Tom Brady reflects on life and football

Peter King scored a rare and insightful offseason interview with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to lead off "Monday Morning Quarterback" at SI.com.

Brady came off as contemplative but unapologetic in discussing how family is pulling him away from the Patriots' offseason program more than before.

Brady, who will turn 33 in August, has been a sporadic participant in the Patriots' conditioning program thus far, choosing to spend more time with his two sons. Jack, whom Brady had with actress Bridget Moynihan, is 2. Benjamin, whom Brady had with wife, Gisele Bundchen, is five months.

"It's a balancing act,'' Brady told King. "I don't want the next 10 years to go by and to say I wasn't there for my sons. I wish I could be there [at Gillette Stadium over the offseason] the way I was when I was 24, but life is different now.''

Brady admitted that not being around as much isn't ideal for team development.

"I'm not going to have the same relationship with the guys as if I was there every day,'' Brady said. "I hope they can understand. I've seen it handled different ways by a lot of guys on the team in the past, including some of the real leaders. I've seen Willie McGinest and Rodney Harrison when their family lives turned in different directions and they couldn't be in the offseason program every day. Ultimately, what it comes down to is this: We've all got to be ready to play.''

Brady touched on a variety of topics, but the most interesting quote to me was his take on whether the Patriots were a team on the rise or on the decline. They won the AFC East last year, but an embarrassing home loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the first round ended the Patriots' campaign with a resounding thud.

"Our fans think just because we're wearing the same jerseys, we're the same team. And we're not,'' Brady said. "Teams change in this league every year, and ours is no exception. Last year was pretty disappointing in a lot of ways, obviously. Losing to Baltimore the way we lost in the playoffs, losing leads late, losing on the road. Every year is so different, and the way we approach this year will be extremely important. We need to see the toughness. We need to see the commitment. Can we take the coaching?''

He said he has been throwing passes to Wes Welker, but King said he declined to reveal any details about how Welker is recovering from surgeries to reattach his left knee and to mend a rotator cuff.

Brady also told King he's high on young receivers Julian Edelman and Brandon Tate and liked the signing of old friend David Patten.

As for the New York Jets' offseason, here's what Brady had to say:

"They're always a team that gives us problems, and they've sure made a lot of changes this offseason. When your archrivals do as much as they've done, you've got to pay attention. They went to the conference championship game. They've got a great defense. They can run the ball as well as anyone, and they've got a great young quarterback who can make a lot of plays. Our whole division's improved. To win the division, we'll really have to earn it this year.''