AW: It was a difficult situation, obviously, getting let go right after you restructure a deal. To have a new coaching staff come in and do whatever it is they have to do, as far as letting veteran players go and things like that, it was a decision that they made. It was something that I’ve dealt with emotionally and I’ve put it behind me and I’m ready to move forward with the New England Patriots.
Q: Your time in sub packages was reduced last year and some people speculated you lost a step. You played at such a high level in 2011. Where are you at physically right now?
AW: I feel good. The situation last year was strictly a coaches’ decision. I don’t think that had anything to do with me losing a step, but obviously nobody gets younger; they only get older. Physically I feel great. I take great care of my body, so that’s not an issue as far as where I’m at physically. That was a coaches’ call. It was something that I had to deal with and I dealt with and I continued to practice hard and just kept trying to encourage the guys and kept moving forward.
Q: What did Bill Belichick say to you that sold you on New England to be the right spot for you?
AW: Whenever Coach Belichick calls, you answer. That’s not a call that you send to voicemail. Obviously, being able to be competitive every year and being able to play not only for the playoffs and the division championship, but also to have a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I’m going to come in and compete with everybody else and see what my role is on the team. I have no problems with that. Coach Belichick was very upfront and I have nothing but total respect for him and what the organization has done throughout the years. New England was definitely my first choice. I don’t know what all the reports were saying that I wanted to stay out West, but that wasn’t true. It wasn’t a hard sell, but at the same time, talking to Coach Belichick and kind of getting an understanding of what he wanted from me, I just felt like it was the right fit.
Q: Did you take any other free agent visits? There have been some guys over the course of their careers who come to New England late in their careers, particularly Rodney Harrison, and have success here. Did you go into this looking at Rodney’s situation and drawing inspiration from that?
AW: To answer the first question, I did have a couple other visits set up, but we were working toward setting those visits up. For me, it wasn’t teams that I felt like were going to better as far as competing for a Super Bowl. At the end of the day, that’s what every player wants. To answer the second part of that question, Rodney is a great player. He’s been a great player in this league for a very long time. He came to New England and won a championship. I don’t compare myself to anybody. I really want to stay away from the whole Rodney Harrison comparison. He’s a great player. He’s done a lot in this league; he’s probably going to go into the Hall of Fame. I’m just trying to find out what my role is for the Patriots and just compete with all the rest of the guys and hopefully I’ll have a role on the team.
Q: There aren’t a lot of safeties around the league that are built like you. How much of your game is predicated on physicality and toughness? Is that something you were able to sell the Patriots on as one of the strengths of your game?
AW: I believe my tape doesn’t lie. I think whatever I put on tape, that’s what I am. You can’t change what you put on tape. I came in in 2001, so there weren’t all these rules where you can’t hit players and all this other stuff. I was brought up in that toughness type of aspect and the aspect of setting the tone for the defense, being that guy that would go out and do whatever he had to do to let the offense know what type of day it was going to be. That’s what I came up in when I first came into the league. I’ve tried to taper my game a little bit toward the rules and what it is now. Football is physical; football is a man’s sport. I just hope that I can convey that same message to the secondary that we have there in New England now. Just go out there and be Adrian and be who I am.
Q: Can you talk to us about your leadership skills and your approach to leadership?
AW: I was a follower first. I was a guy that first came into the league, I watched veteran guys that were already on the team. I took my backseat to learn from all those guys and molded myself into what I wanted to be as a player. To be on a team that wasn’t very good coming in, really adds to it a lot more as far as film study. We weren’t playing with 10-plus Pro Bowl players on the team, so a lot of our work was probably a lot more than what the other teams that were good was. The commitment level that I have to not only playing the game as far as playing football, but also the commitment to the classroom and doing what you have to do in the film study and making sure that you’re on the same page with all the rest of the guys and making sure you understand each guy’s strengths and each guy’s weaknesses. I feel like once you have that, you can go out there and play anybody and be successful.
Q: You mentioned rule changes. How do you think the new rule change about players delivering hits with the crown of the helmet will affect the NFL?
AW: I don’t know. They voted on it and it passed, so we’ll see how it goes.
Q: Who are your Final Four picks?
AW: North Carolina State, VCU, Florida and Kansas.
Q: Are you going with N.C. State to win it all?
AW: Of course. Why not?
Q: Have you had any sort of connections with the guys who are already in the Patriots locker room?
AW: I have zero connections with anybody that’s on the roster. I have talked with a couple of guys in the locker room:
Q: Is Kyle Arrington willing to give up his number?
AW: I told him I know he just had a new baby. I know he signed a new contract but I offered him a year’s supply of Pampers. Hopefully he gets back to me.