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Houston Prepares for Super Bowl; Patriots Fans Criticism of Roger Goodell Examined; Matt Ryan Discusses Playing in Super Bowl. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired February 4, 2017 - 14:30   ET



[14:30:28] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to Houston, Texas, home of Super Bowl LI. I'm John Berman alongside Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report's lead NFL writer, also here with us in with the fans right now, some faces you will recognize, Hines Ward, Super Bowl XL MVP. He can throw and man, can he still catch. Also with us, Coy Wire, a former team captain of the Atlanta Falcons. They have amazing perspective of this whole thing from the inside, stories you will want to hear. They'll be up with us in just a second, so stick around for the next 30 minutes to enjoy this unprecedented spectacle.


BERMAN: They say everything is bigger in Texas, and it doesn't get any bigger than the Super Bowl. The Patriots, the Falcons, New England versus the world, up against the brotherhood. Tom Brady and the NFL's best record versus Matty Ice with the league's number one offense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel confident. We've got a good football team.

BERMAN: Bill Belichick's mantra, do your job. Dan Quinn's rally cry, "Bring the juice."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get ready for Sunday. It's going to be a hell of a game.

BERMAN: This is "Kickoff in Houston," a CNN Bleacher Report special.


BERMAN: We are right in the middle of it all at the Super Bowl live fan festival. I have to say, in the interest of full disclosure, it's not exactly a completely impartial group up here.



BERMAN: Just to be clear. I'm a little bit of a Patriots fan. You know, 40 years with the Patriots fan, and 44 years of watching TV. Coy Wire actually played.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: The nerve of you, John Berman. I just dry heaved.


WIRE: Look, 51 seasons the Falcons have been around. This is Super Bowl LI. I think they have a chance this year. They can rise up and get her done. It's going to be a great game.

HINES WARD, TWO-TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: And I grew up in Atlanta. So I grew up a Falcons fan. I was there when Dion Sanders was too legit to quit.

But, I played against Tom Brady. Let me tell you, Tom Brady is a bad man. He's the best quarterback ever in the history of NFL.

BERMAN: Turns out the guy can play football.

MIKE FREEMAN, BLEACHER REPORT NFL NATIONAL LEAD WRITER: And he's also very motivated. Tom Brady no matter what he says, no matter what the Patriots say, he is mad. He wants to have Roger Goodell hand that Lombardy Trophy over to him. All the players want it too. They are very angry. They want to win this game for him.

BERMAN: Tom Brady is motivated. So are my people up in New England. I have to tell you -- they're my people. This is the seventh time the Patriots have been to the Super Bowl with Belichick and Brady, but this one, it's not getting old. It feels different. And for some proof of that, we have Andy Scholes. He is outside of the NFL experience with some of the finest people on earth, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. This season has been dubbed the Tom Brady revenge tour. And you won't hear Brady talk about it really at all, but it's really become the rallying cry for all of Patriots nation. I came out here to radio row here at the Super Bowl where you could feel the passion of New England sports fans all the way down here in Houston.


GERRY CALLAHAN, WEEI SPORTS TALK SHOW HOST: Brady won't say it. Belichick won't say it. But to New England, it's about revenge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is for you, New England.

CALLAHAN: They always think it's us against the world, but more so now than ever.

MICHAEL HOLLEY, WEEI SPORTS TALK SHOW HOST: Patriots fans just think that Roger Goodell tried to take the franchise out at the knees and tried to railroad Tom Brady.

DAN SHAUGHNESSY, "BOSTON GLOBE" COLUMNIST: You hear his father go off on Roger Goodell last week, and I think that represents the feeling of the family.

TOM BRADY SR.: He went on a witch hunt and got in way over his head and lie his way out numerous ways. HOLLEY: It's good to hear his family share some of the feelings that

he has and he'll never let on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because we hate him and New England hates him -- and we absolutely do and rightfully so.

CALLAHAN: I would call it a pure 100 percent hatred.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conceited, shallow, cowardly.

SHAUGHNESSY: I've really never seen anything like it. He is the all- time target, worse than any villain on a team. It's across the board, he's become the devil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you've not been in Foxborough in two years since the deflate-gate investigation. It feels like there's still a war with the Patriots, their fans, and you.

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: I would tell you that it's not awkward at all for me. I have no doubt that if I wanted to come up to Patriots game and I asked Mr. Kraft, he would welcome me back.

[14:35:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Roger Goodell is intentionally avoiding going to games?

