vIQtory Podcast: Matt Chatham On Belichick and New England

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This episode features 3x Super Bowl Champ, former NFL Linebacker: Matt Chatham. He is currently an analyst but took the time to talk about the early days of the Patriots dynasty and provides incredible insights into playing in the NFL. Follow Matt on Twitter @chatham58 !

 

Show Notes

0:45 – College Decision

5:45 – “When did you know you were NFL ready”

7:44 – Draft Day experience

12:02 – Discussing Free Agency

17:20 – Adjusting to a new NFL team

21:00 – Patriots 2001 season

26:00 – Patriots 2003 Season

29:15 – Scoring first touchdown

35:20 – Playing with (now) coaches and great football minds

39:52 – Analyst Career

43:24 – Playing Special Teams Prep

46:20 – The Gauntlet

 

Transcribed

Chris Haddad

hello and welcome to the victory podcast

 

my name is Chris Haddad alongside my

 

co-host as always Steve McGrath

 

today’s guest three-time Super Bowl

 

champion Matt Chatham if you are

 

unfamiliar with Matt Chatham well let’s

 

get you familiar North High School in

 

Iowa Allstate in football and baseball

 

from there he attended University of

 

South Dakota coming out of South Dakota

 

he signed with the st. Louis Rams as an

 

undrafted rookie free agent where then

 

he found a home with the New England

 

Patriots where of course he won three

 

Super Bowls you can find him now color

 

Reporting  ESPN writing for the

 

athletic this guy does it all Matt

 

welcome to the show

 

Matt Chatham

thanks Chris!

 

Chris Haddad

so now I want to jump

 

right into this talk about your journey

 

going from North High School why did you

 

choose University of South Dakota what

 

was the decision that led you there

 

ultimately it’s a play at linebacker

 

yeah I mean I’m City Iowa City is about

 

a hundred thousand people the closest

 

thing comparable here that that a lot of

 

mass fans would know is it’s a little

 

bit like Worcester comparable size

 

comparable demographic kind of thing so

 

I actually kind of grew up thinking I

 

was sort of a city kid I mean I know it

 

sounds silly or from Iowa but I mean I

 

wasn’t pro farmer anything like that no

 

I get background nothing along those

 

lines but I went to a high school of

 

like 1500 students you know at a pretty

 

good-sized graduating class and and the

 

only school that was a Division two

 

school that was I mean that I had even

 

mildly entertained with USD I was a

 

die-hard Hawkeye fan I will Hawkeye fan

 

as a kid all my other visits were vision

 

one schools hayden fries the old head

 

coach at the time there when I was

 

coming out and I coming out of high

 

school in 95 so I you know I took two

 

fish by took my official visit and took

 

an unofficial visit back to Iowa with a

 

Michigan State game at Northwestern I

 

mean I was wined dined loved it they

 

didn’t offer me though and in part at

 

the time this is you know they would

 

give you the speech they love the Oh

 

Matt just hold on and there was another

 

guy a star a head I mean you know I’m a

 

three he’s a four kind of thing and he

 

was a bigger name dude from Texas that

 

they were holding on holding on holding

 

on to the last minute

 

and he did one of them now I think this

 

is pre hat flip because we’re good night

 

buddy the didn’t announce it until they

 

up and when he you know we got within a

 

few days of signing day and I had other

 

places I had a visited Iowa State and

 

University of Northern Iowa which is the

 

police school at the time and Texas Tech

 

was my other offer to go down and I just

 

didn’t take it you know it was too far

 

I’m like kind of a homebody and I was

 

like I wanted I wanted so badly to be a

 

haka it’s my dream since I was a little

 

kid and it with my parents you know you

 

have a full-ride scholarship we’re

 

middle very middle class whatever that

 

competing just the idea completely fully

 

paid school it’s really tough to turn

 

that down and I’m having that debate

 

back and forth with my parents about

 

trying to wake the thing out on Iowa and

 

you know the other schools to get

 

nervous so they’re gonna pull it they’re

 

gonna offer something else

 

and that happens so we eventually just I

 

couldn’t wait to see what that kid was

 

gonna do and I it sounds pejorative I

 

guess or whatever sounds negative with

 

with South Dakota but my frame of mine

 

is a 17 year old kid at the time is that

 

that was kind of my fallback school and

 

and I ended up accepting their because I

 

was kind of left out the cold he

 

switched on them I will talk to Mia but

 

all we can be a where the priority walk

 

on or something like that at that point

 

I was like no no my parents like no no

 

you’re going with us he is and by the

 

other time this other place has offered

 

me I had gone away because I waited out

 

the other school so I went USD had an

 

awesome experience there though you know

 

got that got the play right away when

 

you go to the smaller school and

 

definitely needed the development time I

 

was six 495 pounds when I came out I

 

played safety for a full year of college

 

that first year and you know I’m played

 

the NFL in the 250s so like I was really

 

thin and tall so you kind of don’t have

 

a position that’s actually what Hayden

 

Fry had kind of poked me about at the

 

time when they weren’t aw for me is like

 

what are you what are you gonna play yep

 

your safety but there aren’t very many

 

six for safeties like there not a lot of

 

them out there and if I had to put

 

weight on my frame at have been

 

appointed position they had seen me play

 

so I get it so I know Bonio ste and you

 

know end up

 

while there for several years and end up

 

in their Hall of Fame and they’re good

 

enough there you know there’s enough

 

exposure at the FCS level now that you

 

know you still get look you still get

 

seen if there’s always that kind of

 

question mark over your head of well how

 

does it translate against some of the

 

bigger schools now yep

 

you know so we had at the time that was

 

called the snow bowl which no longer

 

exists but snowball at the time was

 

essentially like a Division two Senior

 

Bowl so we had sort of Harvard of it up

 

at North Dakota State his facility in

 

Fargo where they became any times Ruud

 

place but we had their I performed well

 

and kind of just sit on the outside and

 

end up signing as an undrafted free

 

agent

 

I’ve waited way to a third draft my

 

agent at the time was buddies with John

 

Clayton from back in the day the ESPN

 

guy a long time and then we’d get the

 

little call you know a little text

 

message or whatever called during the

 

draft you’re on the board in the fifth

 

round you’re on and the six Cleveland’s

 

interested in these interested st. Louis

 

those are the three themes they just

 

wait wait wait and then you’re sitting

 

there going oh crap now I didn’t be on

 

none of the three happened so yeah

 

that’s why I just want to back up a

 

little bit here

 

