Patriots

Tom Brady responded to the reports about his departure from the Patriots

A hoarse Brady declined to throw his former coach Bill Belichick under the bus.

Eric Espada
Tom Brady is 44 years old.


Quarterback Tom Brady isn’t slinging any mud ahead of his return to Gillette Stadium.

Amid reports that coach Bill Belichick refused to meet with him in person at the end of his 20-year tenure in New England, Brady publicly seems to have no qualms about how his departure ultimately went down.

“All those things are super-personal,” he said Thursday afternoon. “We had a great relationship. I think everything was handled the right way. I think we handled everything as gracefully as we could. It was an amazing time. It was handled perfectly.

“I think everyone understood where we were at, the people involved in the situation. Things worked out for the best for all of us, and we’re all trying to do the best we can do now. It’s what happens in life.”

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Despite the growing buzz that the relationship between Brady and Belichick soured at the end of their time together, the two have traded compliments this week.

On Wednesday, Belichick said there are not “enough superlatives and adjectives” to encapsulate all that Brady has achieved in his career.

“He’s as tough as any quarterback there is or ever has been,” Belichick said. “Enough said. I mean, his numbers are incredible. He’s about to pass the all-time passing record. He’s done more than any other player at that position in whatever measurement you want to take, whether it’s yards, completions, touchdowns, championships, you name it.”

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Brady, too, had nice things to say in return.

“He’s a great coach,” Brady said. “He has everyone prepared and does a great job of that. He taught me a lot and was a great mentor for me for a long time. I really enjoyed my time in New England. But, at the same time, I’m super-excited about what we’ve done here.”

Sunday night will mark the first time Brady returns to Gillette Stadium since leaving the Patriots to sign a two-year, $50 million contract with the Buccaneers.

Brady tried to downplay the personal significance of the game — as have many of the other players involved — focusing instead on what the matchup means for his team. The Bucs are coming off their first loss of the season, a 34-24 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams.

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“I’ve played in a lot of big games,” he said. “This is a big game for our team, this is a big game for our guys. We had a tough loss last week. We want to get back on track, get back to winning. We got to do things the right way. Obviously, this team challenges you to do it the right way.”

So, how will he manage his emotions?

“I haven’t thought too much about it,” he said. “I just am going to try to do what I always do: go be a great quarterback. Obviously, I understand the opponent and I know all those guys — they’re some of my great friends, they will be for the rest of my life. I know a lot of coaches, players, owners, the staff. It’ll be great to see everyone after the game.

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“But, up until the game, I’m focused on going to try and win a football game.”

Brady’s voice was noticeably hoarse on Thursday, which he attributed to yelling over the piped-in crowd noise during practice. Things will undoubtedly get loud come Sunday night.

“My throat’s more tired than my arm,” Brady said, with a smile.

Brady had no impressions to share about his successor, rookie Mac Jones, whom the Patriots drafted with the 15th overall pick this year. Brady only said hasn’t watched him much at all.

His praise, however, wasn’t limited to Belichick. He lauded the Patriots’ defense and rattled off a number of names, from his longtime friends Devin McCourty and Dont’a Hightower to new additions that he didn’t even play with during his time in New England.

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“They know I want to kick their butt this week,” Brady said. “They’ll know exactly how I’m feeling once I’m out there.”

Still, he made sure to emphasize that the focus of Sunday night’s game should not be on him, nor on his history with the Patriots; rather, it should be on the two teams competing.

“You go through these experiences, you don’t know where life’s going to lead,” Brady said. “The people who really bet on me, I want to do really well for them. Jason and Bruce, them coming into my life and saying, ‘Hey, we really want you to be here,’ it’s been an amazing thing for me.

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“I’m just excited to go up there and beat a really good football team. That’s ultimately what this week is about. It’s not about the quarterback. It’s not about the fans, the home crowd, or relationships of 20 years. It’s about two good teams going at it.”

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