Q: How do you get yourself and the team ready to deal with this distraction before training camp starts?
VW: Control what we can control. First and foremost, it’s a sad situation for the victim’s family. You’re not dealing with just football right now. You’re dealing with a human being; you’re dealing with life. It’s sad and disappointing, but at the same time you get a chance to come into something we love to do and play football. One thing we’re going to have to do is try to keep everything separate. When you step on the field and control what you can control and that’s playing football, getting better each day. That’s my main focus is to try to do that. It’s started and it’s here.
Q: Do you pause and say, ‘This is real life. This is really happening’ about the situation?
VW: It’s real life. I think sometimes we get caught up in doing what we do, whether it’s your profession or playing football or whatever it may be, but like I said, this is a real life situation. You’re dealing with someone lost a loved one, someone lost a friend, a son. It’s tough, very disappointing and sad to see anybody lose any type of [family] member. It’s just a tough situation.
Q: Do you feel like this situation is bringing you closer together?
VW: To put everything in perspective, you have to enjoy every moment that you have in life and football is an outlet for us. When we come here, we expect to play football. We get away from everything and it’s started. Training camp is here and to come in on a note like this is tough. But at the same time, we have to continue to do our job. We’re not going to disrespect anything that’s going on with the families, but we do have to play football and our job is to play football and we’ll try to do that the best way we can and try to keep the ball rolling the best way we can. It’s starting with coming into training camp and starting a good season. We’re going to do everything in our willpower to ignore the noise and stay focused on the task at hand.
Q: What kind of impact can you have as captains through a difficult period like this?
VW: Just stick together. When we walk through this door we have a sign that says, ‘Put the team first and do your job,’ you have to read it every time you come in and I’m pretty sure I will, even though it’s been there for a long time and I do every year. I think we’re all going to do it because that’s what we’re going to have to do. There’s going to be a lot of things said and done throughout the course of this year, but we’re going to have to be able to move forward. We’re going to have to be able to come in and ignore the noise and just work as hard as we can to win ball games. It’s going to be tough but at the same time it has to be done. That’s how it goes.
Q: How was it for you this summer for you to watch this situation all unfold on TV?
VW: Disappointing. It was disappointment. Sad. There’s really not much else to say. It’s just sad and disappointing is the biggest thing.
Q: What was your immediate reaction when this was happening?
VW: I can’t really comment on ongoing investigations. I can’t comment on that.
Q: What do you tell your children at home? They must know who Aaron is.
VW: Like I said, I know there’s a big interest in the story, but I just can’t comment on ongoing investigations. I’m going to try to keep it at that. My job is to be a football player. This is what I do. This is what I love to do. I’ll take it day-by-day and it may be tough at times but at the end of the day, that’s my job. The ball’s going to continue to roll.
Q: I know you’re eager to move on. Was there any team discussion this morning or do you plan to have one so you can digest everything together?
VW: Everything we talk about is confidential, as a team. Sorry.
Q: How do you ignore the noise?
VW: Do you job. Put the team first. It’s going to be tested, it’s definitely going to be tested because like I said, this is real life. You’re dealing with a real-life situation, so it’s easy to get caught up in the media or speculations. We’re not here for that. Like I said, I feel bad for the victim’s family, but we have to move forward as a football team. That’s sad to say, but that’s reality.
Q: Is it hard to be guarded because you guys are here to answer questions about the Aaron Hernandez situation? You are open about most things. Is it hard to be guarded in this situation?
VW: Yeah, you have to let them do their job. Our job is football and football only. We’ll let those guys, the law enforcement, handle their investigation out of respect. That’s the bottom line.
Q: How different does this season feel coming into camp and how do you regain the normalcy of the situation?
VW: Just try to move forward the best way you can. I think it’s going to test this team’s chemistry. It’s going to test everyone that’s in this locker room, individually and as a team. It’s going to test to see how important football is to us. As a family, you just have to take it day-by-day, move forward day-by-day. At the end of the day, the ball is going to continue to roll and the last thing we want to do is be stuck behind the ball. We have to try to stay above it.
Q: Do you feel added pressure as a captain this year?
VW: I don’t know. I don’t know about that. I think our job is to do whatever we can to win ball games. Better ourselves and the guys around us, so that’s our job and every day we come here, that’s one of the goals. Always when we reach that field, it’s to put one foot in front of the other and do what you can do to be better each day, put the team first and get better.
Q: Given the losses on offense, is there any added pressure on the defense this year?
