Asante Samuel Q&A: Super Bowl LVII, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick
In our exclusive interview, the two-time Super Bowl champion looks ahead to Super Bowl LVII and reflects on his career with the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots.
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Asante Samuel gives his Super Bowl 2023 Picks and Predictions: Eagles are going to win it all
Did we get the best two teams in the Super Bowl?
I think we absolutely did. The best teams prevailed to make it to the Super Bowl. The Bengals and the Bills are not too far off being the top teams, but I think the Eagles and Chiefs are going to be a great matchup.
If the Eagles are to win this game, how does it happen and who are the stars for them?
It’s definitely going to be Jalen Hurts. I think him using his legs, helping the run game, and then throwing it over the top for the long ball is going to be the star of the game.
But the X-Factor, I’ve got to go with Darius Slay. He goes out there, he locks down, he makes a big play to help us win the game.
On the other side, what about the Chiefs? If the Chiefs get a win, who are the stars and how does it happen?
It’s got to be [Patrick] Mahomes. He has to spread the ball around. He has to create plays with his legs, extend plays, throw the ball deep and get the ball to the speedy receivers. That's the key to victory for Kansas City.
If you were playing in this Super Bowl, how would you go about stopping the two Eagles receivers, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith?
When I have a chance to be physical with them, I’m going to be physical. I want to put that intimidation factor in, you know what I mean? I am going to get up in their chest and wait for my chances to get the ball because I don't change my game up for anybody. When you throw the ball my way, I have to go get the ball. That’s what I'd do.
What are you most looking forward to in the game?
I'm looking for excitement. I'm looking for two great teams, one great defense and two great offenses going at it. I'm really looking forward to some explosive plays. There is just a lot of excitement. It’s going to be a star-studded game.
What are some of the one-on-one matchups you're looking forward to?
Like I said, Darius Slay and James Bradberry for the Eagles. I want to see them against the Chiefs’ wide receivers. I want to see how they will handle those guys. They’re going to be in a lot of single coverage, and those receivers have a lot of speed.
Will the Eagles’ soft recent schedule help or hinder them in the Super Bowl?
For me, being a two-time Super Bowl champion, you want to make everything easy as possible when you’re entering the playoffs and heading for the Super Bowl. I think that made everything a little better for them, but that's why you play so hard in the regular season.
Do you think the Philly defense is set up for success for years to come?
Yeah, absolutely. I think they filled all the spots with the right people, and they should have a long run.
What are your thoughts on Nick Sirianni and the job he’s done?
He’s one of the people I’m talking about when I say they chose the right people. I don't know if he's from Philly or not, but it just feels like he belongs right with us. He’s definitely a Philly person.
If Mahomes wins the Super Bowl, where do you think he would rank among the greatest quarterbacks of all time?
He’s going to be moving up and up. But how many Super Bowls has he got? One or two. He’s got to keep playing consistent, keep making it to the championship games.
In the end, who wins it all?
Obviously, the Eagles are going to win it all. The final score is going to be 24-17 Eagles.
Eagles fans and his Eagles career
How significant was that moment for you when you signed for the Eagles as a free agent?
It's one of the best moments of my life. As a kid, as an aspiring football player, your whole life, you're waiting for these moments. For them to actually come true is kind of like hitting the lottery. It’s 20 years of grinding, fighting off injuries, not getting hurt so much. It's like, ‘Hey, man, I'm here.’ Now I got to go prove to everybody why I'm here.
What are some of your favorite memories from when you played for the Eagles?
I had a lot of good memories. I think just the camaraderie of being around the team. I came from New England, where a lot of people were older and not as young and energetic. Then I come to Philadelphia, where there were a lot of rookies. That atmosphere kept me young for quite a long time, competing with the younger players. Those are the best memories.
Tell us about the Philadelphia fans. What was it like playing in front of them?
Everybody knows the Philly fans. They're the best in the world. They let you know when you win or when you're not playing right, when you're not producing correctly. They're going to build you up when you're doing great and they're going to talk cash money shit to you when you're not doing so great. You have to be prepared. Don't expect to be playing bad and everybody will still be happy for you.
How do you think the fans are enjoying Jalen Hurts at the moment?
They’re loving it. I went to a game and they're loving it. It's like a McNabb reincarnated. Jalen Hurts is showing that he's a winner, a MVP-caliber quarterback. The Eagles got what they deserve.
Where do you rank Andy Reid as a coach?
I think you have to put him up at the top. I didn’t really study Vince Lombardi and the coaches from way back in the day, but from my era he is definitely one of the best coaches. He understands his players, he understands how to run a team.
He also respects his players. He wants you to do great. He wants you to take care of your family. All of these things are just as a man. Forget the football, we're men. I have a lot of respect for Andy, for those qualities.
Have other coaches that you played not had that mentality?
It was just a breath of fresh air. The Patriots, they always say the Patriot way, which wasn’t my way. I don't go no Patriot way. I think everybody got brainwashed and caught up in that style and that atmosphere. I'm a man first. Regardless of what is going on in life, I'm a man first.
I want to be treated according to respect. You respect me, I respect you. You want to take care of your family, but you don't want me to take care of my family. I don’t have respect for that. It's a different type of atmosphere.
Asante Samuel on his Patriots Career
You won two titles during your time with the Patriots, including one where you beat the Eagles. How do you reflect on your time in New England?
