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Rookie Diaries: When idols become rivals

In this week's *Rookie Diaries, Justin Simmons and Will Parks ponder what it will be like to play against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who entered the NFL in 2000. At the time, Simmons and Parks had just begun elementary school. They also reacted to Patriots HC Bill Belichick's press conference with the Denver media in which he singled the two out by name and said they've provided "good depth" in the secondary.*

Will Parks: I was a kid watching Brady while I was growing up. He was one of my favorite quarterbacks. We're playing him, so he can't be my favorite quarterback any more. 

Justin Simmons: That is wild. I would be more in shock about the age difference if Coach Samson [Brown] didn't tell us that when we first walked in today. Not meaning anything by it, but it's just funny how the league works. How long people stay. When you grow up, you don't think you're going to play against or with certain people. And then, there they are.


WP:** I watched Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne. Marvin is from my city, Philadelphia, and he just got inducted into the Hall of Fame, so I always watched Marv. Duce Staley, Brian Dawkins — one of my favorite safeties — Ed Reed, Brian Westbrook. When I was playing running back, I wanted to be like Westbrook. When I was playing safety I wanted to be like B-Dawk. Playing receiver, I wanted to be like Marv. When I played quarterback for the 90-pound football team, I wanted to be like Tom.

JS: My dad was a big Cowboys fan, so growing up, I wasn't necessarily around to watch everyone play, but I remember the Emmitt Smiths and Michael Irvins. But when I grew up, who I watched is Brian Dawkins. I didn't even know I was going to be playing in the secondary. I was just loved watching him play, Troy Polamalu play. Just kind of those rangy, roving safeties who kind of made you fear throwing the ball over the middle of the field. 

WP: I didn't think I'd be in a position to play against him at all. It's surreal. Knowing that it's about to happen is definitely a dream come true to play against somebody that you watched day-in and day-out. Everyone will tell you who my favorite quarterback was, and that was Tom. But your idols become your rivals, and right now I've got to focus on picking him up, reading some of his keys and how he plays the game and how he throws the football so that I can become successful back there. Preparing for this is surreal, just as much as being in the game and actually playing. 


JS:** He's one of the greats. No one can deny him that. He's done great things with New England.

WP:   Obviously I'm on the opposing side, and this is a vital game, but at the same time, if you're in my position that's what you look forward to. You look forward toward playing against guys like that. Again, you want your idols to become your rivals. And that's what's about to happen.

JS:  It's just a matter of really locking in mentally this week and handling all the different formations and tendencies that they have and doing what we do and making sure we just execute at a high level.

WP: This is going to be a test for us, but I can tell you one thing: We're going to prepare as much as we did all season, because this is a good team and this is a must-win for us.

I appreciate Belichick's words about me and Justin. Coming from him, one of the best coaches to ever coach in sports. Period. Much respect to Bill Belichick and the whole organization. They're a class organization, but at the

same time it's football and we're going to have to get the win. And that doesn't do anything but motivate me to go out there and do much more. I use all those things, good and bad, to motivate myself to be the most successful player I can.

JS: That's pretty neat. Coach Belichick's well-respected around the league and obviously knows what he's doing, building such a successful program in New England. That kind of recognition from him is really neat and also something that makes you want to strive to be better. Obviously a lot of people pat you on the back just because you're in the NFL and you're doing what you're doing, but there's always room for improvement. Sitting here at the end of the season with this push the last three games that are must-wins for us, it's great to hear. In the same breath, it's great because it's also a little bit more motivation. Let's find a way to push through and make an impact.

WP: Yeah, that doesn't do anything but motivate me to go out there and do much more. I use all those things, good and bad, to motivate myself to be the most successful player I can.

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