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Tom Brady on benefits of being pick No. 199: Could grow behind scenes

EPA/Larry W. Smith

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady still keeps a chip on his shoulder from being a sixth-round draft choice in 2000, but he also believes he benefited from being such a late selection.

Mainly, no one really paid any attention to him.

"That was a great opportunity in my life to actually come into the NFL without a lot of expectation," Brady said in an interview with CNN "Talk Asia" from his offseason trip to China (part 1; part 2; part 3).

"When you’re picked late, not a lot of people expect too much from you. So I was able to kind of, my first year, work under the radar. I worked really hard when I didn't have to play and be in front of people and the criticism that takes. Where a lot of young players have that, and that criticism they take at a young age, you know, is hard to overcome.

"I didn't have that. I was able to build and grow and learn and watch. By the time I got my opportunity, I felt like I was in a really good mental place. I improved physically and I maybe caught up a little bit more."

Brady was the Patriots' fourth quarterback in 2000, behind Drew Bledsoe, John Friesz and Michael Bishop. It is rare for a team to keep four quarterbacks on the roster.

This is the second time this offseason that Brady, who became the team's starter in 2001 after an injury to Bledsoe, has touched on how expectations can be a burden. From an NFL perspective, those expectations are already front and center in places like Chicago with No. 2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky, the quarterback from North Carolina.

In addition to his reflection on the silver lining of being a late-round draft choice, here were a few other soundbites from Brady’s CNN "Talk Asia" interview.

Patriots a 'magical place': Asked about the partnership between him and the Patriots over 18 years, Brady said, "When you play team sports, you put aside your personal goals for what's best for the team. For us, it's always been about winning, working hard, putting the team first. It's a great culture. It's been a really magical place. It's a really hard-nosed town. Boston is very blue-collar. A lot of people are working hard to support our team."

Special relationship with Gisele: Describing his marriage with Gisele Bundchen, Brady said, "Family is everything to me. I had such a great mom and dad growing up that showed me what a great relationship and marriage was all about. The love for one another and the commitment to the family and their kids transcended so much. To find a wife who has the same outlook as I do; her mom and dad, [who] I love so much, they gave their family the same roots. Gisele grew up with five sisters. They're all very close. I grew up with three sisters and we're all very close. To find a woman who is really a great partner, and we have so many of the same beliefs, it's one of the best parts of my life."

Tough to be a reigning champion: Reflecting on 2003-2004, and what the Patriots would like to accomplish this year, Brady noted how challenging it is to repeat as Super Bowl champions. "To win it back to back, I know how hard that challenge is. We did it once before. It's hard to do. You're the hunted. There are a lot of teams that are going to be coming after us. But that’s OK, because we're coming after them, too."