Chris Haddad

so when you were coming

 

out you had a great four year career at

 

South Dakota when did you know you were

 

essentially NFL ready and like started

 

to get agents prepped in or was it just

 

you know I just got closer to it it was

 

you know people started to talk he went

 

to his this is gonna become a reality

 

because you performed well the snowball

 

Matt Chatham

yeah I think that’s I think part of it

 

and III see this because I just kind of

 

get how it works not it’s certainly not

 

patting myself on the back because III

 

there’s a lot of my own teammates that I

 

played with it played just as well at

 

the collegiate level you know you super

 

tackle got one of my buddy the best

 

friends Nate Lake Nathan Lake was our

 

middle linebacker he’d make every tackle

 

you know you know with the offense

 

everything’s going to Nate but what what

 

happens at that level pretty frequently

 

is you know it’s the the body type match

 

you know Nate’s six foot into 25 I’m 64

 

and you know 240 or whatever so you know

 

and I can run you know you I test better

 

and that’s what kind of what happens a

 

lot of times at the lower levels and

 

it’s you know it is what it is you kind

 

of fortunately I had that body type so

 

you kind of take and run with it

 

so to answer your question when I knew

 

you know you’re that size I’m starting

 

to go in my body I’m huge I look

 

probably more like a Division one big

 

school guy you know and and so even

 

after my junior year all conference at

 

that time and then they still even if

 

that even at lower level they still pro

 

days so they come but you know our pro

 

day might have a dozen NFL teams and you

 

know it’s the area scout which is way

 

way down the list there I think after my

 

junior year having a nice season people

 

started out prior to my senior I knew I

 

had a pretty good shot at it but you

 

know again it’s it’s always kind of an

 

uncomfortable situation because you know

 

you it you kind of get why it happened

 

so you’re you know I run I ran ran well

 

the 40 work out well 25 reps to the

 

bench all that stuff and that really

 

helps make the case you know it’s not

 

had a lot of tackles and divisions who

 

nobody cares about that yeah yeah

 

so that

 

Chris Haddad

so you go I mean you mentioned

 

early sixth round comes seventh round

 

comes and you’re kind of sitting there

 

waiting and waiting do you think it’s do

 

that experience and with that that day

 

was like for you

 

Matt Chatham

yeah one of the things

 

that I knew I had working against me is

 

you know preseason all-american going

 

into my senior year and you know there’s

 

a select group of d2 guys that you kind

 

of know all of the biggest time guys and

 

in Division one are gonna go the FCS

 

level there’s maybe 1520 that good shot

 

of being drafted the d2 guys it’s a

 

smaller community you can look at each

 

every year might be less than five guys

 

that get drafted somewhere and you know

 

I was kind of hearing that I was in that

 

group but in full candor we had a

 

terrible senior year our team was bad

 

three and eight I felt like I played the

 

same but I mean it’s it’s a team sport

 

so you know it takes a little shine off

 

you know so I went down with I think the

 

expectations lowered a little bit so and

 

then I actually had an MCL injury

 

nothing that required surgery but I

 

wasn’t able to do all the 40s and stuff

 

until my pro day later so I knew there

 

were a ton of knocks against me so going

 

into the draft you know I had that sort

 

of late-round tag on you that you get

 

and late means different things that

 

different people could be yeah it can

 

mean for to some teams but maybe at

 

seven you so yeah they just you kind of

 

the ride the ride the rollercoaster my

 

agent was was located Minneapolis he

 

represents a lot of Vikings players

 

which is kind of typical here in South

 

Dakota in the you know the rep Center up

 

north and I went to his house so you

 

know I’m I was drafted my agent I was in

 

uh oh I got what was it

 

Burnsville Minnesota I believe it was

 

just south of the city but city’s

 

basement big screen with just my dad my

 

dad and I’m agent and you know those

 

calls would come on the second day and

 

yeah you start you know it’s gonna

 

happen it’s gonna happen it’s gonna

 

happen but I think you know it all I

 

know works out for the best

 

I’m I’m kind of a safety guy and I kind

 

of think that it worked out better for

 

me that invariably I was able to choose

 

between the three places because that’s

 

typically what happens you oh you know

 

crap I didn’t get drafted

 

oh wait that’s actually better because

 

especially in today’s age six seventh

 

round you’re not guaranteed sticking on

 

that roster as a later round draft pick

 

anyway my being on draft they got at

 

least you get to the spot so you can

 

look at the roster say hey I’m an

 

outside linebacker well so they have and

 

what other compilations who came in that

 

kind of thing and my situation was the

 

Rams was where we chose they were coming

 

off their two and 14 season atrocious in

 

98 going into 99 that’s the year they

 

won the whole thing

 

but there was the Leonard little

 

situation and I don’t know if all that

 

well that Leonard unfortunately gotten

 

the drunk driving accident this was this

 

had happened at the he was a first-round

 

pick in 98 this had happened and I think

 

it was December end of year of his

 

rookie season he gets in the accident

 

the the the the death half and we just

 

it was a terrible situation and you can

 

imagine a something like that what

 

happened in today’s NFL would have been

 

way handled much differently but back

 

then they went through the offseason

 

kind of dealing with what was going to

 

happen and I think invariably he got

 

time served

 

so you missed the games throughout

 

December and I think that was the end of

 

it but at the time I’m looking at a

 

roster going oh okay the top outside

 

linebacker looks like you might be

 

suspended for you or you know might not

 

be there and so it look like a vacancy

 

and that was sort of the case my agent

 

was making me that’s the spot well in

 

the middle of that summer after I’d

 

already chose that spot he was

 

reinstated and then they signed a

 

veteran frame

 

and it’s like oh wow that def chosen

 

unwinnable you know you know they’re

 

much different than New England is here

 

with with the Patriots my position coach

 

literally came to me says wow that news

 

is crazy it’s good for the team well

 

you’re not going to be on the roster and

 

this is like literally before preseason

 

games it’s like you know hey saying hey

 

you’re gonna be fighting for a practice

 

coach job we love you you know you’re

 

gonna you’re gonna be a practice web guy

 

and you’ll have a chance of like well I

 

don’t want that

 

oh when I go to New York leave but I

 

would have chosen the other places just

 

had to kind of work through that

 

apparently I was released and then next

 

thing you know I’m doing yeah so I want

 

to talk about the bridge between st.

