After a little game of “softball” early in his 14-minute talk with the media, Tom Brady got down to the business of his contract, his contentment with the Patriots organization, his place in the NFLPA and the status of some his teammates as well.
We’ll get more into this later (and more than once, I’m sure), but for now, I thought we’d go ahead and post the entire thing (Thanks to Tom E. Curran, Chris Price and Jeff Howe for much of the transcription). So here it is …
Do you feel like you’re almost 33?
I’m feeling pretty good. I’m feeling pretty good. I try to, like all of us older guys, find a way that works for them to be ready ad to feel energized every day. We were talking about Junior Seau yesterday and how unique it is for a guy like that. But moreso, in the way you train or physically, it’s your attitude as well. Guys who stick around, our attitude is always petty good, like Kevin Faulk and Torry (Holt) and Randy (Moss) … that’s what it’s about. Showing good leadership, and coming out here and having fun.
What’s different about this camp?
It’s hard to tell, you know? We’ve just gotten into it. The attitude of the team has been really good. People have come out and worked hard. Coach Belichick always stresses, come out and do your best. Obviously, there’s a lot to learn from. We’re a long ways from our goal. But we’ve come out and we have to put a bunch of good practices together. That’s what it’s about. It’s about putting the work in. There’s no easy way about it. Camp is a grind, and like I said, we have to come out every day with a purpose and a sense of improvement and get it done.
Do you like Bill taking down all the old pictures?
Yeah, I think that’s a good point by him. I think a lot of people want to sit back and reflect and … it’s important. You always learn from the past. You learn from things you’ve done — things that have worked, things that haven’t worked. But you also understand that any of the things that have happened in the past are certainly not going to help this year. And that goes certainly not only for this team but every team in the league. Every team starts fresh. There’s no … as much as you’d love for them to be carryover every year, every year is a completely different new year, with new challenges. And we have plenty of them.
There’s been a lot of talk about your contract, can you give us an update, since there’s been so much conversation?
Coach doesn’t like us talking about it a whole lot, so I’ll kind of stick to that. As I said before … I’m in the position that a lot of guys are around the league and on this team. While I’m under contract, it’s my responsibility to come out and play as hard as I can. I’ve always felt that’s what I love to do anyway. I love to come out here and compete. I have a job. I think that’s important to realize too. It’s an interesting time in the world, and I’m glad I get to come out here and do something I love.
You said before, we all get paid …
I think everyone … spoiled athletes and guys who are bitching about making millions of dollars. Everyone works hard to make a living for themselves, and I certainly don’t think we have much to complain about. We come out, we love what we do — most of us. So I just enjoy coming out and playing, and that’s where I get a lot of enjoyment in my life, and I want to do it for a long time.
How do you keep it from being a distraction?
I like to think I have a little more mental toughness than anything becoming a distraction that would affect the way that I play. Nothing outside, when I walk off this field, ends up being a distraction in my life. We all deal with stuff. All of us deal with different stuff in our life. Some’s more challenging than others, but as a leader on this team … I’ve been a captain on this team for a long time, and we put the things that are off the field behind you, and come out here with a good attitude and good leadership.
Where do things stand between you and the organization?
I’ve always been privileged to play for coach Belichick, who, I’ve always said, is the best coach in the history of the league. And Mr. Kraft, I have a great relationship with him. I’m not into playing games. I just want to come out here and be the best I can be. Whether you make a dollar playing or make millions of dollars like we do make, I really enjoy playing quarterback for this team. I have since the day I stepped on the field. It’s something I relish. And every year is an opportunity. You don’t get these opportunities back, and I want to play for another 10 years, hopefully, and each year is an opportunity for us to accomplish something petty special, and I don’t want anything to get in the way of that.
There’s been a lot of speculation on ‘Is he happy? Isn’t he happy?’ How would you describe your mood as it relates to the business side of things?
My personal feelings are my personal feelings. Certainly, I don’t want to express them with anyone other than a very few people, because it doesn’t do any good. It really doesn’t. It doesn’t help this team, it doesn’t help the organization. It just gets in the way … and everybody’s situation is different. I can only comment on my situation. Everybody’s got a different situation, a different approach, and they have to do what works for them. I know there are a lot of guys who are restricted free agents based on the CBA this year that, you know, shows that it’s just very different for different guys. I have to do what’s comfortable for me, and I’ve always tried to do that.
Do you want to finish your career as a New England Patriot?
Certainly that’s everybody goal. Troy Brown’s goal and Tedy Bruschi’s goal. A lot of people have that. But at the same time I know (only) that I’m playing this year. Hopefully. We still have five weeks to go before final cuts. It’s my responsibility to come out and earn a job, do the best I can do. That’s where my focus is.
With your place in the union do you feel like you have a responsibility on the business side to other players, because of everything that’s going on with the CBA?
Certainly. Certainly. When you get elec
ted as an (NFLPA) representative, you do have a different responsibility to convey messages to players who don’t get the information that we get, to pass that information along to younger guys who haven’t been around as long, to guys who haven’t paid as much attention as in the past to what’s going in. It is our responsibility to make sure everyone’s aware of what’s going on at this time.
