think his main focus and his task is to just play in the game and to play as well as he can.”

(on the Joe Flacco saying the offensive line has been a key in the post season) “That’s just of Joe to say, but we just try to do our job and give Joe and Ray (Rice) and Dennis (Pitta) and Anquan (Boldin) and Torrey (Smith) and Bernard (Pollard), all our guys, all our playmakers, chances to make plays. That’s our job, to do our job so that those guys can do the special things that they can do.”

(on his previously expressed opinion opposing gay marriage and how that differs from his openness to having a gay teammate) “I guess I could say this as many times as I want and people aren’t going to believe you, but that’s not a hateful attitude towards people who are gay. I have gay people in my life – gay people in my life that I love. If you’re asking me if I would accept a gay teammate: yeah absolutely. It would be really not that big of an issue to me personally.”

(on why no NFL player has publicly come out as gay) “It’s probably because of fear and how they’re going to be accepted or not accepted in the locker room. I think most NFL players feel very fortunate to be able to do this for a living, so maybe if a gay player comes out, they might think it might hurt their career or their chances. Unfortunately, I think it’s just based on fear of the unknown and how people are going to react.”

(on whether or not he and Brendon Ayanbadejo (who has advocated for gay marriage) have had debates on the issue) “Yeah, we’ve had some discussions. Obviously on the issue of marriage we couldn’t be further apart, but he’s my teammate and I respect him. I’ve known him since before he was my teammate and continue to respect him. I just think he’s wrong and I’ll just kind of leave it at that.”

(on where the Ravens are in terms of preparation for the game) “I think we’re right where we normally are for games, come this time of the week. You try to keep things as normal as possible and just try to prepare like we always do as players and as a team. We’re kind of creatures of habit. We have comfort in our routine and that takes some of the guesswork out of things, so we’re just trying to keep things as normal as possible and I think we’re right where we’re supposed to be.”

(on practice translating to game play) “You can’t practice hard and well and not get better and that’s our motto. That’s how Coach Harbaugh runs it – Coach John Harbaugh (laughs). We came ready to work and are going to work, because we’re here so we might as well work and make it a great day. In anything, whether football or life, hard work is the key to success.”

(on distractions in the media this week) “During the course of the season, it’s so long that stuff happens whether it’s public or in your private life. Stuff happens. Part of being a professional player is being able to block that stuff out and compartmentalize things and stay focused on the task at hand. That’s what it takes to be a professional athlete. Some guys can’t handle that. They don’t last long. I don’t think teams that can’t handle issues that come up are going to be successful, because things happen. Life happens. I’m not really concerned about the distractions or issues that the 49ers have had. There’s stuff out there about lots of different things on this team. That’s fine. We’re not going to let it impact our preparation and our performance on Sunday. That’s just the mindset that we have.”

(on practicing on a baseball field with crosswinds in New Orleans) “It’s just part of the deal. It’s the way it is. You can’t do anything to change it. Like I said, we were out there and said, ‘Hey, let’s just go to work and work hard and not worry about what we don’t have but focus on the opportunity that we do have to have a great Wednesday practice.’ I think we did that.”

(on whether or not he thought he would end his career as a Viking) “I guess I kind of did. I never knew when my career would end. There was some stuff there in 2004 and 2005, so I didn’t know how long I’d play. I guess yeah, because it was the team I was with. I’m from there. I was pretty happy. I didn’t foresee leaving and never said, ‘I gotta leave. I want to leave.’ Certain things happen and when I was a free agent visiting with Baltimore and Coach Harbaugh and Coach (Cam) Cameron when he was there, I just thought, ‘There’s something special going on here and I need to be a part of it.’ Probably rightfully so, from the Vikings perspective, they couldn’t do it. Thankfully I had that surgery, because since then I’ve played seven years and haven’t missed a game. I don’t think that would have happened had I tried to play through that stuff. You can play hurt for a little while, but you can’t play injured for very long. Having the surgery certainly saved my career.”

(on QB Joe Flacco’s demeanor) “During the course of the game there are ups and downs, but Joe, he never gets too high or too low. He just stays focused and I think that’s good. You get too high or too low either way and that can be a negative for your team. Joe is the quarterback and the leader. Guys look to him. He’s a very calming influence in the huddle whether things are going good or bad. I think he gets emotional in his own way. He’s got his own personality. He is who he is and doesn’t try to be anybody he’s not. When Joe does speak up guys listen because they respect him.”

(on representing the Twin Cities in the Super Bowl) “I’m very proud of where I come from. I think St. Paul and Minneapolis is a great area to be from. I think it has good people and good values. I’m very thankful that that’s where I was raised. My wife’s from there. We’ll be back there. It’s a special place and I have a lot of pride in where I’m from and hopefully, people back there feel the same way. I grew up rooting for the Vikings and was able to share that experience with friends and family that would come to games.”