 

Louis in New England

 

now let’s Steve jump in here in a second

 

Chris Haddad

but can you talk about like just the the

 

mental the mental grind so to say when

 

you were in camp with st. Louis you you

 

know you work your tail off and then you

 

get the news is I mean the roller

 

coaster of emotions I’m sure where it’s

 

up its down its up and then New England gives

 

you a call can you walk through that

 

part of a free agency

 

Matt Chatham

well again I have

 

to kind of put a little extra detail

 

around this because I fudged some of

 

this and I I probably have one of the

 

most more bizarre starts to a career i99

 

season I was actually back home in

 

college so I had been signed by them as

 

an undrafted free agent I got that news

 

from my coach we were entering he camp

 

practices I went from you know I’m

 

taking a lot of reps with the backup

 

guys I’m on a lot of the first units for

 

special teams it’s looking good they

 

seem to like me everything feels great

 

then the news came down guy who returns

 

to practice I find myself standing on

 

the sidelines for practice you know

 

three hot days in Macomb Illinois just

 

stand there for three hours a tie and

 

also you know those I’m not a mature guy

 

I’m a young dude I don’t know what’s

 

going on and my mind is racing like okay

 

so I’m wasting my time here I want to

 

play in the NFL I’ve been practicing

 

here for a few months these guys I I

 

think I can fit in and you know I I went

 

back upstairs to Charlie army who was

 

the GM at the time and I invariably was

 

talked to talked to Coach Vermeil and I

 

said coach like if you guys if the

 

situation is change for you that’s

 

that’s okay I completely get it well I

 

want to play in the NFL and I don’t want

 

to hold the dummy for some other guy and

 

you know it’s arrogant is all hell

 

freely admit that I mean as a young guy

 

I didn’t really have

 

much of a concept of what a practice wad

 

meant I thought it was just I’m here for

 

you’re better than kind of thing and

 

today’s NFL isn’t that’s not it at all

 

you that’s just it’s a basically a group

 

that works their way up one of the

 

roster at some point during the season

 

but I didn’t see it that way at the time

 

and I had that full ride scholarship

 

back at school and in the event that I

 

didn’t use it it was going to go away so

 

I just said hey please release me I’d

 

love to go you know there were other

 

teams are interested me coming out of

 

school and they said no now we’re gonna

 

retain your rights we think you can be a

 

player force eventually so I actually

 

left camp in training camp in 99 I went

 

back to college so I entered the whole

 

99 C’s and the rams retained my rights

 

and I finished out my final semester at

 

double majored in English and criminal

 

justice graduated from South Dakota that

 

fall so that i re-entered training

 

offseason program in 2000 with st. Louis

 

so I went through that whole st. Louis

 

offseason program and that was now Mike

 

Marx’s first year so I’m back home at

 

USD college campus who’s the whole thing

 

and it’s and and the Rams are going

 

through a Super Bowl wrong on a team

 

that I was in training camp with who I

 

thought was – and fourteenth year before

 

so I mean it was one of the biggest

 

obvious most glaring and learning

 

lessons of my life that I you know maybe

 

I should have stuck that out or

 

shouldn’t have press the issue so hard

 

but then barely I come back in 20 2000 I

 

went back and talked to Charlie says no

 

we’d love to have you back when – the

 

camper everything wonderful actually got

 

my train in my playbook after the four

 

preseason games had thought that I had

 

made the roster and and so usually it’s

 

you know end of that fourth preseason

 

game will be end of the week or maybe

 

you know Thursday or Friday you have

 

that few days of uncertainty Friday

 

Saturday Sunday you think you made it

 

your coach won’t exactly tell you but

 

he’s like god you’re good that kind of

 

thing yeah and I got my I got the big

 

playbook the week one playbook and then

 

I was released on Monday he they were

 

like oh here you go back give it back

 

north on Monday you thought you made I

 

didn’t so and what had happened is I

 

always it’s been many years is this more

 

like 18 years removed from this now but

 

I think it was Tony Horne it’s really

 

good wide receiver for them but it was

 

one it was something to do with the

 

receiver situation that was also

 

returner for them and he had a hamstring

 

issue and they were really concerned

 

he’d be available for week one so they

 

brought in like this emergency wide

 

receiver and you know you learn at that

 

moment oh oh no I’m number 53 on the run

 

they’re gonna try to just put sit down

 

for a minute and they did and the minute

 

I was put down Scott Pioli you know

 

claimed me off waivers so I was told hey

 

hey we just have to protect you for the

 

weekend you’re gonna go down what’s been

 

practiced about from week one to the

 

situation resolved itself when you leave

 

back up and within an hour’s a matter of

 

hours I’m on the phone with my agent

 

going you’re going to New England and I

 

go where’s that top right right top and

 

that was it so I my only my only

 

reference was was tech mobile I remember

 

the little map with winter coats and

 

everything that’s and yeah man I’m a

 

patriot that week one I was playing

 

playing for the Pats shows because I was

 

crazy whirlwind

 

Chris Haddad

yeah and just want to make one more

 

point yeah let Steve dive in I thought

 

was interesting when we had Antoine

 

Smith on the podcast he mentioned one

 

one thing about Belichick that he loved

 

was and I’m sure you can attest this to

 

was he never kind of put you in the

 

doghouse right where some coaches were

 

putting the doghouse in to not talk to

 

you or when something was wrong he’s

 

like belcheck always address a situation

 

where if you messed up he was gonna see

 

down a film and show you why you messed

 

up so I’m sure in st. Louis I’m sure you

 

know just hearing your story you would

 

have loved to have that just some

 

clarity and some transparency of why I’m

 

sitting on the sidelines holding a bag

 

for three practices in a row

 

Steve McGrath

so bad I just want to ask now that you get to New

 

England no hindsight being what it is we

 

know that this is how you’ll match

 

either you gets the bulk of his in the

 

whole career but what’s it like you know

 

you think you’re in the Rams said you

 

know situation and then all of a sudden

 

in the course of one day it’s a complete

 

90 degree turn how do you mentally

 

adjust now to everything that you just

 

talked about to

 

