Transcript of Wednesday's media conference call with new Buffalo Bills tight end Charles Clay, provided by the Buffalo Bills.
Q: Could you break down what made the Bills the right choice for you?
A: When you look at the organization as a whole with the new owners, new coaching staff, a lot of the moves they made this offseason…I was kind of intrigued by it. Before I even took my visit, I could get the sense that they were a team that was on the rise. They were a team that was going to win right away and it was definitely something I was excited to just have the opportunity to be a part of. Just looking at it in that way, it was always a team that I always hated coming down and playing against; one because you have that fan base who love their team so much and it was always hard to hear and things like that and just to have that opportunity to be a part of that excitement…I’m happy to be a part of this organization.
Q: The process of being on a transition tag and signing an offer sheet and knowing that Miami had the right to match. Was that a weird thing to go through as a player because the possibility is that you may be with a new team and then you may not? Was that sort of a strange thing to work through for you?
A: It was strange simply because you take that visit and everything went so well from meeting coaches to meeting people around the facility. I was so excited to have that opportunity that I wanted to sign right away and then signing that offer sheet and then having to wait. Then it’s kind of like taking a step back and just having to wait on everything to play out, but at the end of the day it all worked out just how I wanted it and like I said, I couldn’t be happier.
Q: Can you just maybe elaborate a little bit more on how impressed you were or what your first impression was of the Bills with this full court press that they kind of put on you: flying coaches down to pick you up, owners flying back to Buffalo with you…just the whole scene and how much that impressed you?
A: It was huge. It goes to show how much they actually value me. From the time I stepped on the plane, I felt I was one of those guys from the very second I stepped on the plane and just getting the chance to meet and talk with the Pegula’s. They’re such down to earth people. They’re both people persons and just getting the chance to meet with them and to fly up with Rex (Ryan) and Greg Roman and Tony Sparano and just having the chance to talk with them, I was very impressed. They had me excited on the plane before I even got to Buffalo so I was about ready to sign before I even got there so I was very excited.
Q: Why did you want to sign before you even got to Buffalo?
A: For one, just knowing I’ve played against a Rex Ryan defense for the past four years so I know how tough it is to play against his defense. I know the kind of mentality that he brings to a team. Granted, Buffalo is a tough team to play against in the first place. I talked to a lot players who played under Rex and they all spoke very highly of him so just having that opportunity and then once they showed that they valued me just as much as I value a guy like Rex Ryan or Greg Roman…once they showed that, I was pretty much sold on it.
Q: How much are you looking forward to seeing what you can do in that Greg Roman offense and how much do you know about it?
A: I’m very excited. I watched him a lot when he was coaching up in San Francisco and what he was able to do with those, not only the tight ends, the offense in general and then I know how creative of a mind he has and just it’s so many different things that he can do with a lot of different weapons in this offense. I’m just excited to be a part of it and see what he comes up with.
Q: What do you think of the guys that are going to be throwing you the ball? If you could, just give us your thoughts on each quarterback.
A: I watched EJ over the past few years; young guy but you can see where he’s developed. Bringing in a guy like Matt Cassel who’s done it for a long time and has played at a high level and to have him, have his presence to come in and be able to coach him up and EJ can pick his brain and learn some things from him, I’m excited about it and to have the weapons around him, I feel like that’ll just make him a lot more comfortable. There’s definitely no doubt in my mind that either of those guys can come and lead this team back where they want to be which is in the playoffs and to compete for a Super Bowl.
Q: Charles: not that you didn’t deserve it but having been a sixth round pick coming out and not a guy that got a tremendous amount of attention to then get the kind of attention you got from the Bills as a free agent, how much was that an adjustment for you? All of sudden you were this in-demand person. Did it catch you off-guard at all?
A: I wouldn’t say it caught me off guard. For one, I guess the way I view myself as a player as being a guy who can do so many different things, I feel like it would be valued, I feel like I could benefit from playing or help any team so I wouldn’t just necessarily say I was surprised by it. Like I said, they showed interest from early on through the whole free agency process. They stuck with it, stuck with it so I was impressed by the whole situation so I’m just excited to call myself a Buffalo Bill.
Q: You mentioned the process of being on the transition tag. How much of a push did the Dolphins make to keep you and what made the process take as long as it did?
A: Early on, they pitched some, we tried doing some negotiations. At the same time, Buffalo was a team that stepped up and showed not only was I valued but that I was their number one priority and anytime you get put in that situation where you’re valued so high on a team that you feel like is going in the right direction, you want to be a part of that. As far as why the process took so long, I couldn’t even tell you. I’m just excited to pretty much be here, so yeah, that’s pretty much it.
Q: What kind of pressure do you expect now? Your contract aligns with some of the elite tight-ends in this league. Do you feel like there will be an added pressure to “live up to the contract”?