(on San Francisco’s offense) “They have a great scheme, but I think you could have the best scheme in the world but if you don’t have the best players in the world, it won’t be any good. They’re just solid across the board. There’s no weak links. There’s no one guy that we can exploit. It just doesn’t work like that. Look at the names. You don’t make Pro Bowls by accident. I think they’re sound in what they do and they execute it very well. That’s very simple, but very true, and it’s why they’re so good. Our blocking scheme isn’t based on trying to confuse the other team. They’ve got their wrinkles like everybody does, but they just play good, sound defense.”

 

GUARD MARSHAL YANDA

(on his relationship with Joe Flacco) “We’re all good friends, good teammates. We’ve been at this a while, and when you have years of experience together, you just build a relationship. Joe is a great guy, and I respect the heck out of him. I like playing with him. He’s a great quarterback, and we just try to give him as much time as we can.”

(on Flacco’s calm personality) “He’s a real calm, collected guy. He’s not much of a rah-rah, pump-up, high motivator type of guy. He doesn’t talk a ton but he leads by example on the field and does a great job of staying calm and focusing on what’s important. He’s a serious competitor, too. He likes to compete and you can tell when he’s out there on the field, he’s out there to play his best football and get after it.”

(on physical recovery after football games) “It’s usually pretty rough. Obviously you’re pretty stiff and sore, and you know there will be some certain bumps and bruises that weren’t there the day before. That’s just part of the game. It’s a violent game. It’s a long year. You try to take care of your body as best as you can and stay as healthy as you can.”

(on how important the matchup between the Baltimore offensive line and San Francisco defensive line will be) “It’s important every game, just getting started up front and with the battle that’s going on between the defensive line and offensive line, if we succeed, the rest of the team will follow, so it’s very important.”

(on how to explain a team that did not make the playoffs playing well against a team that made the Super Bowl) “It doesn’t matter, a Super Bowl team or a team that’s not in the playoffs, the competition, the difference between a good team and a bad team is very minimal. Teams can show up that haven’t won a game all year and they’ll kick your butt. The competition is so stiff that there isn’t much difference between a team that’s 4-12 or 12-4. What it comes down to is you’ve just got to find a way to win, and usually we do a good job with that.”

(on how coach John Harbaugh has handled the pressure of this week and if he is more relaxed) “I think this entire year he’s kind of been a little looser, but obviously this Super Bowl week, so he’s been loose but focused, too. You’ve got to put focus right behind there. He’s confident in us. He expects us, when we go out and work, to work. We know that it makes it easier for us: go out there and work hard. He’s going to take care of us and he’s not going to be too uptight. It’s been a great week so far, and I think we’ve done a great job.”

(on how Harbaugh has changed since he first arrived as Baltimore’s coach) “Things were a lot different when he first got here, as far as, he didn’t have all his (assistant coaches) that he wanted. There were some guys that gave him fits, and he was a lot more uptight, but also, you didn’t have your relationships built. Just like anything, your first year in, you really don’t know a person. Now, we’ve got five years with him, so it’s all the relationships on the team have built up over five years with the guys that have been here. You’re more comfortable with him, you trust him, you’ve had tough losses with him, great wins, a lot of just going at it together, pretty much going to battle.”

(on what this week has been like) “It’s been a great week. They always tell you there’s going to be more distractions, and you just focus on the game. For me, it’s just been hanging out in the hotel and going out to get a bite to eat and enjoy living in the moment of playing in the Super Bowl, just trying to get some pictures when you can. My family got in town yesterday, my wife and my kids, so just hanging out with them and enjoying it. All I care about is winning the game. I’m not down here to see New Orleans, which is a great city. It seems nice.”

(on the biggest threat that San Francisco presents) “Aldon Smith, you know, 19-and-a-half sacks, but you can go with Patrick Willis, too. There’s a lot of guys, Justin Smith, but if you have to pick one, I’d go with Aldon Smith. Justin Smith complements him, but Aldon Smith.”

(on if he’s learned anything about his team that he didn’t know before this week) “Just that we’ve got a veteran group and guys that know how to take care of themselves and be professionals. That’s all really they ask of you: be a pro about it and take your job seriously, make sure when it is time to work that you work. When we go to practice and in meetings, be locked in because that’s the most important thing. We want to stay high. We’ve been playing well, and we don’t want to dip by any means. We don’t want to lay an egg.”