Matt Chatham

now oh I’m in a new team

 

new coach I have no idea well what’s

 

going on here but I mean the season

 

we’ll get into what that actually

 

happened that season but just mentally

 

what’s your approach

 

trying to adjust to this whole new set

 

of circumstances well I think one of the

 

things that that’s really important when

 

when I was dealing with that is again as

 

an older guy now being candid about it

 

you’re not terribly equipped to handle

 

it you just kind of you’ll you know it’s

 

not as if I was some mover mature guy I

 

didn’t know what to think I was pissed I

 

was upset I was confused I was very

 

emotional you don’t sleep very well you

 

know it’s hard to eat you’re just you

 

where am i what am i doing and part of

 

this is you know I was not yet married

 

but my wife and I had been dating since

 

high school we were one of those oddball

 

stories so we had you know theater eyes

 

with a through college she was actually

 

a really good athlete but was a softball

 

scholarship to the University of South

 

Dakota really good player for the

 

Hammond place you know throughout her

 

career there so she had but she trails

 

me by a year I was just the senior and

 

she was a junior in high school we’ve

 

met but she went to she was a

 

mathematics major super smart at the

 

University of South Dakota she graduates

 

and comes down to live in st. Louis with

 

me and enrolls in an MBA program there

 

at a school called Webster Webster

 

universities in downtown st. Louis so

 

she enrolls in a two-year MBA program

 

and then I get caught and it’s not you

 

know it’s so all of a sudden is like oh

 

wow you came here now you’re stuck in

 

the two-year program so that year that

 

I’m up in that fall and I’m you know all

 

the sudden I’m at state of the West and

 

out at the airport in Boston and then

 

drove him down to Foxborough and some

 

old van or whatever and it’s the old the

 

old Foxboro Stadium so facilities are

 

pretty trashy relative to what I just

 

come from inner city and st. Louis so

 

yeah your mind’s racing you just kind of

 

feel like a jerk did Wow I had

 

confidence I was going to be there was

 

sort of a confidence mover to enroll in

 

school thinking I would be there there

 

you learn later there’s no certainties

 

in the NFL but then you’re kind of out

 

here alone so I don’t know where I am

 

airlifted I dropped into an debossed and

 

I’m taking down to this terrible little

 

hotel and I’m sorry to the people that

 

owned that place but it was a place

 

called the end zone hotel right across

 

the street from the stadium you know but

 

it’s it’s an infamous old place that a

 

lot of players have come through you

 

came in a free

 

your waivers or rookies or whatever we

 

all lived across the street from the old

 

Sullivan State in Foxboro Stadium at at

 

the end zone so you know emotionally I’m

 

staying in a hotel where I can reach out

 

and touch both walls in the hallway and

 

I can hear every conversation three all

 

down I mean it just feel very not NFL so

 

you know it’s just that first year is

 

tough and then at week one I’m on the

 

field I’m out there playing some

 

linebacker and then all the special

 

teams and I got to learn Bellatrix

 

defense in three days it’s insane to

 

even think about that in Rutgers you

 

know and looking back but you know

 

that’s that’s what it was so I didn’t

 

know anything until at least you know 12

 

months from then so really just dragging

 

myself to that first year it was I think

 

good for me in the long run but man it

 

was it was it was not easy so yeah well

 

first of all they’re definitely not the

 

Renaissance that’s in the Patriot place

 

now easy to say players today have a

 

little bit easier

 

Steve McGrath

but um you know so

 

personally you know you talked about how

 

you adjust it to it but you know this is

 

now the Patriots first Super Bowl run so

 

what is it like seeing just you know

 

you’re joining this team you’re getting

 

used to everything what so it goes down

 

so I mean it’s just sort of like you

 

have your personal turmoil the team has

 

its own situations that it’s working

 

through what was the roller-coaster ride

 

of that season and you know what point

 

did the expectations go from like let’s

 

just see you know what we can do here

 

tow you know we’re gonna go in and knock

 

off Goliath yeah one of the biggest

 

things that sometimes gets brushed by

 

and I completely get it

 

Matt Chatham

but you know the

 

18 years that Belichick has had here

 

that 511 season that precedes the run we

 

have was like there’s a brotherhood of

 

guys I went through that year that was a

 

hard year that was that was the

 

three-hour practice thing and back in

 

Monday morning doing physical stuff and

 

you know after losses in just a long

 

season you know Rob Ryan’s my old coach

 

pepper pepper Johnson both guys were

 

working with the linebackers but I mean

 

we were breaking down film and doing 60

 

and 70 hour weeks and practice and

 

you know like a normal NFL player does

 

but it was a dark place the facilities

 

weren’t great we weren’t a good team you

 

know it was a real roster overhaul one

 

of my good buddies joanne drusy with

 

starting right left guard on that team

 

Joe got cut from the Packers they’re the

 

same as I got cut from the ramped and we

 

were both brought in waivers at the time

 

so we’re both end zone guys for a while

 

but that team

 

Solly aasaiya I think I’m saying that

 

name big huge Samoan dude came in and

 

same thing another team caught a start

 

on week one you know in kid guard but

 

that team was made up the 2000 team was

 

made up of I thought I hope I get this

 

right but at the time it was like a

 

league high number of roster releases on

 

final day so basically um post teams

 

have they may be cut down to 51 and get

 

a couple of street guys and other teams

 

have cut it’s pretty unusual when they

 

go down like four or five six bodies

 

which is kind of an indication of what

 

this in-house staff believes they have

 

left of them by the last one they said

 

we don’t have 53 good guys you know we

 

don’t have 53 guys at the Wynn with so

 

we were there was whatever was

 

half-a-dozen notice that they came in

 

that were the new blood that took

 

multiple months do we ever really

 

realize what was going on but I think

 

that part that year was important

 

because you go back through the training

 

camp and it was a roster makeover I mean

 

there were so many new faces in there

 

and bill kinda just started to gravitate

 

towards the guys that he could trust

 

they played it his way the air quote

 

tough tough and smart guys and he was

 

really looking for his kind of people so

 

it was uh you know you have to kind of

 

learn to be one of those and I mean

 

there’s there’s 30 different 32

 

different programs out there they’re all

 

the same and it doesn’t have to be built

 

but if you wanted to be there you had to

 

do it a certain way and I think that was

 

probably the darkest tunnel ever went

 

through but you just feel like it was

 

such a such a good life experience made

 

you stronger down the road

 