Your contract, and Peyton Manning’s contract, and Drew Brees’ contract are seen as bellwethers for the CBA talks. Is that at all uncomfortable?
Who knows? I don’ t know what plays into whether guys are signing contracts or not signing contracts so far. It feels like a normal football season. March 1 of next year may be different, but this year feels like business as usual other than a lot of posturing by a lot of different people.
A lot of guys come and go under different circumstances, what it’s like for you to be in that position you’ve seen others in?
You see a lot of guys come and go. And the reality is, that’s this business. We don’t play forever. We don’t sign contracts for 30 years. This sport is based on a revolving system of players that are in and out, and free agency is something that the union fought hard for over the years. Players have the opportunity to move teams. Teams have the opportunity to cut players. It’s just what happens. Early on, it used to really to bother me. It still bothers you to a degree but you understand that’s really what this profession is all about. It’s a great game. Obviously, we’re doing something right. I love playing. Also, reallzing what happened a few years ago with getting injured, to be on the field this year is really what’s important for me. You can say, ‘I want to do this and this and this.’ But at the same time you’re not guaranteed anything. You’re guaranteed that I’ll start the season. You’re guaranteed that I’ll make it through the next day at practice. When you look out and see the physical nature that this sport is, nobody’s guaranteed anything. Enjoy what we have, you know? Enjoy the practices, the games, that’s a message I’ve always tried to convey, because we’re certainly not guaranteed anything.
Last year, were you restricted physically? And in the final analysis, how optimistic are you about what you’ll be able to accomplish this year?
Last year was a disappointing end for all of us. We put a lot into playing at home and playing well at home and being a team that didn’t commit a lot of turnovers or make a lot of stupid plays. And that’s kind of the downfall in what happened to us. It’s been a big point of emphasis going into this season, eliminating those type of mistakes. Coach was talking about to us this morning. Those things end up killing you. Like I said, it’s a long way from the start of the season. We probably have 40 practices. Guys are gonna come, guys are gonna go. Guys are gonna get injured, how we’re gonna prepare? We have a long way to go.
How would you evaluate your 2009 season?
Like I said, it’s hard to evaluate personally. We didn’t know what we needed to do. Obviously, as the quarterback of the team, I take a lot of responsibility in that, so I’m taking a lot of responsibility to get it right this year. No one really cares about what happened or why. You either win or you lose. This game is all about winning.
Expectations are down just a little bit …
For who? I don’t give a damn really. I don’t care what you guys think. I know what we think and what we think we can accomplish. What my dad thinks, I don’t really care about. What my mom thinks, I don’t care about because they don’t know. The only guys who can do anything about it are the guys on this practice field. It feels pretty good to me what we’re doing, what I see out here. We’ve just got to continue to put the work in.
What about you knee?
I’m feeling good. I’m feeling good. I’ve always tried to find ways in training
to stay in good shape and keep my arm in good shape. I’ve found different ways over the years to do that, whether it was my knee or your back or your arm. I’m feeling pretty good.
Wes said you helped him, giving advice on the knee … When you seem him out there running around, how impressive is that, knowing what he’s gone through?
Wes is the toughest player I’ve ever been around. He’s all heart. When you’re his size, he’s had to fight his whole career. Nothing really surprised me with him. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever played with, and it will be really fun when he gets back out there with us because it adds a whole different dimension to the offense when he’s out there.
How much do you miss Logan (Mankins)?
A lot. Logan’s been a great player for this team and a great representative for the organization and a great player. We miss him. There’s no doubt. He’s a good friend of all the guys on this team, and he’s got a lot of fans in the locker room. We’re hoping at some point maybe the situation gets resolved, but in the meantime, we’ve got to go out here and do our jobs.
Have you talked to him?
Yeah. Yeah. I’m not really going to share that, but yeah.
No barbers in California?
No, it’s a different look this year.
Is it the Justin Bieber look?
No, no. Bill Belichick is trying something new. I’m trying something new. It’s a new year. You’ve got to try something different.
Looking at the young guys, with Tate and Price, and the number of receivers, it’s impressive …
All the guys, they all kind of do something different. Who knows how it’s all going to piece together, but I think there’s a lot of different skill sets out there — some fast guys, some quick guys, some deep guys, some short guys, some quick guys. It’s nice you can really mix and match. Add that to the tight end group, there’s a lot of guys who are making plays out there, so it’s been fun. You feel like you’ve got a lot of guys who can do something with the ball.
You have a lot to discover on them too … Is a lot to process for learning what they do well?
You’ve got to keep it simple enough for everyone to be confident with what they’re doing so they can go out and play fast. I wouldn’t say we have the easiest offense for receivers or tight ends to learn. A lot of teams probably have it easier. Just making sure those guys know what they’re doing so they can go out and execute at 100 percent rather than running out, being unsure and indecisive because that’s where you get into problems. If they know what they can do and they know what they’re doing, the ball is snapped and they’re doing it at full speed, it’s a real good group.