FOBXOROUGH, Mass. -- Can’t slip one past Bill Belichick.
Reminded that Wednesday is quarterback Tom Brady's 39th birthday, which has become a New England sports holiday of sorts in recent years with fans singing to him at practice, the New England Patriots coach was quick to note that it is also the birthday for reserve offensive guard Chris Barker.
“I don’t think we want to miss Chris Barker’s birthday, either, as long as we’re celebrating,” Belichick said with a smile at his 9:15 a.m. news conference.
The 26-year-old Barker is a second-year guard out of Nevada who has played in six games during the past three seasons while shuffling between the practice squad and active roster.
Belichick’s remark, delivered with a playful touch, is one example of how he treats players the same, whether they are No. 1 or 90 on the roster.
It’s a bit different for fans, several of whom had signs Wednesday with birthday wishes for Brady.
Photos: Theme of the day -- Tom Brady's 39th birthday and a fan base steadfastly supporting him. pic.twitter.com/y2C5R3H35t— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 3, 2016
Kyle Medeiros, 13, of Somerset, Massachusetts, said he woke up at 5:30 a.m. to make a sign for Brady at practice. He sat in the front row of the bleachers with his mother, Brenda, and sister Adrienne.
“An easier time waking up than getting him up for school,” Brenda joked.
Likewise, 9-year-old Zac Ventola of Westwood, Massachusetts, sat in the front row with his family and friends as he held a sign for Brady.
About a half-hour into the practice, the crowd began singing “Happy Birthday” to Brady as he warmed up for a drill. Brady waved his hand in the direction of the crowd as a form of acknowledgement.