Steve Mcgrath

Wow so obviously it worked though because you

 

know hindsight being what it is you know

 

that seems able to now come together new

 

faces Brady comes out of left field

 

knowing of course expected anything of

 

him you know out of the gate as a rookie

 

what was it like you know now that

 

that darkness is now in the past to go

 

flip the switch from the darkness to the

 

absolute pinnacle of the sport

 

Matt Chatham

I mean

 

it’s it’s it’s cool and again sort of

 

the the travels there that particular

 

year is you know you the team had

 

struggled that’s what makes the change

 

to bill they go 5 and 11 bills coming

 

from Cleveland he’d taken him to a high

 

point but it didn’t end well for him

 

there so there’s the certain cynicism I

 

think here locally about what he was

 

going to be able to do with the team so

 

she was you know happy Pete Carroll

 

being the guy that preceded him after 5

 

and 11 hard training camp down there in

 

in Rhode Island we get back we start

 

extremely slow whatever was one in three

 

we were ugly and down in Miami ugly

 

against NC I believe it was we did we

 

started the first month kind of like we

 

did the year before so even that old one

 

turnaround here most of the real happy

 

good feeling stuff didn’t come to a

 

mid-year anyway you know we started to

 

break through had the big win against

 

the Colts looked good against San Diego

 

played the Rams really tough but loss at

 

home I think it was a close game like

 

2018 somewhere in that range but you

 

know obviously know the thing when the

 

Jets came and when Drew got hurt and Tom

 

came in and replaced in but I think it

 

was just more of that wasn’t a miracle

 

season it had more of a miracle half

 

season feel to it where a lot of the

 

first half still had a very similar drag

 

to it but again I think it ended up

 

being like the 53 that it showed up

 

there in New Orleans with the guys that

 

basically made it through the wash you

 

know he was still changing that roster

 

trying to find out who his guys were

 

gonna be and we were we were damn good

 

by the end of it but it’s not who

 

arrived there on opening day for sure I

 

I just wanted to fast forward a little

 

bit you know of course is the first

 

Super Bowl team but then after that you

 

guys kind of

 

Steve McGrath

take a step back and it’s

 

not exactly the same caliber of

 

performance that the playoffs weren’t

 

happening that year but then again you

 

know fast forward another year it’s

 

another Super Bowl victory what you know

 

at that point now what is it about the

 

makeup of the guys what Belichick is

 

doing what buttons he’s pushing that

 

sort of you know it’s not now it’s not a

 

fluke there’s a second one but how has

 

that ship sort of been righted to get to

 

the point where there is no sustainable

 

success well I went to one of the

 

lessons

 

Matt Chatham

that that I kind of taken from

 

I’ve taken from coach Belichick that I

 

think is good to watch that he’s

 

certainly not you look at the Owens team

 

and all we accomplished down the stretch

 

but again that wasn’t the day one team

 

that wasn’t pay this is a flush roster

 

we’re gonna make a run at it that run

 

was really more about what that group

 

learned in season the way they sort of

 

filled in some of the cracks in how good

 

we took to the coaching and how you had

 

some really tough characters the Troy

 

Browns the world and brewskis and Ted

 

Johnson and Willie McGuinness and framed

 

microwaveable comes in and has a big

 

role kind of out of nowhere and Tom just

 

at the very infancy stage of who he’s

 

going to be Antoine Smith carrying the

 

ball is sort of a cast off from Buffalo

 

I mean we we were a motley crew David

 

Patten you know sort of revival career

 

guy David given I mean this was this is

 

a very it was on the team but the point

 

is this was a Jermaine Wiggins I mean

 

all these guys really all of them are

 

you know there’s some fringe guys then

 

there’s the Willie McGinest as of the

 

you know really high draft capital guys

 

on top of the Boyar Malloy to Bucky

 

Jones and Taiwan all those two guys

 

there’s a tremendous amount of town over

 

there but there was all it was a pile

 

together kind of group to the lesson I

 

mean to sort of reflect here is that the

 

next year I think bill still looked at

 

that roster and didn’t think it was good

 

enough to do this you know going forward

 

there was a there was a good amount of

 

turnover take hey y’all on the Super

 

Bowl and there’s like 15 of you they’re

 

not gonna be a part of it you know and

 

so he was still he was still really

 

remaking that group and you know a lot

 

of them that you know we didn’t play

 

well in o2 we were okay really go 9 and

 

17 but play well below the standard of

 

what we did at the last half of the year

 

prior so then you know but the emphasis

 

there though is it just he was building

 

something he had something of mine that

 

had a much longer view than what was

 

going on at that time so no one was

 

awesome but he wasn’t going to try to

 

play the OU on team for the next you

 

know half decade he remade it didn’t

 

quite hit out of the park then but a few

 

of those extra bodies

 

and then when you look at the o3 team

 

now he’s got more really his people in

 

there and then you’re getting ty Warren

 

and the room and Richards an older get

 

Richard Seymour’s an older guy now and

 

it’s really just his roster his views

 

started to come together better and you

 

get the right amount of people the room

 

that are willing to buy it

 

Steve McGrath

what before we could go to the next

 

world team though I need to ask the o3

 

season Matt Chatham gets his first NFL

 

touchdown look can you just quickly walk

 

us through what that was like for you

 

did you ever expect or hope to get a

 

touchdown the NFL and no what did that

 

mean

 

Matt Chatham

yeah my background income in high

 

school I was actually I almost ate as

 

his safety the senior year I remember

 

exactly what what the title was but I

 

had moved up the church in Iowa as a

 

wide receiver

 

oddly enough so I was used to be I think

 

I’m one of the ball like I like the way

 

my grave will like graves was you know

 

but I ain’t got to get the ball and I

 

had that background and I end up just

 

choosing the position in college but I

 

always wanted the ball man I like you’ll

 

love that as a kid it’s kind of weird

 

how it’s sort of random that you get

 

chosen which side you’ll go to but now

 

in the NFL

 

I mean if as a linebacker if you get it

 

touchable it’s a rarity so Tiki Barber

 

puts it on the ground

 

