Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning as the Patriots prepare for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Dolphins in Miami. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Patriots finished a 2-2 preseason with Thursday’s 16-13 loss to the Giants. Since then, the team traded stalwart offensive lineman Logan Mankins and backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. According to a report, Brady was very upset upon learning that Mankins was sent to the Buccaneers for tight end Tim Wright and a 2015 draft pick.
“I haven’t really spoken to anybody about it,” Brady said. “I have my own personal feelings that obviously are very personal to me. Whatever those are, I just want our team to be the best it can be for this year. I love Logan, Logan was a great friend of mine. Nobody stood for Patriot football more than him. But he’s moved on. I hope he’s happy. We’ll keep in touch.
“We’ve got a game to win. I can’t really think too much about what happened in the past. Like I said, yeah, I dealt with whatever feelings I had last week, but I’ve moved on. I’ve got to move on, because that’s what this team expects me to do. With Miami coming in, the only thought on my mind is how I can be the best quarterback against them and how I can can try to go out there and lead my teammates and be a great example and be a great motivator and bring the enthusiasm and energy for the team. Because without that then we have less opportunity to win. And you guys know me, I like winning.”
Brady has been through this before, losing close friends in the final days and weeks before the season begins, but he said the business aspect of football is no easier to handle as a seasoned veteran.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “I’m a very person-to-person type of person. I am a very emotional person. I don’t think those things have ever gotten easier for me. And I don’t think they ever will. But you’ve got to come to grips with it also, and learn to deal with things in a mature way.
“We as players, the business side of things, we’re there to play, we aren’t there to run businesses. We’re there to enjoy the camaraderie with our teammates, enjoy the playing experience with our teammates. We play for one another, and you deal with whatever comes up and then you move forward. I think that’s part of the sport. Being that it’s happened, I know it’s going to happen next year, too, I know it’s going to happen the year after that, the year after that — for as long as you continue playing here you’re going to be dealing with this.
“But now we’ve got a chance to move forward, to move forward with the start of the year. And you’ve got to bring the best attitude you can when it matters to the most, which is now.”
As with Mankins, Brady said he did not get much time to reminisce with Mallet, his backup for the past three seasons, after Bill Belichick sent him to the Texans.
“All these things that happen, they happen really quick,” Brady said. “I know coach said there were 800 transactions or something on Saturday. You show up to work one day, everyone’s there, you’ve got 90 guys or whatever, then the next day you show up and there’s 53. There’s not really time to sit around the table and talk about how great things have been. … In Ryan’s particular situation he’s moving on with his life, and the Patriots move on. You wish each other luck. We’ll always keep in touch. I keep in touch with Matt Cassel and Damon Huard and Brian Hoyer. I keep in touch with all these guys, because they’re my friends. It’s not football, it’s personal. Those guys will be friends for the rest of my life, certainly Ryan will be, too.
“You spend three years of all this emotion and energy you spend together and you have friendships. That’s one of the really gratifying parts about playing professional sports, is the relationships that you build with the people that matter so much in your life because you make such a sacrifice for them, and they make such a sacrifice for you.
“These things are never easy. It doesn’t take away from any personal relationship. It’s a business relationship that the organization has with particular players. Like I said, everyone deals with them differently, but the way that we deal with it is we choose to deal with it, you move on, and certainly this week and yesterday and on, we’re just focused on the Miami Dolphins and how we can go out there and put together the best plan to go out there and kick some butt on Sunday.”
Should the day ever come when the Patriots decide to part ways with Brady, the quarterback said it would be difficult to accept.
“There’s nowhere I’d rather play, I know that,” he said. “I love playing for this team and I love representing this team. Hopefully I can do that for as long as I can. When I suck, I’ll retire. I don’t plan on sucking for a long time. [Laughing] Hopefully that leads me to be in here, and there’s no place I’d rather be. I love this game and I love working hard at it.
“I’ve had a lot of people over the years tell me the things I couldn’t do, and I think that’s always been great motivation for me to go out there and accomplish things that I think I can do. Hopefully it’s to continue to play at a high level for a really long period of time.”
Added Brady: “I like working hard at it. I’m going to try to be the best I can be for as long as I can do that. Hopefully the team values that. If they don’t, then I’ll probably have a tough day at some point. That’s what football’s all about.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
On Rob Gronkowski announcing Monday that he’s ready to play: “Well, I hope so. The more guys we can have out there, the better. We just started the week of practice, so I think everyone’s trying to get out there, learn each other. The final roster has finally been picked, and whosever on the active roster really has to be ready to go. We’re going to need contributions from everybody. If Gronk can be one of those guys, then I think that makes our team better.
“We’ve got a lot of plans. We’ve made contingency plans for everybody being out. That’s just what we have to do.”
On Gronkowski’s impact on the team: “Him being a teammate for the last, I don’t know, four years, we know what he can bring to the team, what his ability is when he’s out there, what he’s capable of. Not only his own ability, but how that helps the other guys, too. Because it’s hard to put one guy on him and just think that guy can hold up all game. So then you may get more zone coverage, then you may get double coverage. They’re going to figure out their schemes to stop your best player. That’s what good defenses do, they try to identify what an offense’s strength is, and then they’ve got to shut that down. We have to try to identify what a defense’s strengths are and shut those things down.
“We’ve got a good group of guys. If they’re going to cover Gronk, then we’ve got to throw to the other guys. And when he’s out there, he’s obviously a great target because of his size, his speed, his agility, his ability to catch the football in traffic. That’s what he’s done over the course of his career. That’s why he’s got so many touchdowns, because he’s got such a big catch radius that you put the ball in certain areas and he can go up and make the play.
“But like I said, if they cover him, then there’s other options. We’ve got a lot of guys that I’m excited about. I’m really excited about our offense and the work that we’ve put in, guys really finding a role for themselves. That all really gets a chance to go out and prove it this weekend.”
On new tight end Tim Wright: “It’s been a short period of time. I haven’t studied what he’s been doing as much as probably the coaches have. … Truthfully, I watched him a lot last year because we had a lot of games where we saw Tampa playing, and I said, ‘Who is this young No. 81 that looks like a good player?’ I’m excited to have him on our team. He’s a good player. I know the other night in the game [watching] from the sideline he was making a lot of plays out there. Hopefully he can go out there and keep making them.”
On if there’s a change in the tone and pace in practice this week: “Absolutely. These count. This goes in the final standings. This is when you’re expected to be at your very best, and every bit of preparation that we’ve all done for the last last six months since the end of last season comes down to this particular day. Yeah, there’s a lot of urgency this week. You can’t afford any mistakes. The guys that are out there, those are the guys that have done the best job over the course of the offseason to put themselves in the best position to help our team. I’m excited. I think it’s a different feeling yesterday than all year. We’ve been off for so long, finally we get an opportunity to go out there and do something that really counts and that’s going to matter in the final standings.”