In a league of tall, strong, and capable individuals, offensive lineman Trent Brown stands out in the crowd.
At 6ft 8in and 380lbs, he is officially the tallest player in the NFL. With nimble feet and the ability to move tall people with ease, multiple teams will be lining up to secure his services when free agency opens on March 16.
After a campaign in which he posted career-best pass blocking grades (81.2) and overall grades (77.6) despite missing time due to a calf strain, Brown went into the offseason to get to the bottom of the calf issues plaguing him have plagued in recent seasons. The 28-year-old added more flexibility training to his routine along with prehabilitative methods and preventive training techniques to improve his mechanics. He also made the decision to adopt a pescetarian diet, eliminating alcohol and most importantly all carbohydrates. All of these important changes should help ensure he is in top physical condition to stay on the field in the future.
We caught up with Trent Brown ahead of free agency to discuss the changes he's made, his two New England stations, the private performance facility he's building in Atlanta, and his aspirations for free agency.
What things did you want to prioritize going into this off-season as a free agent?
In recent years I have struggled with calf strains. I stayed with the program the Patriots gave me, so I worked closely with Ms. Karen [Warren], who is my physical therapist in Atlanta. I'm just trying to correct some compensation patterns I've built up over the years. It's just meant to help you move properly. If my glutes aren't firing here, then that's not allowing me to get proper dorsiflexion and calf and leg extension, knee propulsion and all that stuff, which ends up putting all the stress on my calf and achilles, which is also bad. I'm just trying to make sure I'm moving properly now but still being effective in my movements.
I like to train like a skill player and not like a lineman. I incorporate some of my moves into what we're doing, but I don't like just training with brute force because I'd rather be fast and agile. If you look at [this year’s], these guys are moving, so I feel like I just need to get ahead of that curve. I'm not trying to stay in caveman football and we're moving to the Jetsons.
In the past, I've really just relied on athleticism and god-given ability and gotten by.
But how I've trained in the past just doesn't work anymore and it's time to do some things differently. I'm not saying the stuff didn't work to get in shape, but obviously I was training wrong. It's still about the same mindset and attitude, but with a different approach.
How are you training differently now?
I start every workout with quite a few toe raises and then Ms. Karen puts me on the redcord and it awakens my core. She puts me in many positions that help get deeper into the core of the muscle, it wakes that up and makes her fire. After that I go to training. Everything is firing and I'm training the right patterns as I train, so I'm not out there, just doing a basic warm-up and going straight into training. I make specific moves and basically rebuild everything I've learned over the years. I train running mechanics and everything is different. I will be a sprinter. I'll be at the next Olympic Games.
Training is one thing, but it's important to eliminate things from your diet that have been constants. Why did you make the decision to eliminate pork and beef?
Over time, you get to know how your body feels when you eat certain foods. When I ate pork and beef, my body would feel heavy and bloated for days. When I eat seafood, I feel light and don't feel stuffed and miserable when I get up from the table. As for the bread, yeast contributes to this bloating. I was just trying to stay on the lighter side of things, eating lots of seafood and nothing but veggies.
With the nagging injuries you've had over the last few years, how did you find a way to remain connected to the team but also not try to rush back due to the internal and external pressures of being on the field?
I live by this quote, and I've said it before in interviews: "I don't live off their compliments, so I won't die from their criticism." You feel alienated when you're a central part of the team and you're hurt . You have fans on social media and you don't even want to appear there when you're hurt. You don't want to show your face in public. Every interview you do, they ask you when you're coming back. Even when you're in the team facility, you feel like all eyes are on you.
People who would normally walk up to you in the morning and talk with a great attitude are now giving you a sideways glance and saying, "Damn, when the hell are you going back on the court?" That's how you feel. I have to stick to a schedule given to me by the professionals in the classroom and the people I trust outside of it. In such moments you have to dig deeper and believe in yourself even more than on the top of the mountain. That's not to say you're not still at the top of the mountain, but you do feel like a shell of yourself and it's like an out-of-body experience when you're hurt. Damn, this is life without football, huh? I've always been a self starter and I take little things like that and it motivates me to go harder.
What are some things you took away from your two trips to New England?
My first stint was incredible. You get to play with Tom Brady - that was motivation in itself. He makes you believe in himself on another level because of the things he has achieved, the skills, the mentality and mindset he goes about every day and just the way he treats people. I had coach Dante Scarnecchia and what a great guy. He's this little old man on the outside, but he still talks shit to the best of them and he'll tell you straight. That's something I really respect most about this organization. It's just a whole series of straight shooters. They have their expectations and either you meet them or you won't be there and it's as simple as that. I think in a lot of places, not just in sport, personal feelings influence day to day decisions when it shouldn't. It should just be about business and what's best for business.
In my second stint, I was one of the big guys on the block. Even though I was only there a year for the first stint, it still felt like I had to be one of those guys who uphold that standard and the Patriot way of showing the younger guys what it takes to win . I think we did damn well having a rookie quarterback. We made the playoffs. Yes, we got our ass kicked, but we also went into the first round of the playoffs with a patched-up secondary, and nobody's ever going to talk about that. We had a lot of injuries and there are no excuses because you still have to go out and play the ball. Even if the result didn't reflect it, we had a couple of chances to win that ball game in the second half. It just got out of hand. I wouldn't trade it for anything because I'm still playing my seventh year in the NFL and my seventh year of living my dream.
Off the field, they are working to open a private performance venue in Atlanta. Why did you want to do this?
That was pretty much a no-brainer just because you don't have a training facility in the heart of Atlanta that really offers everything. You then have the content aspect and we all know that content is king and social media rules the world. That alone will attract many people, not just athletes. There will be rappers, artists and people from all walks of life who want to come in. I envision it becoming not just a training facility but a sports club where it turns into something like a Soho House. People of all stripes can come here, train and feel good. You have access to chefs. You have your pictures so people know what you are doing and what we are doing here. We will have PTs and massage therapists. I just wanted this to be a one stop shop because many establishments in Atlanta don't offer that one place where you can get everything you need and it's tailored specifically for you.
With free agency approaching, what are you looking for in your next situation?
I'm in my eighth year and have moved a lot. My longest time with a team was three years. What I'm looking for is a team where I can build a legacy and play another seven to eight years. Winning is first and foremost and going to a winning program. Building a legacy because that will help build my brand for things after football. I don't really care about any of those deals where I'll be there one year, maybe the next and I'm in the same predicament. I'm looking for a place to call home, where my kids can go to school and we can put down roots to get out into the community and do other things.
All these moves every year make these tendencies difficult. Yes, you can still pick up the phone and call people, but it's not like you can call those people and shake their hands, look them in the eye to get things done. So first and foremost I want to win. Second, build a legacy. Third, put down roots and end my career with an organization.
You can follow Trent Brown on Twitter @Trent