ATLANTA — Rams safety John Johnson III wants a piece of Tom Brady.
“It’s an honor, honestly, he’s the all-time great; he’s beatable, though,’’ Johnson told the Los Angeles Times early in the week. “You just can’t go in there with the mindset of, ‘Oh, it’s Tom Brady.’ He’s definitely beatable, so we’re going to go in there and give it a go.”
Those comments led to some people thinking he was taking a shot at Brady, which Johnson later clarified.
“If that’s bulletin board material, if you need bulletin board material for this game, go ahead,’’ Johnson said. “It’s kind of comical. All I said was, he’s an all-time great, the greatest to ever do it, that’s all I said. I meant it in a way that he’s not undefeated this year. He has losses in the Super Bowl, that’s all I meant about it. I’m just being realistic, stating a fact.”
Johnson said he was a Cowboys fan growing up, and despite his four years at Boston College (during which New England won two Super Bowls) he never became a fan of Brady and the Patriots.
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“He’s the GOAT,” Johnson said. “Everyone loves him. All my friends, every time a Patriots game came on, they’re like, ‘Patriots by 100.’ That’s the type of faith and confidence they have in him, so I’m just glad I’m on the other side now and get a chance to compete with them.”
Home away from home this week
Some of the Super Bowl players have had unique experiences this week based on where their teams have been practicing.
Patriots guard Shaq Mason embraced the week practicing at his former college, Georgia Tech, saying, “Getting to the Super Bowl in general is a blessing. The fact that being at Tech I got to see a lot of the old teammates and friends it means a lot.”
Mason, who was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round in 2015, said, “The locker room is crazy. That was my first time walking in there and being in there and seeing it in person. I was taken back by that.”
The Rams used the Falcons training facility in nearby Flowery Branch and were pleasantly surprised by their hospitality.
The Falcons refurbished the locker room and put four carpets with Rams logos on them over the part where the Falcons logo is located in the middle of the locker room. Also, the back of the locker room heading into the meeting rooms was painted with a blue background and a Rams helmet. Pictures of the Rams were placed throughout the building.
“It’s a great facility,” Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald said. “Everything is set up perfect. We feel like we are at home.’’
Donald has another fan
Count Patriots offensive-line coach Dante Scarnecchia as one of the biggest fans of Donald.
“He is a generational talent,’’ Scarnecchia said. “He’s a guy that can play in any era in the history of this league and he a very good player. He’s a dynamic player. It’s self-evident. Anybody at that position who signed that contract [six years, $135 million] and rewards that organization with 20 ½ sacks, I think that’s hard to do. To do what he did this year is phenomenal. We haven’t probably seen him at his best yet. I mean this guy is really good.
“Amazing skill set. Great balance. He’s got that built-in leverage because he’s short, so he’s tough to knock off his feet. He’s never blocked. You think you got him, you think you got him and all of a sudden he’s off and he’s a problem.’’