VW: Only time will tell, only time will tell. As a team, if we approach it together and if we come on this field and practice and get better each day as a team, then we’ll be OK
Q: What was your reaction to the way Bill Belichick handled his remarks and in what way did he set the tone for camp going forward?
VW: I think he handled it very, very well. Like I said, it was just sad, sad. It’s a sad day. It’s disappointing. I think he put it the best way. I think Robert Kraft and Bill handled it pretty perfectly.
Q: Did he show a side that most people don’t get to see very often?
VW: You know what, he gets a lot of grief about who he is as a coach, but at the end of the day, we’re all human beings and a lot of people are seeing that because it’s beyond football. It’s not just football; this is real life. This is a human being. This is life and I think a lot of people are seeing that form the way our organization handled it, from Bill and Robert. And I hope people respect that from them.
Q: Have you ever been more eager to start training camp than you are right now?
VW: That’s funny because every year you get away from football for so long and you do get eager to put on football pads and a helmet. This year it’s like it can’t come any sooner. You have to let everything take its course, control what we can control and that’s playing football, getting better as a team. We started today and hopefully get better from here on out.
Q: Did you do anything special to get away from it all before camp and get away from the situation?
VW: I was just with my family, continuing to train and kiss my babies every night. Tell them that I love them and you move forward.
Q: The fan reaction from this case is that they can’t believe a guy with the world in his hands threw it away. How do you respond to fans when they think like that?
VW: I don’t know. That’s – I don’t know. This is real life. This is beyond football and everybody’s going to take it a certain way. I can’t speak for everyone. I can only speak for myself and the best thing for me is to, you know what, try to get away as far as possible and just concentrate on what I can control, love my family and enjoy playing football. That’s what I’ll do.
Q: Considering the uncertainly on offense, do you guys playing a major role earlier in the season?
VW: Everybody is going to have to step up, not just offense. Every individual is going to have to raise his level of play and that’s what this team is all about. We’re going to be tested, but anybody can do a job when it’s easy. When it’s times like this and times where you’re tested, how do you come out of it? How can you mentally get through it, physically get through it when you’re back’s against the wall? That’s why you have teammates. That’s why you have hour family that’s why you have the organization. You can fall back on one another and that’s what we’re going to have to do. We’re going to have to lean on one another. We’re going to have to get through it as a team, get through it as an organization and try to continue to just do what we’ve been doing: win ball games and put the team in the best situation to win ball games, staring on the practice field. It all starts on the practice field. So whatever added extra work we’re going to have to do, we’re going to have to do it.
Q: As a player whose jersey is popular among fans, what does it mean to you when you see fans lining up to turn in a guy’s jersey?
VW: I don’t have any comment on that, I’m sorry.
Q: There’s been a lot of turnover at your position. How are the young guys doing?
VW: We’ll find out sooner rather than later, I’ll tell you that. Tomorrow we get after it and I’m very excited. I’m very excited every year. I’m excited and this is another year that I’m excited to get back going with the new teammates I have, old teammates we have, the things that we do, just to see us together as a team and lineup and go through plays. It’s not going to be all pretty and it’s not going to be all perfect, but just to have an opportunity to do it, it’s a great feeling. I’m very excited about the season.
Q: Are you excited about the prospects of your defense?
VW: I’m very excited about everybody. I think everybody that we have here, they can help us win, but we have to do the work. We just can’t come out here and expect to get better by not doing anything. We have to come out here and work our tails off, and every year we seem to do it. It won’t be any different this year. We’re just going to probably have to work a little harder and lean on one another more, support one another more.
Q: At what point does it become really difficult to separate yourself from Aaron Hernandez and just put him behind you?
VW: My job is to play football, plain and simple. I get paid to play football for the New England Patriots, so until that changes, that’s my first priority, behind my family.
Q: Do you think that job might get sidetracked if you get called by a grand jury? Have you been contacted about that or have you discussed that with a lawyer?
VW: It is what it is. What can I do? The only thing I can do is control what I can control and that’s playing football. Whatever happens in the future happens. We’ll handle it then, but as far as no, everything is out of my control. The only thing I control is coming to practice and getting better.
Q: Have you talked to guys at all as a team captain to give them support if anyone is called by a grand jury?
VW: Anything we talk about as a team is confidential.
Q: Do you feel like you have to reestablish the reputation that you guys have built up for the Patriot Way and the way you are viewed in the community?
VW: One thing I know about this organization is that we have a lot of players, hundreds of players, come through this organization and haven’t had too many problems. In the community, this organization is big in the community. We’re going to continue to do what we know how to do. As far as doing things any differently, that’s a question for the organization not me.