With under a week to go before the San Diego Chargers take on the New Orleans Saints at Wembley NFLFANINENGLAND has some great interview footage below.
I wont claim any credit for any of the interviews below, but seeing as I am sure you will want to read as much as you can with the Chargers and the Saints under a week away, here is three transcripts from earlier today. These interviews are courtesy of the fantastic San Diego Chargers PR staff. Thankyou all.
Coach Norv is in da house - for the 3rd time
Head Coach Norv Turner
How do you treat this week as far as curfews and free time and things for the players?
“We have a normal schedule. We have a pretty tight schedule and obviously these first couple days they have a little more time in terms of freedom. Tuesday is our normal day off. When we get into Wednesday it’s our regular schedule and then late in the week certainly there will be a curfew.”
When they’re at home, do they have a curfew?
“Players living at homes, apartments, houses and whatever … no there’s no curfew when they’re at home.”
You were scheduled to practice today. Why did you decide not to go on the field?
“Our guys worked out. They went in the weight room and worked out and got a workout in. Obviously we have a light practice at times at home, but after playing a game, the workout and getting the sweat going is the most critical thing.”
Have you had a chance to watch the tape from Buffalo ?
“We watched it quickly and got into it. Obviously we were in the process of doing that as you guys were speaking with Philip and LT.”
What are your thoughts about it a day later?
“The biggest thing … sometimes after the game you make comments and you may be off base and sometimes you’re right. Obviously we had two critical turnovers, one at midfield when we had the lead and gave them a short field. We had a critical interception going in (to the endzone) late in the fourth quarter. The other things we talked about: our inability to get them off the field, in terms of creating pass rush. I thought there were times on third down if we had tackled better we could have gotten them off the field and kept them putting together long drives. Then we’re not running the ball the way we need to. We need to run the ball better.”
What are your feelings about playing in London ?
“I’m excited. It’s an exciting trip for me; for our players. Our guys will handle it well in terms of the preparation. To play well, preparation is always the key. We have a great facility here. The field is in fabulous condition. The gentlemen that did the work on it and prepared everything did an outstanding job. We couldn’t ask for a better facility in terms of us getting ready. I’ve been over here a couple times in the preseason and I know how exciting the games are. That was preseason, so I know being a regular season game and the way the crowd gets into it and how they respond, it will be exciting for everyone involved.”
Last year’s Giants-Dolphins game was played in the rain and was low scoring. Do you think with conditions being different, scoring may be higher this time?
“I think every year you do this, you learn from it. I’ve been told the field is in great shape. We’ve got two very good quarterbacks. Both teams are capable of scoring points. I would like to see us score points and hold them down.”
What do you expect from the crowd, with it being not just Chargers and Saints fans but a mix of NFL fans?
“Sometimes you don’t know what to expect, but as I said, in my experiences being here, the crowds have been outstanding. They’ve been loud and full of energy. It makes for a accelerated atmosphere.”
When were you in London before?
“I came here once with the Rams and once with the Cowboys in the late 80’s, early 90’s.”
With the fans not really aligned with either team, how do they react?
“It has been a while for me but I do remember it being awfully loud and exciting.”
With the way the season has gone for the Chargers, does this trip come at a good time?
“You really have to do this, and that’s not a pat answer; you really have to do this as an NFL player or coach. The schedule comes out, everything is determined and you know what it is. You have to get it in your mind and say, ‘Here’s what it is and we’ve got to handle it.’ As I said, I think the fact that the facilities here are so outstanding, they’re going to help our guys get prepared. Playing well is about preparation. Whether this comes at a good time or not, it’s what we make of it. If we do our job and prepare properly and go out and play well and find a way to win the game, then it came at a great time.”
How did you react when you found out the Chargers were going to play in this game?
“My reaction was the same as our players: it was true excitement. There’s experiences that you get to do and I think a lot of the experiences I’ve had being involved in preseason games overseas, I think of the games I’ve been in involving unusual circumstances, and those are the ones that really do standout. Getting the opportunity to come over here and play, the excitement of the match up and everything involved, it’ll be exciting for everyone.”