Tyrone pulled in a nice place shooting

 

into him I had to be my block and and

 

just scoop and score so it was kind of

 

right place right time so you know I

 

think oh gosh I mean over the course of

 

my career especially as a backup guy

 

unplanned is somewhere in the range of

 

10 to 20 plays a game at defense and

 

then all my regular special teams play

 

so yeah and you don’t get your hand a

 

ball a lot it’s just that one moment

 

it’s like yeah make the most of it

 

unfortunately turned out well funny

 

story from that you know brewski was in

 

a middle linebacker at the time I was

 

playing right outside linebacker and

 

after I’d scooped it I scored

 

I I spiked the ball and Bru ran and went

 

got the ball and you know I’m elated I’m

 

I know where I’m at at the point I’m I’m

 

so freaking out that I you know score a

 

touchdown and I’m making my way back

 

over the sideline bruise kind of

 

celebrating with me he hands me the ball

 

now I mean I didn’t register that that

 

was that ball but I just took it

 

spiked it again he comes back minutes

 

later on the side was like dummy that

 

was the mall you’re supposed to keep the

 

ball I don’t know protocol do this often

 

you know are but just now to wrap up

 

just our Patriots little segment here we

 

know of course you know Bennett area

 

again comes through the third Super Bowl

 

in four years happens at this point you

 

know what is it if you could break down

 

into maybe one or two core things you

 

know how did

 

belcheck outside of just getting his

 

guys what were just some of the guiding

 

principles that took this team from

 

where it had come from to now being the

 

first dynasty in quite some time and you

 

know unlike anything we’ve seen since

 

yeah I would say I still do think it

 

does tie into the his guys thing but

 

this what his version of the guys needed

 

to be and it was really versatile people

 

that could do a lot of stuff we were a

 

tough matchup and we played a lot of

 

close games we want every single close

 

game we were a lot of single scores even

 

through those runs were you know we’re

 

one in 22 in a row or whatever was that

 

that real long stretch of games that

 

that kind of went over the top three and

 

then oh four but through that stretch

 

that we just lose and we didn’t really

 

beat people by four score as much but it

 

was a lot of the single score stuff but

 

part of it was we were such a tough game

 

plan team ran the football really well

 

it was the more the Corey Dillon years

 

by then had a lot of really hard

 

charging tough guys low penalized you

 

know the the offensive line was really

 

good during those years defensively it

 

was just a bunch of dudes that could do

 

a lot of different things you look at

 

Rodney Harrison he’s in there by then

 

but from our linebacker core you know

 

it’s it’s something that I’m only most

 

proud of to a better part of that group

 

that that core of linebackers and has

 

Versalles it was sort of accomplished as

 

I got as those guys were you know from

 

Willie McGinest

 

on one side and variable on the other

 

and then you get Rosie Colvin who came

 

in as the extra guy who was you know

 

like a multi you know like a

 

double-digit sack I had Chicago where he

 

comes to us really not not even

 

necessary of stories like the rotating

 

third at outside he moves

 

decided to start and that moves some

 

brave insect alongside brewski and you

 

still got Roman Pfeiffer in that group

 

and Ted Johnson is a former you know

 

high pick I mean that room was allotted

 

in hilarious though is the all-time you

 

know special teams guy that of that era

 

I mean it was just it was fun to be in

 

that room to be a part of that group I

 

think collectively that was one of the

 

one of my biggest joys and really all

 

this that we had a group of guys that

 

and that crew could play a whole bunch

 

of different positions you know Fife

 

could play outside and he could play

 

inside he could play well I might at

 

least I linebacker even a little Mike if

 

he had to but he could play on the edges

 

also and it kind of became that for me I

 

had to learn to do stuff I believe it

 

was in the Oh for season when brave all

 

broke his form he had a plate put in his

 

arm and he missed a hint with games and

 

I ended up starting the games at Mike

 

was out five or six or whatever that was

 

but at that time I mean I was an outside

 

guy for life a safety in college you

 

know I’m coming down playing mostly

 

outside linebacker I’d learned Mike

 

linebacker I played a handful of games

 

as next to Bruce key or you know

 

something on the inside where and that

 

was kind of what was all about you had

 

to learn everything Freight started a

 

bunch of games to the Patriots as an

 

inside linebacker his body types at the

 

end from Ohio State you know but he

 

played really effectively inside himself

 

and even Bruce key who was at one point

 

when it was earlier in his career

 

alongside Ted Johnson he was playing

 

weak side linebacker the Ted’s Mike Bru

 

became a Mike he became the the the sort

 

of tip of the spear guy and then five

 

moved alongside him so you really have a

 

roomful of guys that kind of just played

 

all the positions I think that really

 

helped this it was that versatility I

 

mean I’m talking about the position

 

group I know best but that there was

 

really a roster full of guys that were

 

super versatile and week in week out

 

we’d come up with a new game plan

 

because people just could have pinned us

 

down

 

you know before I hand it back off to

 

Chris you know it’s speaks volumes that

 

that’s true but also look at what all

 

you guys are doing all of you are

 

analysts

 

you know of course rables now head coach

 

believe Roman Pfeiffer’s our coach at

 

UCLA I mean that versatility probably

 

has gone hand-in-hand with what you guys

 

been able to do after the life of

 

football as an athlete yeah you can

 

imagine what those

 

the linebacker meeting rooms are like

 

you got a lot of sharp dudes in there

 

they’ve got our pretty good grasp of the

 

scheme that kind of like the Arg you

 

love it yeah but it’s you know if you

 

come back with something you don’t like

 

it you know brewski be the first guy

 

throwing back up their grades to be the

 

first one of it no no we can’t do like

 

this as silly as a kind of thing now and

 

we had Dean Pease as a linebacker coach

 

for a while pepper johnson for many of

 

those years you know we that we always

 

you know rack who was the d coordinator

 

but we also had that rag we had Dean we

 

did a lot of people sort of cycle

 

through there Rob Ryan at one point M

 

pep what it was a it was a linebacker

 

room it was full a lot of strong

 

personality you know beer speed prior to

 

the earlier one Brian Cox is in there as

 

well so I mean that was just I mean you

 

know I’m I’m used to being the strong

 

personality least from college and most

 

of the places I go you get in there it’s

 

like wow there’s like 10 alphas in this

 

room like this you’re gonna get

 

something done with this group yeah now

 

