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Original Issue

NOSE TO NOSE WITH... KEITH TRAYLOR Patriots/Nosetackle HANK FRALEY Eagles Center


"ON SIGNING WITH NEW ENGLAND AS A FREE AGENT LAST SPRING I told my agent, 'I don't want to play nowhere cold unless it's a Super Bowl team.' And damn, the first day the Patriots called and had me in.

ON WHAT MAKES THE PATS DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHER FOUR TEAMS HE HAS PLAYED ON They bring in players who do what the coaches want them to do. You do it, or you're not here. Nobody fusses about their roles. Everybody's content doing what the team thinks give us the best chance to win.

ON HIS ROLLER-COASTER SEASON In September, I endured a tragedy. My younger brother, Mark Traylor, died. He had Behcet's disease, which is like Lou Gehrig's disease. It impacts your nervous system. The last time I saw him, in September, he could only communicate with me by moving his eyes. I missed a week of practice, and the early part of the season was rough. My mind just wasn't on football. I'll never get over my brother dying.

ON MORPHING FROM A 260-POUND LINEBACKER AS A ROOKIE IN 1991 TO A 340-POUND NOSETACKLE When I came in with Denver, I liked the good life. I kept gaining weight. When I was in Kansas City in '94, [coach] Marty Schottenheimer asked me to play D-line. They sent me to the World League [now NFL Europe] that off-season. I really didn't want to be there. But I look back on it, and it was good for me. I needed to learn the basics of line play, and I did.

ON BEING IN TWO SUPER BOWLS WITH DENVER My biggest memory is a fourth-and-one against Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXII. I met Dorsey Levens head-on and stopped him. No gain. Big momentum-changer. I'm a big guy, you know. I got a picture of that stop in my home."


"ON INTERIOR LINE PLAY It's a train wreck in there. If you're worried about a body part getting mangled, do not become a guard or center.

ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH DONOVAN MCNABB A center and quarterback have to be close. On Wednesday and Thursday nights we get together for 45 minutes, an hour, alone, to watch tape. We always eat a good meal while we're watching. Steaks, tacos, chicken. We call it 'dinner and a movie.' What we're looking for is tendencies. When do they blitz? Out of what formation? How do the safeties rotate? Stuff like that.

ON THE PATRIOTS They never beat themselves. They play very hard every snap. And they're incredibly physical: It doesn't matter who's in the way--lineman, receiver, running back--that defense hits 'em as hard as they can.

ON PHILLY CHEESESTEAKS I get the 'Whiz without.' That's a cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz and no onions. In Pittsburgh, where I went to college [Robert Morris], one famous sandwich was the Primanti Brothers' hot Italian. There's sausage, cole slaw, cheese, tomatoes and french fries, all in the sandwich. You don't want to eat those sober.

ON GOING AGAINST KEITH TRAYLOR Good player. Quick first step. Played him once. The thing I remember is when he wants to bring it, he's extremely hard to move. With him my goal is to get a stalemate.

ON SUPER SUNDAY It's a night game. I hate night games. Long, long day. I'll watch cartoons, or whatever, to pass the time.

ON THE PRESSURE OF 120 MILLION PEOPLE WATCHING I wasn't feeling any pressure--until you just said that. --As told to Peter King"



Photographs by Al Tielemans



"Man, I'm gettingspanked!" --Eugene Wilson, Patriots CB, page 36