What type of advantage is it to take one of your road games and play it at a neutral site?
“I’m anxious to see how that plays out. Obviously I’m sure New Orleans would rather be playing this game in their stadium. But they’re an awfully talented football team. They’re a very good football team. I’m sure they’re going to make this into their home game.”
Its no European Vacation for Phillips
Linebacker Shaun Phillips
What is your reaction to traveling to London and seeing your surroundings?
“It’s kind of exhausting, especially coming off a game like we had (in Buffalo ). The whole long flight and everything is a bit exhausting. We’re a mature team. We should be able to respond to whatever we have in front of us.”
Is this trip a good escape?
“Games are going to be played every Sunday, almost every week anyway. It really didn’t matter if we were playing in London or back in the states. We have to prepare to play a good football team. We have to be mentally ready to play a good football team.”
Why couldn’t the defense get pressure on the quarterback (Trent Edwards)?
“Well, I haven’t seen the tape from this game yet. I can’t answer the question yet on why weren’t able to get pressure on the quarterback. Maybe they just did a great job blocking. I have no idea until I see it. I feel like we’ve been doing a good job throughout the weeks. A lot of times we were half a step away from a sack. Sometimes we get the sack. Sometimes we get the quarterback hit. It’s not like the pass rushing has gone bad. It’s not one particular thing. It’s the back end holding up as well as the front end.”
What are you looking forward to the most to see while in London ?
“I would definitely say just playing the game. Playing in front of the London fans is going to be huge. You think of the soccer matches and how huge the soccer matches are, 80, 90 thousand fans screaming. We’re hoping to get that same impact that’s what I’m looking forward to the most.”
What are your thoughts on Wembley Stadium?
“I don’t know much about it. I haven’t done a lot of background on Wembley Stadium. I know how excited the guys out here get about soccer. English soccer is huge. We’re looking forward to that. We want to have all of the fans screaming and roaring and hopefully not fighting like we see on TV. We’re looking forward to this game.”
Do you have any plans to go into the City?
“Maybe I’ll do a little sight seeing tomorrow. Today I’m going to let my body catch up and get adjusted to the time change and the long flight. Rest my body a little bit.”
What are your thoughts on going against Drew (Brees)?
“I’m excited because I never got a chance to hit Drew. We played on the same college team and I always use to joke around by saying ‘I’m going to get a hit on you one day’. This is going to be the first time that I get an opportunity to get a chance to hit him. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance and if I do he’ll definitely know about it.”
What do you think about what’s he’s done in New Orleans ?
“I expected it. I’ve seen Drew since he was in college. I knew what type of player he was. Once I got to the pros and have the opportunity to be on the same team with him…he’s just a great quarterback. He’s going to continue to do that. I only expect good things and success out of Drew.”
Are you happy Drew’s had success?
“Definitely, like I said, I expected it. I see the type of work he puts in and the type of leadership, dedication that he has to the game of football. I expected it from him. It’s not a surprise to me at all.”
Is this your first trip to London ?
“No, I’ve gotten a few chances to be here before.”
Are you excited to see anything in particular?
“Probably, the Queen’s palace. I didn’t get a chance to see that. I was out here for Wimbledon and got to see a lot of great players play. That was the big thing I did the last time I came out here last summer.”
LT looks to be the man with Bush out
Running Back LaDainian Tomlinson
What do you think of the Pennyhill Hotel?
“I think it’s great. They really have set it up for us and obviously everything around here is put together well. The practice fields, weight room, locker room, the meals. Where we’re staying there’s a great spa right there where we can get treatment, so everything looked nice and we’re excited to be here.”
You came out this summer to promote this game. What’s been the difference from what you saw during your first trip?
“I stayed kind of more in London . This is kind of out a little bit. We’re kind of to ourselves right now and have a chance to bond as a team. I think that’s a bit different. I think once it gets closer to the game when we’re able to go back in town and see the atmosphere of the people of London, I think it will kind of be the same atmosphere I got when I was here earlier.”