A: I don’t feel like anyone could put as much pressure on me that I put on myself. I’m going to go out and work hard every single day. What I won’t do is go out and start pressing. Trying to prove why I got the contract and things like that. Once you start doing that is when guys start to mess up. What I plan on doing: I’m going to go out and play as hard as I can which is what I always do. I don’t feel any added pressure. I already set high standards for myself. I’m going to work hard and do everything I can to help this team win no matter what that is. Whatever I have to do, that’s what I’m willing to do so I’ll just go from there.
Q: What’s your reaction when you hear Rex Ryan say he wants to run the ball fifty times a game as a pass catcher?
A: I’m all for it. Like I said: whatever he feels will win games, I’m all up for it. I don’t care if we throw the ball fifty times a game, if we run the ball fifty times a game. At the end of the day, I just want to win and that’s what it all boils down to in this league is wins and losses so if we were running the ball the fifty times a game and we were winning, I don’t think anyone would be complaining. So like I said, we’ll see when we get there and we start to install things and they kind of get a feel of some of the players they have and we get a feel for some of the play calls and coaches, we’ll just go from there. Identify our strengths and find our identity and stick with it.
Q: You’re a very versatile player. It strikes me that you might fill that Delanie Walker role in Greg Roman’s offense. Have they talked to you at all about what role you’re going to play? Are you going to be an every down tight-end?
A: From the things I’ve heard, yeah. They don’t want me coming off the field. They want to use me in a lot of different positions moving around a bit which is something I feel very comfortable doing. Dating back all the way to high school, playing running back and getting to college and playing so many different positions and then coming here to Miami and playing a lot. It’s something I feel very comfortable doing so whatever they ask me to do, I’m willing to do it, I’m going to work at it and try to master it. I’m excited. I can’t wait.
Q: You were a bit underrated as a pass catcher. How gratifying is it that people are finally starting to recognize that aspect of your game?
A: I don’t necessarily look for validation from other folks. At the end of the day, I know what I’m capable of so whether someone says how good of a pass catcher I am or someone to say I’m not one of the best pass catchers, at the end of the day, I know what my value is and I know what I’m capable of so I don’t too much look for any kind of validation from anything or anyone else.
Q: Do you prefer pass blocking to playing a receiver role or does it matter or what’s the key?
A: It doesn’t really matter to me. It’s something that I’ve been working on for the past few years is pass blocking and it’s something I’ll continue to work on. When it’s all said and done, I want people to look at me and say, “Ok. He’s one of the best pass catchers in the league. He’s also one of the best blockers.” I want to be an all-around player. I don’t want to be just labeled as a pass catching tight-end. That’s one thing that bothers me like crazy and then at the end of the day, I want to be that versatile guy. I want to be that guy that can be in on third and one and run block that can be in a third and long situation where I’ll have to pass block or be in on a third and short where I have to beat man-to-man coverage. I just want to be that guy who can do it all instead of just being labeled as that pass catching tight-end. It’s something that I’ve definitely work towards is being able to do multiple things.
Q: Is there a player that maybe you can compare your style of game to?
A: It’s a lot of guys that I take certain aspects of their game from. I don’t think it’s just one person that I can say…I look at, there’s a lot wide receivers around the league that I look at. There’s a lot of running backs. Tight ends: there’s a whole lot of tight-ends…Mark Bavaro…all those guys. He’s a guy that I always loved. His quiet demeanor…I guess you can take that aspect of it and that’s what I try to model myself after. I’m not one of those flashy guys that talks a lot. At the end of the day, I’m a football player and that’s what I commandeer and off the field, I’ll live my life, be with my family, things like that but I’m not one of those guys who’s just out there and want to be seen and stuff. He’s definitely a guy in that aspect I definitely look for but you know exactly what you’re going to get when you step between the white lines.
Q: Have you set any goals for this coming season? Some guys, you know, they like to set personal goals; a certain number of receptions or whatever. Do you do that? Have you set any goals like that?
A: All my goals are more pretty much team oriented. The longer I’m around and the more I talk to you, you’ll kind of get a feel that I’m not one to be into so into individual things. That I’m more of a team guy so like I said, whether I have to go into a game and catch fifteen ball or whether I have to go into a game and just catch one or maybe even not as long as we win, I’m completely fine, you won’t hear a sound. You won’t hear a peep from me. I’m just one of those team guys at the end of the day, I’m looking to go out there and play as hard as I can and give one hundred and ten percent and leave everything on the field and as long as I do that and we walk off with a win then I’m satisfied.
Q: I think that’s great. Did you have a favorite football player growing up?
A: I can’t think that there’s one player. I was always watching SportsCentury and things like that growing up so that’s how I kind of found out about Mark Bavaro and Jack Tatum and people liked that so I just like watching football in general. I didn’t necessarily have a favorite player but there was a lot of guys…a lot of guys that I actually liked watching. Not just one player in particular I think.