(on what Super Bowl memory from his youth resonates the most with him) “My first Super Bowl memory is the 49ers with Jerry Rice and Steve Young. I think they were playing the Chargers (in Super Bowl XXIX). I was a little kid. My favorite player was Jerry Rice. I had a bunch of Jerry Rice jerseys and liked the 49ers. I was a young kid, and the 49ers were hot back then. It was easy for them to be my favorite team.”

(on if there was an offensive lineman that he tried to pattern his game after along the way) “You watch a lot of film. You watch everybody. You watch tackles, you watch guards. I’ve played tackle, too, so you watch a lot of tackles. You try to be the best you can be but also understand that every guy is different. You’re body type is way different than anybody else’s. Sometimes your blocks are going to look a little different, or you’re not going to be able to do what that guy does. You’ve got to find your own way, with how you feel you do it. From my years of playing offensive line, I’ve found what works for me and I do that and accept that. I just try to be great and take advantage of the tools that I’ve been given. We watch guys all the time. There’s a lot of great ones out there.”

(on if he does a lot of self-scouting) “Yeah, we’re continuously watching ourselves on film. Sometimes the way you feel, the way you set in a passing set, you’re feeling strong and then you watch yourself of film and you’re like, ‘I don’t want to be like that.’ You compare yourself, and on film, sometimes it’s not the way (you want to play). You’ve got to go back and forth and self-scout and be critical of yourself. I think what made me the player I am is that I never thought I was a good player. I’ve always had confidence in myself, but I never felt like I arrived. I always felt like I could keep getting better and I still can. I think if you take that approach every day, you’re going to get better as a player. I’ve definitely gotten better every year that I’ve played the game. I just continue to keep getting a little bit better. You want to be one of those dominant players. An old offensive line coach told me back in the day that the great ones never get beat. I never want to get beaten at anything. It does happen time to time, but I want it to happen the very least amount. I take a lot of pride in that. I want to be great. I want to be a great player in this league, and you work at it every day.”

 

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR DEAN PEES

(on what he sees in San Francisco that is special) “The option pistol stuff that they’re running, I know Washington runs it some, but it’s a little different. Everyone talks about No. 7 (Colin Kaepernick), but 21 (Frank Gore) can beat you just as easy as 7 can and he’s still, to me, the main focus.”

(on the threat of the passing game and on how well Colin Kaepernick can throw the ball deep) “He’s very good, he’s very accurate, but again, I think he’s done a great job and they’ve done a great job with putting him into a system and building a system to make him successful, but to be able to throw the ball deep you have to have guys that can run deep. (Michael) Crabtree and Vernon Davis and Randy Moss can run deep. You can have a guy that can throw a deep ball, but if you don’t have anybody that can actually get to it then it doesn’t make any difference. The difference is, they can really spread the field on you.”

(on preparing for the Super Bowl compared to the season) “Every week the quarterback has less and less ability to run. First of all, we had (Andrew) Luck, (Peyton) Manning a little less, (Tom) Brady a whole lot less, and now all of the sudden we’ve got this guy. It’s as different as it could be in the last four weeks.”

(on comparing Washington’s offense and San Francisco’s) “There’s a difference in the running game. Really Washington, for the most part, went to the zone read and the option. The difference with San Francisco is that they’ll line up in the pistol and run all the zone options, but they’ll run their whole offense out of that same look, where Washington didn’t necessarily do that. The passing game is a lot different.”

(on who will be in the main stress points defensively when the pistol is being run) “Whoever is playing five-technique or six-technique. It’s whoever is over the tackle or at the end of the line of scrimmage. Those are the guys, not that the inside guys aren’t very accountable to it, but the guys that he’s really trying to option are always the guys that are at the end of the line of scrimmage. That could be an outside backer or a five- technique defensive end, either or.”

(on how much of a level of discipline and reaction has to be employed) “You’ve got to be a football player. It’s this simple, just like in all defenses, you have an assignment, but they bottom line is we are to tackle the guy who has the football.  That’s the main thing. Going in and blowing up No. 7 (Colin Kaepernick) when you know he doesn’t have the ball really serves no purpose. We need to tackle the guy with the football. If you think 7 has the football, then tackle him. If you know he’s handed it off, then go play football. That’s still the bottom line of defense.”

(on the big stage this will be for Colin Kaepernick) “I have no idea of his mental makeup. I don’t have any idea if this is going to be a big stage for him. Obviously it’s a big stage, but he handled the NFC game pretty well, away and in a hostile environment. The way we approach it is that he won’t have any problems handling it and we wouldn’t ever want to handle it any other way.”

(on what he sees on the 49er’s tape) “They’ve got a lot of plays. If you chart all their plays, they’ve got a little bit of everything”

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