CALLAHAN: Oh God, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it a problem? Are you scared?

CALLAHAN: He is afraid of the reaction he would get if he stepped in the Gillette stadium.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a cry baby. He's scared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the Patriots win on Sunday, do you think it's going to be awkward on that stage?

HOLLEY: I don't think Goodell wants them to win so it would be very awkward for him.

SHAUGHNESSY: It's a big bowl of awkward any way you slice it.


SCHOLES: Multiple people told me that Tom Brady's really not holding a grudge at all. He's really in like a Zen-like mood and he's even reading a book about being at peace with himself. And so while Brady has given up the deflate-gate right, the fans here in Houston, the Patriots fans and around the world, John, are continuing the cause.

BERMAN: I've got to say, I love to see that, loving the passion right now. Thanks so much, Andy.

Hines, you were at the AFC Championship game. You were there when they were chanting, "where is Roger?" Brady said, I didn't hear it, I was concentrating on the game, but I bet you he heard it. WARD: No question about it. John, this has become personal to the

Patriots fan base. Roger Goodell has become public enemy number one up in Boston, because I feel like they got stabbed in the back by someone with the suspension because he's such good friends with owner Robert Kraft.

BERMAN: And Mike, Tom Brady asked about this constantly. Roger Goodell also has just been hanging over him for the whole season.

FREEMAN: It's been hanging over him, and I've been around the organization all season, and there's no question that when you talk to the players, they are motivated to beat Roger Goodell in part. They want to win. They're the Patriots, they want to win, but they want to beat Goodell, and they want Brady to win because they feel he was treated very unfairly.

BERMAN: And Coy, what about that? If you're in the locker room, you're not Tom Brady but you're one of the guys who plays with him, do you care?

WIRE: As a former player, I can tell you, if that were my quarterback, if my quarterback was suspended for something he said he didn't do, being chastised and berated publicly, his legacy called into question, you could be darn sure, John, that one of the reasons I want to win this game among the many is for Tom Brady and for Pats nation for redemption.

BERMAN: It's interesting because that was one of the main story lines coming into this week but it really shifted with Tom Brady over the course of the week because he opened up in a way that we haven't seen before, and it all seemed to start early on when asked about who his hero was. Listen.


TOM BRADY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: I think my dad is my hero because he's someone that I look up to every day. And, my dad, it's been a challenging year for my family, for some personal reasons. And it's been nice to have everyone here watching us. My mom and dad, they've just been so supportive my entire life, and it's nice to be here to show them, you know, try to make them proud.


BERMAN: You know, Mike, I cover the Patriots, or I follow the Patriots, I should say, wicked closely, as they say in Boston. I didn't know that the family was going through these things. What's the status?

FREEMAN: I don't think anyone did. We know this week that his mother has been ill. And that's part of the emotion that you saw there. And he's obviously very close with his father. But we also know his mother is obviously in a special place for him, and she's been ill. So we know that and I think that was part of the emotion you saw.

BERMAN: Hines, you spoke to Tom Brady after the AFC championship when you had a chance to talk to him about a lot of things. The family is a big deal to him.

WARD: No question about it. Just to piggy back off of Mike, you heard dad sticking up for his son. This has become a family affair. You attack one, you attack all. I mean, I could tell you more than anything, Tom Brady wants this Super Bowl win more for his family more than anything.

BERMAN: Quite a family when it includes Gisele, also. We should mention that.

WARD: They're all going to be here.

BERMAN: So Coy, it was weird to see so much emotion surrounding the Patriots in some ways, because emotion isn't one of the things you associate with them necessarily. They're fairly robotic. And you got a real sense of that at one point.

WIRE: There's no doubt about it. Despite the emotions, this is still a team of machine-like beings built to outperform their opponents in specific situations. My contract was up. My agent calls me one of those years and he says the Patriots want you to play third and one to two in fourth down situations only to stop the run and maybe I could cover a tight end. They do better than anyone in the league at piecing specific players together to perform in special situations. They have a roster full of them. That's why their right back in the Super Bowl.

BERMAN: So they could push the emotion way to the side when they need to.

So we've been talking about the Patriots much to the chagrin of Mr. Coy Wire.


BERMAN: But there's another team here, and there is another great team here, and there's another great quarterback here in Matt Ryan, and when we come back Coy Wire sat down with the quarterback who may be the best quarterback in the world right now to find out what makes him tick. Stick around.


