Billy Joe Hobert the Pats' model for what not to do

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Troy Brown said a major reason why the New England Patriots are so successful is because nobody wants be like Billy Joe Hobert.

Buffalo Bills fans regrettably remember Hobert as the second-string quarterback who, after replacing injured starter Todd Collins in a 1997 loss to the Patriots, admitted he didn't bother to read the playbook that week.

"Everybody's got to be ready to go," Brown said. "You never know when your number's going to be called.

"You don't want to be one of those guys in the press conference, saying 'I didn't think I was going to play today,' like that Buffalo Bills [player]. You don't want to be that guy. You don't want to be the guy that's going to be looking at your teammates like 'Man, I wasn't ready to play.' Guys aren't ready to hear that in the locker room."

Brown, the former Patriots receiver and defensive back, spoke to reporters before Thursday night's game against the New York Jets. He will be honored on the Gillette Stadium field at halftime to salute his career.

The timing of Troy Brown Night is appropriate. Brown was an underdog, an eighth-round draft pick who did whatever was asked of him, even pinch-hitting as a defensive back during his 15-year career.

This year's Patriots are 6-3 and playing for sole possession of first place in the AFC East despite injuries to star quarterback Tom Brady, three top running backs, defensive captain Rodney Harrison and leading sackmaster Adalius Thomas.

Brown said he hasn't been surprised at all to see the Patriots cope. Not only has Brown seen it before, he's been a key replacement in similar situations.

"It's typical Patriots football to me," Brown said. "I'm used to seeing that. I'm used to being on the field, being one of those guys having to fill in and plug in.

"I watch them and think about being one of those guys that set the foundation for what this football team is about today -- guys like Tedy Bruschi that's been here, Mike Vrabel that's setting good examples for the players that's coming behind them on what it takes to be not just a New England Patriots football player, but what it takes to be a champion, what you have to do, the sacrifices you've got to make the knowledge you have to have about the game.

"I think a lot of guys fall in line when they see how we work around here, and not just on the football field but in the classroom, in the weight room. There's a lot that goes into building a champion and we got a lot of guys that know how to do it.

"They just keep finding guys to plug in, and tonight they got to find a guy to step in for Adalius. He's been having a great year, a tremendous year. It's going to be hard to replace that production. If they got to use two or three guys to get it done, then they'll find a way to get it done."

In other words, the Patriots don't have any Billy Joe Hoberts on their roster.