It was definitely a learning experience. It helped me a lot. Going to a team with a bunch of veterans who had a lot of wisdom which helped me from going off at the deep end. They helped educate me and gave me knowledge.
Most of all it was not getting in trouble. Not going out partying. Tom Brady, Mike Vrabel, Rodney Harrison, Willie McGinest, everybody was family oriented. Everybody wanted to be successful. That's what helped me out.
What was it like playing under Bill Belichick?
It was not a good experience. People think we won, and that was great, but when we lost, the players would be depressed and down.
I remember one day vividly. We won the game, but he cussed everybody out after the game. Everybody's walking around with their head down, and I'm like, “What the hell is wrong with you? Pick your head up. Don’t let this man take you down. We just won.”
Do You know how hard it is to win games in the NFL? I never fell for none of that stuff.
Do you credit Belichick or Brady more for the success over that era?
We are not giving Belichick credit. He didn't have it before Tom [Brady], he ain’t got it after Tom. If he wants the credit, he needs to go do it after Tom.
We’re waiting on you, Bill. Right now, it’s going from sugar to s**t. I’ve never seen the Patriots go through all this craziness.
The coaching staff, everybody is everywhere. That’s who he really is.
Don't look at what Tom did, look at now. This is who Bill Belichick is.
Do you think he's got another Super Bowl in him?
That's what we're waiting on. If he does win the Super Bowl again, I can't do nothing but say he's the greatest ever. Until then, he’s just another everyday coach.
2008 was a near-perfect season for the Patriots. How tough was it losing to the Giants?
It was definitely tough. We had a lot of veterans on the team. We had Randy Moss, we wanted to win a Super Bowl for him. Everybody had one common goal. To go undefeated that far and then lose the last game, it definitely hurt. But hey, I was a free agent that year, so I was ready to get away from all that craziness.
Asante Samuel on Tom Brady retirement
What were your thoughts when hearing Tom Brady retired for the second time?
It was like Tom, I know you're saying this, but you really don't feel that. You really don't want to say this, but you got to do it sometimes. He had a great career. One of the best ever, so let it go. Enjoy your life. I’ll meet up with you on South Beach somewhere and we can chop it up. Talk about some old times.
Where does he rank in terms of the greatest players of all time?
He's definitely No. 1. He's the best ever. And if anybody wants to argue, I'm here to debate it. He proved it. People don't realize that him winning Super Bowls with B, C, D caliber players, the wide receivers he had, how special Tom really is.
If he played one more year, where would you like to see him play? Does he have another Big Game in him?
I definitely think he still has a Super Bowl in him. For quarterbacks, it’s nothing but your arm and your thought process. As long as you have your mental strength.
I would love to see him with the Dolphins and watch him with Waddle and Tyreek Hill and go crazy. Their defense is always on point. Miami, South Florida, we deserve a Super Bowl.
What are some of your favorite memories with Tom?
Playing with Tom was great, because I didn't know who Tom was. I didn't understand he was the greatest ever, so I treated him like an everyday player.
Reflecting on it now, it was just different. Tom is really one of those awesome guys. On and off the field, he is very inspiring. He's a great leader. I learned a lot from him.
Asante Samuel Jr.
How proud are you of your son and everything he is achieving in the league?
Super proud. You’ve got your son in the league, it’s a dream that you don't even think about dreaming until they get closer. Now it’s come true, it’s a great experience.
How much advice do you give your son? Does he lean on you?
He leans on me when trouble is around the corner. When he needs to tighten things, that's when he come to me. We talk whenever we need to talk. It's not necessarily like it's a week-to-week, day-to-day thing, but whenever a situation come up or we just want to speak, say what up.
The biggest part of it is you’ve got to take care of the situation in the offseason, you’ve got to practice and obviously go through the technique. So, that’s when we mostly handle things.
What was it like watching your son get three interceptions in a playoff game?
It was amazing. Every time he got another interception, it was just like, is this really happening? Unbelievable, man. I know for him, if anybody get three interceptions in a game, it’s an amazing feeling. So, I know he was feeling great out there.
NFL season 2023-24 and Current NFL players
What team do you see improving the most next season?
I’m going to say the Denver Broncos. They have the talent. I don't know what's going on with Russell Wilson but they’ve got a great quarterback. They’ve got Sean Payton now, and I think they just have the best ceiling to reach the top.
Which young quarterback are you most excited to watch develop?
Daniel Jones has surprised me a lot. I didn't think he was as good as he achieved this season. I’m excited to see how much better he can get.
Which current cornerbacks stand out to you?
Patrick Surtain III. He is really doing his thing. He’s really locking it down. Sauce Gardner is also doing his thing, but you know me, I’m a ball guy. You got to go get that ball. Trevon Diggs, he’s really putting it on as well.
Does the pass-heavy game right now make cornerback a more valuable position than ever?
I think it was always very, very valuable, but people just didn't see the value in it. But now they’re really showing how valuable it really is. It should be one of the highest paid positions in the game.
Which current wide receiver would you have most trouble matching up with?
For me, this is all about the quarterback, too but I'm going to say Tyreek Hill because speed kills. That’s the one thing that affected me. If you just had average speed, a possession receiver, you can't really do anything. You're not going to make me move off my stance. Tyreek Hill, with his speed, would give me a challenge.
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