[14:43:37] BERMAN: We're back at Super Bowl live fan festival, and yes, the Patriots have been here before, but they're not the only team with swagger. The Falcons have it too, and Coy Wire, a lot of that is because of the quarterback, Matt Ryan.

WIRE: Yes, Matt Ryan was a teammate of mine for three years. I watched this guy, and he was always confident. But when I spent time with him before coming down to Houston, there was a little more sense of confidence to him, a little bit more bounce in his step, this look in his eye, you know, when someone walks in the room and they just own it. That's Matt Ryan now. I had to find out what it is, so I went inside the mind of Matt.


WIRE: I've never known you to lose your calm no matter what the situation. You Matty Ice. What the heck did you do this off-season? Was there something you did to make yourself better?

MATT RYAN, ATLANTA FALCONS QUARTERBACK: I think when you believe in what you're doing, it's amazing how that leads to self-peace for confidence in games. The Navy talk about you rise to occasion, you sink to the level of your preparation. I believe that you prepare the right way so that when the situation comes, you do exactly what you prepared yourself to do.

WIRE: So that's the philosophy going in, but it's human nature, when you get in that moment, the heartbeat is going to rise, the temperature is going to rise. Is there a trigger word or something that you do to help snap you back to that confidence and that peace of mind?

RYAN: For me, it's couple of deep breaths. Slow breath in, hold it, and then slow breath out, and do one or two of those, and then let it go and then just do what we're trained to do.

[14:45:06] I heard a quote when I was young that when it comes to a moment, don't let the moment define you. You define the moment. And I feel like making things bigger than they are sometimes distracts you from doing what you're capable of doing. We've been throwing the football and making these plays since I've been 10 years old, and just do exactly what you would do in the backyard when you're out on the field and you can trust yourself to be able to get it done.

WIRE: I want to talk about old Matty Ice when he was 10 years old. I want you to look at these, man, and just tell me what this journey has been like for you and your family.

RYAN: Well, I mean, they're such a huge part of my life. And, you know, for me, I grew up, I was the third of four, and so my older brother was like, four years older than me. And he was always kind of the carrot that I was chasing. I was trying to keep up with him and play with him, and just be good enough so that they didn't kind of kick me to the curb, they would just include me.

And it was amazing how that kind of motivated me or just drove me to be, you know, my best and better than I could be. But then I met Sarah while I was at BC, and I think she probably gets it better than anybody the commitment that it takes to be successful, to be your very best, the strains that it takes on you both mentally and physically.

WIRE: So if you could go back and tell this little guy about how he can prepare for the journey that's ahead, what would you say?

RYAN: Right there, I was playing full back number 20. I think I was one of the 75 pounders. But, yes, just enjoy it, man. It's been so much fun. I don't know if I ever really thought I would be sitting where I'm sitting right now, you know, at that age. But it's been an awesome journey and I've been very fortunate.


WIRE: Well, guys, this journey has brought him to his first Super Bowl in his ninth season. The lights are going to bright. It's a tall test. He's inexperienced with it comes to this moment, but the entire team is. Just four guys on the Falcons team have had Super Bowl game on their roster. So they have a chance though, and it's all because of Coach Dan Quinn. This is a coach who has coached in three of the past four Super Bowls if you go back to his tenure with the Seahawks. He knows the pitfalls. He knows the potential distractions, these guys are well prepared.

He had the wives and girlfriends come in at a team meeting Arthur Blaine told me last week so that they knew what to expect when they came down here to this Super Bowl. He had them ready for this moment, and I think we've seen it this past week. They look like they've been here before.

BERMAN: He's a man with a plan, a team with a plan. Hines Ward, you've had a chance to look at them, watch them play. How good are the Atlanta Falcons?

WARD: I thought my Pittsburgh Steelers, I thought we were a balanced team, but then you look at the Falcons, they're up here, right. It's going to be a nightmare for the defensive coordinators and Coach Belichick to really try to figure out how to stop all the weapons.

FREEMAN: It's going to be a nightmare, but we have to talk about. I hate to be the bad guy.


FREEMAN: I hate to do it, but he, Matt Ryan has been a guy who in big spots has not been like Hines Ward who has come up big in big spots. He has choked in big spots. This is a big legacy game for him. If he wins this, it transforms his story almost overnight. But if he loses it, idiots like me will be saying there he goes again in a big spot and not coming up big, so this is a huge moment for him.