Steve touched down a little bit but

 

after the Patriots you play three years

 

with the Jets when did you know

 

was it your body telling you or when did

 

you know there was time to call it quits

 

and then ultimately get into the the

 

analyst career that you’ve currently

 

sitting in yes the Jets ears or you know

 

I don’t I don’t begrudge them you know

 

it was an interesting experience it was

 

cool to go down there it was I think it

 

was more back to what my career started

 

really had to grind through to get it

 

going

 

the Jets years were a grind for me

 

because the I signed a nice deal there

 

it’s an opportunity to go down and have

 

a you know a chance to compete to start

 

and outside linebacker that was

 

important to me in free agency you know

 

is as loaded as that room was in the

 

wingull and it just that was never going

 

to happen there you’re behind guys like

 

Willie a very well stay there for the

 

rest of my career so there was an option

 

to go down and have a chance to start

 

down there our very first mini camp you

 

know the the mandatory summer mini camp

 

in New York and we’re out in the outdoor

 

fields the crappy old turf at Hofstra I

 

blew out my says only joint so your big

 

toe joint the joint of my foot I ripped

 

it dislocated my foot big toe so badly

 

that I ended up having reconstructive

 

surgery after

 

season but I’ve got my big opportunity

 

this is going to be a spot to expand my

 

role and covering Thomas Jones Thomas is

 

the Virginia running back bears running

 

back will good player having mountain

 

space I just you know covered him

 

nothing playing mini camp and I cut in

 

that turf and my pelvic on somehow and

 

it just it completely shredded and I had

 

to make a decision I’ve been named a

 

captain on the jet ski and you know

 

you’ve just arrived you’ve gotten a

 

little bit of money you feel kind of an

 

obligation after a minicam practice you

 

don’t want to bail at that point so I

 

had with the doctors to sort of decide

 

hey do you know do I have to get surgery

 

is over like now you can you can sew it

 

up tape it up and we’ll try to play

 

through the year so I ended up getting

 

this super stiff shoe they call it a

 

zero flex it’s made of carbon fiber but

 

basically I was a Nike guy at the time

 

and they would the front half of the

 

shoe is carbon fiber so there’s a flex

 

so I had to run flat-footed yeah yeah

 

what I cut I get a new purse new street

 

game cut an X in the side so the

 

sesamoid joint could stick out so

 

basically my toe would sit sort of

 

sideways you’d see the bump like a

 

personal have like a man Wow my sock and

 

you know about a half-inch there would

 

stick out the bunion other side of my

 

shoe you have to cut it to release

 

pressure so that I could stick there and

 

then I would Pat over the top of it I

 

was running around the club foot so

 

that’s a long long story to basically

 

say I got it up that oh six season came

 

back oh seven and you’ve had the

 

reconstructive surgeon so you could tell

 

you’re not the same guy you know it’s

 

like an ACL flip you know like I hadn’t

 

what so I drug myself 307 go in 208 and

 

you kind of know my wife and I like this

 

is my 10th training camp I’m not the

 

same guy

 

the opportunity that was gonna be there

 

doesn’t happen because I’m all banged up

 

but I’ve drugged myself through it cuz

 

your caffeine you kind of feel like you

 

guys still be the leader but you kind of

 

knew it was coming to an end so you just

 

you know when they cut you you’re kind

 

of like yeah I get it now before I

 

handed off to Steve for the gauntlet D

 

is the the broadcast career and

 

everything you’re doing on the sidelines

 

and with Nessa and ESPN is that

 

something that you knew

 

probably halfway through Korea hey I

 

want to get into this business so would

 

you kind of fall into it now definitely

 

fell into a Kris I was a pre-law guy at

 

the University of South Dakota so I

 

doubled in English and criminal justice

 

and I attend intended to go law school I

 

took my own SATs I applied at UT Austin

 

apply to Emory in Atlanta the University

 

of Minnesota knew of em I applied to the

 

University of Iowa and then again South

 

Dakota was my fallback school I was City

 

been waiting to go to either law school

 

or to go in the AFL and the NFL thing

 

happened for me so I tabled that but

 

when I got done you know it’s I was a

 

young guy I’m still 17 when I was going

 

into college I was still 21 when I had

 

just come to the NFL so even though it

 

was ten training camps in I was I was 31

 

so you know I was a 36 or seven but I

 

was looking at that at that point and I

 

didn’t want to go to three full years of

 

law school you’re just starting to do

 

that and then not even being able to

 

practice till you’re 35 that’s just that

 

was a tough swallow so oh I wouldn’t got

 

an MBA so I instead I I kind of looked

 

at it and had talked a lot other people

 

and you talk to other former players and

 

a lot of guys like to get investments a

 

lot of guys like to do different

 

business things once they get out but in

 

full candor we don’t have that

 

background so my thought was so you know

 

let’s take advantage of this and you

 

know get a better business background

 

before we dive into those things so I

 

went to Babson College I’d apply to

 

Harvard BC and Babson and ended up just

 

love and BAPS and it’s the number one

 

orator out for school in the country 25

 

years in a row amazing program and it’s

 

fall so you’re going and you’re in

 

classrooms like 15 people we’re all

 

starting little businesses themselves so

 

I went there no broadcast idea not at

 

all zero point zero that’s not what I’m

 

doing

 

and I lived up there and Wellesley just

 

kind of away from football you know the

 

first year I was back from New York I

 

for sure didn’t really have any

 

association with Foxborough you know

 

maybe it made me watch every game to be

 

pursued yes so but once I had graduated

 

two years later

 

sort of a restaurant I was getting a

 

little involved in some random business

 

things and the the on town the on-air

 

guy my boss now at NASA and Larry Lawson

 

Larry was courting

 

producer I believe at the time and it

 

would come down to my restaurant as a

 

Matt just you know come to one segment a

 

week come to that you know they just

 

kept knocking on that door and I knew a

 

lot of people back at KSP craft sports

 

productions that the sort of in-house

 

thing there at the stadium the Patriots

 

and paint recycle and all that kind of

 

stuff and they were they were asking

 

around to that were you willing to do

 

this stuff and what I always liked about

 

it is initially I could do it a little

 

you know I could still have the other

 

stuff and do one segment a week one show

 

a week something like that and still go

 

off and have another life but then

 

what’s happened since then is then I

 

pick up you know doing college football

 

games over weekend – being in here

 

locally you know and then nasan becomes

 

a full-time job and then uh when I was

 

gonna write and so I took a gig with The

 