What did you do during your summer trip?
“I just did media things and promoted the game, got the people excited about us coming over here and playing.”
What was the sense you got from people here about their interest in the game?
“I thought they were very excited about us being here. They were really interested in American football. I think that’s evident in how many tickets have been sold. I think they’re pretty excited. I’m pretty sure they want to see a good game. That would help.”
Were your teammates asking you what to expect once they arrived?
“There were a couple of guys asking what it was like. One of my guys said, ‘Are there any big guys in London like us or are we going to stand out?’ I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t see too many big guys so you might stand out a little bit.’ Of course he was a lineman, so.”
Is there an added importance for you to perform because you are serving as an ambassador for the NFL?
“I think it’s important to have a good showing and to really give the fans something to talk about, a reason to want the NFL to come back and have more games here. I think that’s important. Obviously we’re trying to get our game more exposure in the world wide sense. I think it is important for us to have a good showing.”
How do you feel about seeing Drew Brees on the other side?
“I’m excited. Obviously I’m not excited about competing against him because he’s a heck of a competitor and a (heck of a) quarterback. That’ll be kind of different but at the same time I think it’ll be fun being out there on the same field with him again but this time hoping that he throws some interceptions.”
When you guys were drafted on the same day, did you think you and Drew would spend your whole careers together?
“Of course you think that because that’s the time you’re dealing with now. You never think about someone leaving as a free agent or what have you. You just think it’s going to be forever.”
Are you happy to see the success he’s had?
“Absolutely. To me he never ceases to amaze me to be honest with you, all the passing yards he has and touchdowns. I see in the offseason how hard he works because we workout together. It doesn’t amaze me the success that he’s having now.”
What do you think of Wembley Stadium as a venue for an NFL game?
“I really like it. When I came here earlier I was just kind of taking in the atmosphere and obviously it was empty at that time, but just wondering what it would be like with people in the stands. I thought it was a great stadium, really built well and the grass seemed really good. From what I understand they’ve really been taking care of the grass and making sure that it’s up to somewhat better than last year. I’m excited. I really am. I’m excited to get there and see the atmosphere. I think it’s going to be great.”
What kind of atmosphere do you expect?
“I expect it to be loud and just everybody having a good time. The only thing for me, I’m not sure who they’re going to cheer for. It’s like, which team are they going to go for. I think that will be the interesting thing to see. I think they’re going to just want to see good football. They’ll cheer for both teams. Whoever scores they’ll cheer because really they just want to see a good game.”
Aren’t you used to a crowd that acts one way on offense and another when you’re on defense?
“I think that will be kind of different. When you’re playing at home, obviously on offense you get to have some peace and quiet. Then you hear it when our defense is out there. You kind of get used to that. Then on the road, it’s opposite. They’re loud when we’re out there. I think it will be a good mix of just having the atmosphere of just screaming and yelling the whole time. I think it will be fun.”
When you were here this summer, did you have some anonymity or were people still recognizing you and stopping you?
“Actually I was pretty good in terms of people noticing me. Obviously I had a few people, but I can walk down the street and I kind of forgot what that felt like. I was happy to do that, just walk down the street and nobody say anything to me. I kind of enjoyed that.”
Sunday’s game is a night game here. Do you enjoy playing at night more?
“It’s a great time for us. Again, it brings out that kid in you. In high school playing at night a lot and even in college. It just brings back that feeling that you had in high school or college playing under the lights. We always felt like that was special. Even in the National Football League, you really feel like playing in the atmosphere that’s under the lights and the crowd and two teams at night, it just really gets you going. If you can’t get ready for a night game then you don’t need to be playing football.”
Now that you’re here being 3-4, is this a good time in the season for the trip?
“I think it is. It is a good escape for us. Obviously losing yesterday, a lot of guys are really down about that loss. I think it really gives us time to take a deep breath, time to get away from the national media in the States and just have some time to ourselves and really just get close and bond a little bit. I honestly think that’s why the Giants were successful last year. They were kind of going through the same struggles. They came here and it kind of changed their season. We’re hoping for the same kind of luck. Hopefully London brings us that.”
