In his final Monday morning call-in to Boston sports radio station WEEI, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady touched on his injuries, expanded on previous statements about the team’s leadership deficiencies, and looked ahead to 2010. Here is a sampling of the Q&A for hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan:
Once again presented an opportunity to give injuries as an excuse for his poor play, he didn’t take it. :
“I don’t think [injuries were] the reason [for poor play Sunday]. I don’t think any of those injuries are the reason for any of it. You either play or you don’t play. To sit here and play and then, and you don’t have a great game and then you blame all the things that are bothering you, to me that’s not real mental toughness.”
Did he ever consider taking a week off with injuries?:
“No, I don’t think that ever crossed my mind and I don’t think that crosses any of our players’ minds. You gotta be out there to help the team win and you gotta give everything you have. That’s our job, that’s why we’re here. That’s why we train hard. That’s why you gotta challenge yourself in the offseason to overcome the mental adversities that you may face. You’ve got to push yourself to the point where you don’t think you can go much further and then you go further and you overcome it. That’s part of what offseason training it all about. That’s part of being an athlete.
“We have a lot of really tough guys on our team and lot of great competitors, which is why we were in the postseason and why we were the third seed. It all comes down to one game yesterday and we didn’t play good.”
On believing in receiver Randy Moss:
“I have a lot of trust and confidence in Randy. Every team in the league game plans around him. There weren’t many opportunities for him yesterday where he didn’t have a safety high over top of him. ...
“He has a lot of heart for the game. He loves playing the game. He’s a very hard worker. He’s someone that I have always relied on. We have a great relationship.
“It doesn’t always tell the story when you get two or three clips on the NFL channel and a bunch of people analyzing this particular play or that particular play when they really don’t know the whole story.”
On improving in the leadership department:
“We all as team leaders have to have a great offseason and make the improvements that we need to make and come back with a greater resolve than we had this season and take the lessons we learned from this season and move forward with a better understanding of what it takes to get to where we need to be. At times this year we did some really good things and were really in synch. At other times we were very disjointed, just couldn’t get on the same page. It shouldn’t be as tough as we made it at times offensively . We’ve got to find ways to correct that.”
“Guys like Tedy and Rodney and Mike and Larry Izzo and Richard, they don’t come around very often. It’s not like those guys are just available via free agency every year. These are special players and special guys. It’s not the Patriot uniform that makes the team play the ‘Patriot Way’ that you refer to. It’s the coaches and the players, collectively working toward the same goal. Any time you lose players like that, there is a loss ...
“Other guys have to step in and fill those shoes. Guys who were here with those type of players have to take those lessons of leadership they learned from them and apply those to what was happening this season. ... The reality is obviously the leadership on our team wasn’t where it needed to be. I’m speaking for myself. I was one of those leaders that certainly needs to do a better job in getting everybody on the same page and filling the void of those key players you mentioned.”
Did the Patriots fight hard enough this season?:
”In order to be a great team, there’s got to be that commitment over the course of a year, and not just during the games. The games are kind of when it’s easy. Whatever coach asks us to do that’s what we need to be willing to do. Being around him for as long as I have, he understands when we’re ready to play. He understands when he feels like we’re going through the motions. He always says, ‘Don’t mistake activity for achievement.’”
More on being prepared:
“Coach Belichick always has the pulse of the team. He knows when we’re ready to play and he knows when he feels like we haven’t prepared the way we need to prepare. Part of that mental toughness, part of that commitment, is doing whatever he asks us to do to be prepared to play. I know at times he was frustrated by that and I know we as leaders on the team, were trying to convey that message to everybody, and we obviously didn’t do a very good job of that. It’s something that we, moving forward in 2010, need to do a better job of.”
On the team not having a good practice Thursday:
“[Belichick] didn’t feel like Thursday we had a very good day of practice. He was really kind of pissed off at the way we practiced on Thursday. A lot of the time you have a really bad practice during the week and you overcome it. Some days you don’t overcome it. Some days you have a really bad first quarter and you overcome it. Some days you don’t.”
Redemption in 2010?:
“The positive that I take is that I have another opportunity to do it next year. ... my body feels really healthy and strong and I said, ‘you know I’m just very fortunate that I’ll have a chance to really redeem myself and our team can redeem itself next year’ because this isn’t obviously the last game I’ll ever play."
Brady said next year’s team will be “quite a bit different” as it “usually always is”, but also sees some “unique things happening” throughout the NFL this offseason due to the uncertainty over a possible uncapped year in 2010.
Is he still as committed as he was before his life expanded (wife, two children)?:
“The guys who really know that answer are the guys I play with. I love the game and I love playing and I love working hard for it. For me there’s not a lot of things going on in my life, as funny as that sounds, other than my career and my family. Hopefully because I got married that doesn’t affect the way I play quarterback. That’s not something I’ve thought much about ... I think my life is very focused and prioritized with the things that are very important to me, and that’s obviously my family and my football career . There’s not really a whole lot of other things going on other than that.”
Looking to the 2010 team:
“We’re all very excited about what’s to come with [Julian Edelman]. There’s a lot of other players like that too, guys who really had their best years. A guy like Brandon Meriweather, who is going to continue to be relied on as a team leader. Jerod Mayo, same type of player and talent.
“We’re going to have to kind of lick our wounds and deal with the next eight months of an offseason and really look forward to what’s ahead.”
“We’ll be back, I know that. This team isn’t going anywhere. We have a lot of great pieces in place and hopefully we can do a better job next year all around.”