The New England Patriots quarterback consented Wednesday to his first real interview since tearing up his left knee in September.
He was on the air for only 10 minutes. The first part of the interview was devoted to Barack Obama's inauguration and Brady's philanthropic works in Africa, and some of the segment was dedicated to hawking a sports cream, the reason for his interview to begin with.
Still, he spoke and didn't dodge any questions that were set forth, although I was told by someone in the know concessions were made in arranging the interview and certain topics, including girlfriend Gisele Bundchen, were verboten.
He was not asked whether he would be ready for training camp, about the NBCSports.com report his rehab was delayed by an accumulation of scar tissue or if the Patriots would need Matt Cassel to stick around for a while.
Brady showed his interview skills were rusty when he unleashed a curse word not allowed in the U.S. or Canada.
What was it like to watch an entire season and not be able to play?
Tom Brady: You play this game long enough, and [expletive] happens, so to speak. The reality is it happens to everybody. I'm in a new part of my career, and I'm excited about rehabilitation and different challenges. The tough part is you're not experiencing something you love to do. But you get over that and you focus on what you've got to focus on and you just say, "OK, well, it happened. We're moving on."
Could you follow the team closely, or was it too hard?
TB: I watched everything. I was the biggest cheerleader. It's painful when you see our team lose, and I thought we really had a great year, being that we finished 11-5. It was tough enough to not make the playoffs, and a team that's in the Super Bowl, the Arizona Cardinals, we beat by 40 points.
So I was disappointed along with the rest of our team and coaches, but it was what it was. It was a tough competition in the AFC this year. We're going t try to make some improvements this offseason and see if we can make it back to being the division winner next year.
Did it surprise you to see the Cardinals regroup after that loss and reach the Super Bowl?
TB: The Giants, when they won the Super Bowl, were the sixth seed going in. The Cardinals weren't really playing their best football toward the end of the year. But you get hot at the right time. They certainly have a lot of great players. Larry Fitzgerald, if anyone has seen him play in the last three weeks understands he's unbelievable. I've gained a new respect for him. You don't see too many Arizona Cardinals highlights on TV, but when you watch him for a full game it's pretty impressive what he can do.
The NFL is extremely competitive from week to week. The rules are in place to bring everybody back to the middle, and a team like Arizona that hasn't ever been to a Super Bowl? Hey, they have an opportunity. That's the beautiful part of the way the league is set up, the hope that it creates for each team at the beginning of the year. I think it's pretty cool that Arizona's in it.
How's the rehab going?
TB: It's going really well. It's going really well. Anyone who's come back from injuries that require surgery, it's just a process. There's some good days, some bad days, and you just got to keep plugging through them. That's life.
Like I said, things come up and you just got to focus your energy and attention on all the positive things that you can gain. It tests you in a lot of ways. Like I said, I'm excited about the process. I'm excited about the work. I've had so many wonderful people that have helped me. I've said I'm the most-well-taken-care-of knee patient in history. I'm very, very fortunate.
How will the Patriots deal with the losses of vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli and various top assistants?
TB: There's change every year, and I think you've got to get used to that in the NFL. You look at Tony Dungy from the Colts retire, and then you have the defensive coordinator, [Ron] Meeks, he [resigned]. Every team deals with it. We dealt with it three or four years ago when our two coordinators, Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel ... Eric Mangini left.
There've been incredible coaches that have been a huge part of our success get opportunities. They work hard and deserve those opportunities. They take with them all the great memories and experiences from our team. It's the responsibility of the people that are still with the Patriots to worry about the Patriots.
As long as we have Robert and Jonathan Kraft, and as long as we have coach [Bill] Belichick, I always think we're going to be just fine.