You don’t think it was a coincidence that the Giants won the Super Bowl after coming to London ?
“No I don’t.”
Just 72 rushing yards against Buffalo . What’s your reaction to that?
“We’ve got to have more opportunities. I think that’s obvious. When you don’t get opportunities, I think we talked about this earlier, you don’t get in a rhythm of running the football. It becomes tough on you to try to do anything if you don’t get a chance to get in a rhythm. Obviously for me, 14 attempts, that’s not enough. At the same time, we only had 48 plays. We’ve got to have more plays and hopefully we start to get more plays.”
Quarterback Philip Rivers
“It’s awesome. It’s a beautiful place and very nice. Probably as nice as any place we’ve ever stayed in. We’re looking forward to having a good week. The set-up here, the weight room, the locker room, it’s very accommodating. Hopefully we can zero in and get ready for the game, and certainly also enjoy being here.”
On the practice field at PennyHill Park Hotel reminding you of a high school field:
“Yes, it does. It’s really nice. The weather, it’s cool. It will have a little bit of a high school or college-like feel…kind of a backyard feel to it in the whole set up. It’ll be fun. It will be less of distraction maybe than we anticipated, and more of a boost. Change it up a little bit. The transition has been about as smooth as it can be, getting over here today. Obviously a long night, but it’s been good. I already feel like we’re pretty much settled in.”
On playing with Drew Brees on the other sideline:
“It’ll be fun. We’re not playing one another (directly), but certainly having been on the same team and obviously he meant a great deal to the Chargers when he was here. I know he’ll be looking forward to the game. It’ll be fun. As far as the game is concerned, (you have) two teams that really need a win. It’ll be as much that has been made of the trip over here and the week’s festivities, and all that kind of stuff. When it comes down to the game, it’s a big one for both of us.”
On how giving of his time he’ll be for the NFL’s taste:
“Our game and the preparation comes first. It’s the only game, once a year and we’re that team, so certainly there are some things that come along with it; responsibilities. We’ll manage those. The biggest thing I am going to do individually is try to get in that same routine as we do back there (home). The surroundings will be different, where you watch the tape and stuff like that will be different but I’ll treat is just the same as I would any Monday and Tuesday and then go from there.”
On if coming to London makes it easier to put the Buffalo game behind you:
“You have to in this league, especially as we’ve seen this year. We’ve had to do this a couple times, put a tough loss behind us and move on, and get on to the next one. It’s allowed us to move on. You have so many different things you have to worry about and get adjusted to, you’ve already moved on to the next week. But certainly we’ll get in here and watch this tape (and) it’ll all come right back to us. It’ll settle in how we played and how we can correct it and get better. The taste of that loss isn’t gone by any means. It was a big game that we lost yesterday, and we know that, but we’re going to have to rebound. We’ve done a good job of rebounding every week. We just have to find a way to get over the hump of trading wins and losses, and hopefully make a little run here.”
On handling distractions while in London :
“It certainly can be. We’ll have to manage it. Those are things you don’t get an opportunity to do or see some things that are out here. I know for me, and I’ll bet a lot of the guys, we’ve never been out of the country. Those things are fine. Go have fun, and enjoy it. Soak some of those things in. As long as it doesn’t creep in or get in the way of what we’re trying to get done, which is win a game. You certainly can enjoy those things this afternoon and Tuesday when we’re off, and still get in the preparation we need to get in to go win the game on Sunday.”
On his first thought when he knew the Chargers were coming to London :
“You really tie the two together, Buffalo and then New Orleans , just because of the trip. You knew you weren’t coming home. It wasn’t a get-on-a-plane-to-San-Diego-and-go-London. I don’t know. It (Rivers’ feelings) was mixed. Certainly you realize what can come with it is a lot of…I don’t want to say a hassle because that’s not the (right) word. But it certainly can be strenuous on the schedule and the time and our bodies, but at the same time it’s exciting. It’s something new. There’s only one (international) game every year, and being that game against the Saints is a good match-up. Mostly positive (thoughts). The way the NFL structured it is outstanding with the bye week following it so we can recover from the trip next week. We have to zero in though and get to .500 at the halfway point, which is not where we wanted to be but it leaves us at a spot where we still have a chance.”