BERMAN: He's got more weapons than he's had ever had before, a better scheme than he's ever had before. Maybe this will be the time when it doesn't happen.

OK, collectively, the four of us up here have two Super Bowl rings. They are all on the hands of this man, Hines Ward.


BERMAN: We've got a ton of questions for Hines about what it is like to be here and play in the big game, so stick around.



[14:52:10] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hines Ward, you and the Pittsburgh Steelers just won the Super Bowl. What are you going to do next? WARD: I'm going to Disneyland, baby.



WARD: I could watch that every day.

BERMAN: Hines Ward the MVP, that's the Disney commercial, going to Disneyworld. Bringing "The Bus" Jerome Bettis alongside.

WARD: He was a great mentor of ours, a big brother. And it was a nice way to send the big fella off on a nice farewell.

BERMAN: You're the only one of us up here who has played in a Super Bowl. So let's get inside what it feels like. We've got 24 hours still until the players arrive at the stadium. What's happening?

WARD: You go into an undisclosed location, you know, a secret hotel, and you kind of take on the mentality of us against the world, a band of brothers. You don't have the distractions of all the Super Bowl parties. It's a way to just focus and be amongst each other to prepare and get ready to play.

WIRE: I got to tell you, I wish I knew what felt like. I played nine years in the league, never made it to the Super Bowl. I got to go last year for my first time as a fan. I never wanted to go unless I made it as a player. It was my first Super Bowl. I felt this wave of emotions just to feel what it would be like to be on that field. I can't even fathom. You know that three times over what that's like.

WARD: It starts with the warm-ups. Just going out on the field, warming up, seeing the celebs, you want to put on a show. I saw Jamie Fox over there. Let's do it. You get to the Odell Beckham on the sideline, let me tell you, John, I was exhausted coming off the warm- up, coming off the field. I had to get a lot of Gatorade and prepare myself and hydrate myself again because I wore myself out during warm- ups.

BERMAN: You did something that's never happened to you before. You went into the locker room.

WARD: And I threw up.


WARD: The nerves of playing in the Super Bowl, I don't know what it is. I mean, because you're just drinking, you're nervous, the anxiety. I excused myself from the locker room and to the bathroom, washed myself off, but I'd never ever done that before. I tried to be cool.

FREEMAN: So do those nerves ever calm down?

WARD: No. It's the Super Bowl. You are trying to make every play possible. I remember in the first quarter, I ended up dropping a pass, something that I catch 10 out of 10 times, but I wanted the perfect play. I tried to get my feet in bounds, but I forgot to catch the ball. Luckily, I had another opportunity and luckily I won the Super Bowl MVP. So I was fortunate enough.

BERMAN: Hines Ward, that telling us he doesn't drop a lot of passes.


BERMAN: And in fact the next year, the next Super Bowl against the Cardinals, you caught a pass early and you winked at the sideline.

WARD: It wasn't my first rodeo. I felt comfortable. I knew the ball was coming to me. Right when I caught the pass, I got up and I winked to the sideline to the Arizona coaches and just let them know we came to play. I'm ready.

BERMAN: The big question, we got the big game coming up. We've got the Falcons, the Patriots. Who is going to win? When we come back, it is prediction time.


[14:58:44] BERMAN: So many amazing moments this week, Hines Ward and so many of his fans. It seems like half of Pittsburgh came to Houston. Coy Wire was there with a budding young reporter, a lot of questions to be asked here. Coy knows how to do it. That kid did too.

Prediction time. I'm a Patriots fan. I say the Patriots win but they don't cover the spread, so less than a three-point victory. Coy Wire?

WIRE: I've been saying all week 30-28, my former team is going to get the victor over the Patriots. Even though they have the greatest quarterback and coach of all time, this is the year for the Falcons. They rise up and get it done.

BERMAN: Hines Ward?

WARD: Not so fast, my friend.


WARD: I got to go with the Patriots. I mean, Tom Brady, I've only beaten him once in my entire career. The guy is special. I bow down to him. Hands down the best quarterback ever. I think he wins his fifth Super Bowl.

BERMAN: Mike Freeman, last word.

FREEMAN: Look at this football. It's not deflated.


FREEMAN: The Patriots win, Patriots win easy. It's not a deflated football.

BERMAN: We had to wait until tend of the show, it still made me get a nervous tick there.

All right, guys, thank you all so much for being here. This was "Kickoff in Houston." What a week. Enjoy the game.