Herald and then I worked at BTN for a

 

couple years and you know it’s just

 

they started compiling until you turn

 

around ago I guess I’m a full time it

 

happened real fast huh well Matt before

 

I jump into the gauntlet just one quick

 

last question for you you’ve made your

 

NFL career I’m being a special teams guy

 

and at the end with the Jets you had a

 

chance to really competing and be out

 

there but a lot of it was as a reserve

 

linebacker as well so I just wanted to

 

ask you how did you go about you know

 

how much time do you actually have to

 

dedicate to being fully prepared on

 

special teams just what was the the

 

practicing like and the the film for

 

that and how did you fit that in with

 

just your typical linebacker prep yeah

 

so I would say one of the really things

 

I liked a lot about our crew is Larry as

 

those consummate problemis lunatic but

 

he’s a consummate pro as far as a

 

preparation well he loves to dive into

 

film study and I and some of our buddies

 

in the room Jerrod cherry Don Davis

 

Patrick pass some of the lot of the

 

other guys that came and went through

 

that room but we did you know core teams

 

they that’s the phrase they use now just

 

the core for guys or whatever the guys I

 

basically do special teams as your job

 

first but you have to be good on the

 

Patriots it’s your position or you don’t

 

keep your gig and I think that’s the one

 

thing it’s a little bit unique here yeah

 

there are other places where you know

 

basically the special teams are made up

 

of the guys that don’t start in a

 

position and

 

New England kid thinks of it well really

 

you have to be able to be both if you

 

can’t there aren’t very many guys who

 

record that absolutely couldn’t play the

 

position that they were called on in a

 

moment so I would self to take four reps

 

during the practice week I would still

 

play linebacker during you know during

 

games it’s just you’re not playing 45 to

 

55 snaps you’re playing 10 to 25 or just

 

depending on what’s going on the week

 

but gentle but 30 snaps of special teams

 

too and you sort of study with you study

 

that you know a lot the same way so it

 

just kind of makes your load a little

 

heavier and I think again with us being

 

a 3/4 team for the six years I was here

 

and me being reserved I had to know all

 

four spots you know and and you know

 

pepper was great with that pepper

 

Johnson was obviously a big-time guy

 

playing for the Giants years ago but

 

they played all over the the group there

 

and they played in three fours also so

 

he said it was great having a coach that

 

understood all the sides of it and Rob

 

Ryan was it was really great as well but

 

you know you’d have to you’d have to go

 

in saying okay I only got like a period

 

maybe ten practice reps that might put

 

in their emergency I might have to go in

 

there you never know but then I would

 

have to really be honed in on the

 

outside linebacker stuff especially the

 

team’s always so what was cool is we

 

have a we had a group that we kind of

 

led the meetings with Brad Sealy you

 

know one of the best special team

 

coaches out there but as you get later

 

in the week sometimes you know not turn

 

it over the players but we have player

 

like meetings on Friday Larry get up and

 

address the crew I’d come in after and

 

we give our breakdowns on their top guys

 

and we’d have to stop the scheme to use

 

the vs. our schemes and things like that

 

so you know I think it was it was almost

 

like the little crew of entrepreneurs as

 

well so you have to be able to do that

 

you know the best teams aren’t just the

 

best coached it’s usually when the

 

players can sort of let loose and take

 

things over as long awesome thanks for

 

that Matt you know as promised we have

 

to jump into the gauntlet so I hope

 

you’re ready just go through some quick

 

hitters with you right off the bat I

 

need to know what’s more important

 

having the number one Oh or the number

 

one D Oh actually no because think

 

defense is a function of the office you

 

you can’t be in there more deep you’ve

 

got another one

 

why because number one is score a lot of

 

points so you put you in a different

 

kind of game you’re you’re the number

 

one D you’re stuck how many number one

 

o’s are upset number what these that you

 

didn’t happen

 

fair enough best team the oh one the oh

 

three the Oh for Patriots Wow we’ll just

 

say the last one compose memory my

 

memory is not great so no aunts once did

 

the first one because they they started

 

it so either way no matter how you kind

 

of there’s no wrong answer now a

 

shootout or defensive struggle

 

I like the defensive struggles I think

 

those games are actually really fun so I

 

had no fans prefer the other but not me

 

I’m right there with you

 

now is there a coach or a team that you

 

wish that you had the opportunity to

 

have played with or for I mean it’s a

 

tough question but I’d say not getting a

 

taste of that of that 99 team with Coach

 

Vermeil but not actually playing outside

 

of the preseason with that crew I had a

 

lot of respect for him I mean dicks

 

dicks obviously a different kind of

 

coach to bill but that was a pretty cool

 

environment obviously that was a special

 

team to go on and do what they did in 99

 

yeah in the back of my head I kind of

 

wish I’d stuck with that one but I end

 

up in a better spot down the road yeah

 

that’s right most talented team made

 

that you played with not named Tom Brady

 

let’s keep it on the defensive side of

 

the ball cuz that’s the guys we know

 

most and you could say tie law again

 

he’s right there but just I’ll stick in

 

my position Willie McGinest is a frickin

 

nature Willie is a fraud shoulder narrow

 

have super broad chest nine hands

 

amazing lunch can move only thing Willie

 

is Willie is you know like the Jevon

 

Kearse after him and the you know maybe

 

Davian clowny now he’s just one of the

 

even the physical freak of his

 

generation did so much for our defense

 

from rerouting guys out in space just

 

absolutely dominating tight ends and

 

Willie Willie’s the answer alright

 

spread off into our power offense power

 

if it’s spread that means Nick one times

 

with you loud get a play so let’s kiddo

 

right

 

fair enough and this is the last one

 

what’s most important the players of the

 

scheme Flyers absolutely none needed

 

none well Matt thanks again for coming

 

on you can find on Twitter or any other

 

places but you’d like to shout out

 

well I’m Chris Haddad co-host Steve

 

McGrath thanks again as always Matt and

 

we will see you guys next time thanks

 

man

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00:49:34,280 –> 00:00:00,000

thanks for having me guys all right

 

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