On what he anticipates from London natives when he and his teammates are out on the town:
“I think it’ll be a lot of fun. You kind of don’t know. You don’t know how much they pay attention or care. But certainly I imagine it’s a treat for them here too. Something different. From what I gather, I don’t know exactly the capacity of the stadium, but they say it’s just about full, and people are excited. It’ll be fun. Thus far the hospitality has been great. It seems like a very polite, nice town. The airport and how all that ran was so smooth. I know it’s tough when there are 100 or so people coming through there like that. To get us all in and out of there smoothly…it was a smooth process.”
On his relationship with Saints’ Quarterback Drew Brees when he was with the Chargers:
“It was good. It was really good. We had a handful of golf matches off the field, but as far as the quarterback room and how everything flowed, it was good. I tried o help as much as I could but stay out of the way at the same time. When a guy has his routine as a starter, you don’t want to bother him but certainly you want to help if you see something. I thought it worked really well. We pushed one another hard. We both handled it well. We both respected one another and knew we were both just here battling to be the guy. It’s worked out for both of us. I think a lot of Drew, and obviously what he’s done down there in New Orleans has been outstanding.”
On what Drew Brees taught him:
“Yeah. The one thing he did was the routine approach he took. After a big Monday Night win or Sunday Night win like we had in New England , he was doing the same thing on Monday or Tuesday. If we get beat, like we lost those first two tough ones, he was doing the same thing. That was key because you realize it’s a long year, you’re going to lose some games, you’re going to play not as good as you want to in some games, but you come back in there on Tuesday and you’re doing the same routine Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. That’s the only way to go when you’re talking about 20-plus weeks. That was the one thing, although it’s not the same routine, we all have our different ways of doing it, is find that routine and what works and stick with it all year long.”
On if he expects a high scoring game:
“You never know. I think you prepare every week for it to be a defensive battle and try to win 10-7, and certainly with these two offenses, it could. We have faith in our defense, so hopefully not. But we’re ready every week, offensively, to score as many points as we need to to win. We’ve done that so far three times and haven’t done it four times. So certainly this is a big game for us to go out there and play well.”
On the coincidence of the Giants winning the Super Bowl after playing in London last year:
“I don’t think you can put too much stock into that. We would love to have it happen again. Come here and win and hopefully win a bigger one later. No, I don’t think there is any (correlation). It’s fun. We’re excited to be here and play. The match-up is fun. It’s a team you don’t play very often. The preparation from that standpoint, you have to zero in on them. It’ll be a fun week and hopefully it ends on a high note on Sunday.”
On how frustrating it might be to have so much talent but the record not reflecting it:
“It’s hard to say it’s frustrating because we still feel the guys we have in there, even banged up, and the guys that are healthy, that we can go in there and score points, and go out there an win games. I think that’s the frustrating part. We walk off the field and go, ‘how is this happening?’ That’s every year. Every team deals with injuries and different things. We’re dealing with it off the bat. There are other teams that are too. Hopefully we can get it going and get healthy as this season goes along and be in a position to hopefully be playing in January.”
On the running game not being as good as expected:
“You keep working. I don’t know if there is one element of the running game to point to. You just keep working and keep grinding. Just keep going. I don’t think there is any magic answer I can give you, other than you just keep grinding it out. There will be a time when it will all click and go, and hopefully that’s going to be soon. We do a lot of good things. You watch the tape and there are so many good things on there. You look up and there’s 14 points. The turnovers hurt us yesterday. At the same time, it hurts you in the amount of plays. I think we had 49 plays. When you have 70 plays you think about how many different things you could have done. If you’re controlling the football and not turning it over. It all goes hand-in-hand. We just have to play better in all three phases.”