Earlier today, I was granted the privilege of having an exclusive one on one phone interview with Patriots safety Sergio Brown. Brown, who signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent last season following his career at Notre Dame, enters his second year with the team in 2011.
In the interview, Sergio and I discussed a variety of topics from his Notre Dame career under Charlie Weis to his rookie campaign to his lockout activities. But before we get started, I just wanted to thank Drew Rigsbee of ETL Associates for making the interview happen.
Greg Knopping: I think, off the bat, I'm sort of obligated to ask you... how's the lockout been treating you?
Sergio Brown: It's been a lot of free time. Time to work out and have time to yourself... but I'm kind of anxious to get back to work.
Greg Knopping: I could imagine. And have you been following the progress of the CBA [negotiations] at all?
Sergio Brown: Yeah, yeah, I've been following it a little, as much as I could, from what my agent's been telling me and all the older players and just talk.
Greg Knopping: Yeah, and it's been looking pretty optimistic now, which is always a good thing.
Sergio Brown: Yeah, it's a real good thing. Been giving us hope.
Greg Knopping: So going back to your Notre Dame career a little bit... you spent your Notre Dame career playing under Charlie Weis and then you came to the Patriots last year under Bill Belichick, who had Weis as his offensive coordinator during the team's three Super Bowl Championships. What differences have you seen between the two coaches and do you think playing under Weis helped your transition to the pro level under Bill Belichick?
Sergio Brown: Yeah, I think it has helped me in the transition, because I mean they're pretty similar and [have] a lot of the same type of styles, the same approach to a lot of stuff. But they're totally different coaches at the same time; one offense - one defense. But, you know they're both just trying to win football games.
Greg Knoppping: And speaking of your Notre Dame career, do you have any one moment that particularly stood out as special to you?
Sergio Brown: I would probably say my first game my junior year. It was like my first game ever playing. That actually was like my first game ever playing on defense and we played San Diego State and I had a pretty good game - it was a lot of fun.
Greg Knopping: So your first good college game is against San Diego State and your first good pro game is against the [San Diego] Chargers.
Sergio Brown: Yeah, I was thinking the same thing about San Diego. I like California, I guess.
Greg Knopping: After Notre Dame, you signed with the Patriots. What was your thought process behind that decision?
Sergio Brown: I mean it was... I was trying to sign with a team as a[n undrafted] free agent. We had to break down teams. Who do you think you have a better fit with? Who really keeps free agents? I was familiar with New England's style because of my relationship with Charlie Weis at Notre Dame. And it like... it was almost a no-brainer. I knew it was cold up in Boston but other than that it was almost a no-brainer.
A whole lot more of the interview after the jump!
Greg Knopping: And what was the process like going from the practice squad to being activated to the 53 man roster, to being a huge contributor in your first professional game against the Chargers?
Sergio Brown: You see the truth was it wasn't too much of a transition. I mean, there were practices and all the other stuff the only thing that was different was traveling with the team. In practice, everyone competes, everyone practices and I was getting a lot of reps - a lot with the scout team - but they worked me more and more on the regular team and it really wasn't too much [of] a transition because they keep everyone ready there in New England.
Greg Knopping: And was the Chargers, going back to that, was that your favorite moment of the season, or was it something else?
Sergio Brown: I guess I could say that was my favorite moment of the season. [It was] the first time getting my feet wet, playing in an NFL game I was so, so, so, so excited it was a pretty good outcome.
Greg Knopping: As a rookie, were there any players that you really looked up to as a leader both on and off the field - maybe on the defensive side of the ball?
Sergio Brown: I mean, on the team, I would say all the DB's and definitely the safeties that were ahead of me - James Sanders, [Brandon] Meriweather, [Brandon] McGowan. They were a great impact and how I look at things on and off the field and they helped me grow in my first year as an NFL player.
Greg Knopping: And this offseason - moving on from the 2010 season - there was already some coaching change at the safety position. Corwin Brown won't be returning to the staff, and Matt Patricia, who worked with the linebackers last year, has been assigned as safeties coach. What do you think it will be like with Patricia as your position coach?
Sergio Brown: A lot of film. A lot of studying. ‘Matty P,' he's a great guy and a great coach. And he's real passionate about what he does so... I think, it'll be a lot of work but I think it will be a great outcome for the whole situation.
Greg Knopping: This year, whenever the CBA gets solved, Jarrad Page and Brandon McGowan are scheduled to be free agents. And even Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders are entering the last years of their contracts. So what type of opportunity might you see and how are you looking at the competition heading into training camp?
Sergio Brown: You look at it as you want to do the best that you can do, of course. And those things, they play a factor in what other people think I would say but really what I'm doing is I'm worrying about Sergio and how Sergio can get better and how Sergio can be the best player that he can be next year and for the rest of my career. There's a lot of stuff that you really can't control and if you just worry about yourself and working as hard as you can [then] a lot of good stuff will happen.
Greg Knopping: And do you have any goals for this year personally, or on a team level?
Sergio Brown: Really to have my role with the team grow from last year and to keep growing as I continue to grow as an NFL player.
Greg Knopping: Going back to the lockout for a little bit - How do you think the lockout will affect the Patriots as opposed to other teams?
Sergio Brown: You know, I'm not really sure how when I think of as opposed to other teams. I mean - it'll be some effect in how we play because we haven't been together as much as we would be other years. But then again it's still my second year - going into my second year this is my first offseason. So I'm like kind of [new] to a lot of things still and I don't know how a lot of things would play out if I had an offseason last year. But, I mean it will be okay we have good chemistry within our team and we met a couple of times over the offseason and all of the players keep in contact. So I think we'll be pretty good.
Greg Knopping: And you were mentioning the team workouts and stuff - you thought those went well and you took part in those?
Sergio Brown: Yeah I took part in those I thought they went pretty well. Everybody orchestrated [to] get everybody together and really get to see each other's faces and get some friendly competition going.
Greg Knopping: And who - besides the big team workouts - have you been working out with any other players that are on the team or Notre Dame guy or...
Sergio Brown: I've been working out with Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes a little bit. When I'm back in Chicago I'm working out with a couple of Bears - [Johnny] Knox and [Devin] Hester [and] Tommie Harris - and a lot of people that are from Chicago that come back to work out
Greg Knopping: And we'll end with this one. Lets just say for a casual fan who might not know that much about you, how would you describe yourself as a player - maybe on the field and maybe a little bit off the field - you know, in just a few sentences?
Sergio Brown: A hard worker. On the field, I look for the ball. Any way I can get to the ball that's, you know, a ball person. I would rather get the interception than the big hit - if I was put in position. But I'm just a regular guy trying to play football, trying to be a good football player.
Greg Knopping: Alright Sergio, I appreciate it, thanks for taking the time to talk to me and good luck this season.