If you haven't read Dave Boling's Thursday column you might want to check it out. Boling talked to Falcons linebacker Keith Brookings on the Wednesday press conference and Brookings had lots of interesting things to say about former coach Bobby Petrino and Petrino's early exit this season. Here are the transcripts in case you're curious:
On this season: "I don't know if I can really put it into words. Tough season is probably an understatement. But it's been quite a season, there's no doubt about it. As the season progressed, it seemed like every few weeks we were getting bad news. About the eighth or ninth week of the season I was thinking it just absolutely can not get any worse but then obviously with what happened a couple weeks ago it did. That proved me wrong. It's been tough, there's no doubt about it."
On how he feels about Bobby Petrino: "For me, speaking from a personal standpoint, I was one of the guys that guys on this team joke with me all the time. They say, kind of jokingly laughing, that I'm a company guy. That's not the case at all but I feel like my responsibility at a professional level and what I'm paid to do is to buy in to what my head coach wants to do. That doesn't mean I agreed with everything that he did or he wanted us to do and I talked to Coach (Bobby Petrino) about some of those things and he did a pretty good job of trying to change a few things. He kind of catered to us. That's part of my role as a leader on this football team and I felt like the quicker that everyone bought in to him, if you have everybody pulling on the same end of the rope the more chances you have at being successful at winning ball games. I know football enough to know that. You have to have everyone buy in. You can't have a few guys not believing in it. My goal, my responsibility was to try my best to try to get everybody to do that and that's what I did. I believed in him.
I didn't agree with some of it and I talked to him about that but as a leader I had to go out here and work everyday and show everyone, hey, if we do it this way we're going to get this thing right. Then we have that mentality and to do everything in my power to do that as a player, as a leader of this football team and then to have him back out on me like that and quit and go against everything that he talked about, shoot man, it floored me. It hurt me bad. Betrayal came to my mind; coward, quitter, so many things. It was tough. I've never had that happen. I can't explain it. I can not put it into words what would make him do something like that. In saying that, it's probably not right for me to say that because as a man I shouldn't judge anyone. I don't know what was going on with him and his family. Who knows? I don't know but at the same time I still think about all that and I try to create scenarios and I still can't believe that he would do something like that with three weeks to go. If you do do it come in and look us in the eye and tell us. There's so many things that run through my mind. It absolutely shocked me. I was pissed off."
On Petrino leaving without talking to the team: "Oh, yes man. Now as far as what went on with Arthur, Mr. Blank, and Rich McKay and those guys, we kind of heard things; that they had meetings, that Mr. Petrino didn't like the way some of the things were being done here. From what I've heard Arthur agreed to do everything in his power to get him to where it wanted to be. We, as players, you heard rumors. We'd always hear stuff like that. Man, as a player I'm trained. You hear stuff all the time in the media and people talk. You don't worry about that. Shoot, we have enough to worry about so it's not even like I thought twice about him leaving. I'll be honest with you. I thought at the end of the year it's possible. Coach (Bobby) Petrino with his past and everything, he might jet on us. Not with three games to go. I didn't ever hear anything to make me believe he was going to leave with three games to go in the season."
On if this has been a test of character: "I don't think tough times build character. I think they reveal it. You're in high school or whatever, you're trying to become a man. I think tough times can build character and make you a man and tough and fight through adversity and things like that but we're at the point we're at. I don't know. I believe you really find out what you're about when you've been in this league and you've made it to this point and I think we've seen a lot this year with the things that we've been faced with. My only approach is to just grind it out and know tough times don't last, tough people do. That old cliché, man, I believe that with all my heart and you get what you earn. No matter what situation you're in, winning or losing, you still have to go out there and lay it out on the line because we're playing for a lot. Guys are motivated for different reasons in our locker room and throughout the NFL. Some guys are motivated by money. Some are motivated by family. Some are motivated by pride. You should be motivated because your resume is put out there every Sunday. We're playing for a lot still, to this day. I don't care what anybody says. You definitely find out what guys are about when you're faced with the season we've been faced with."
On if he saw Petrino do a 'pig-suey' on television: "Yeah, I saw that. To be dead honest with you I heard the information like everyone else, through the news flash. I was sitting on my couch in the living room with my son and it came across the TV. My initial thought was, hey. I was frustrated. I was mad but I was like, if you don't want to be here, screw him. I don't want him here if his heart's not in it. When I saw him on TV later that night in the press conference after the day before we were out there sacrificing everything, our bodies for him and trying to lay it on the line for the Atlanta Falcons and him as our head coach and 24 hours later he was talking about how excited he was being there. It made my skin crawl. I wanted to jump through the TV. I was very mad."
On if he is past Michael Vick's situation: "It's very disappointing what happened with him. To have your franchise quarterback, arguable probably the best guy who's ever played for this organization and meant more to this organization than anyone who's ever put on a Falcons uniform, that happening to you, to him and to us, that was a shock. I couldn't believe it either. We've always had the mentality, from the very beginning here, since the season started, we were dealt that, 'hey, in this league you have to have a move-on mentality.' No matter what you're faced with. We pull through these gates every morning, we get paid to be at our very best, regardless of what happened. So that was tough. It was unbelievable. It has been an unprecedented year, that's for sure. I don't think anyone has gone through what we have gone through this year."
On former teammate Patrick Kerney: "That guy, when you draw up an NFL football player, Patrick Kerney exemplifies that to a "t". He is a true pro in every sense of the word. The workout regimen in the offseason, his habits of taking notes, on the practice field, taking care of his body, putting the right things in his body. He does everything in his power to maximize the ability that has been given to him. He is an asset to an organization, not just his ability to get after the passer, play the run, but his leadership abilities. Just him, the example that he gives to everybody in the organization. You couldn't have a better football player. And he's a great guy too. I knew when we got rid of him last year that we're going to be missing a great football player and a great person. I can't say enough about him. There is no doubt about it, that arguably, you could definitely argue this fact, that he is the best all-around defensive end in the NFL.