FOXBORO - Tom Brady spoke to the media Friday for the first time since he stood down in his longstanding Deflategate battle with the NFL.
His comments were measured, non-inflammatory and cordial. Anyone hoping for a fusillade launched at 345 Park Avenue will be disappointed.
Days of speculation as to when Brady would speak came to an end at the end of practice. Brady, who was mulling whether or not to put his session off until Sunday, walked to his equipment bag at the end of practice, plucked a blue pullover and red Patriots’ hat from the bag and trotted toward the assembled media.
It may not have been a coincidence that Brady was dialed-in to a ridiculous level in the team’s intrasquad scrimmage with a 25-for-25 passing performance and celebrating big plays like the division was on the line.
At one point, after a long touchdown completion to Matt Slater, Brady sprinted downfield with his right hand in the air, index finger pointing skyward.
While Brady’s been his normal self for much of camp, the heightened scrutiny on him has led to all manner of body language interpretations from the media. First, he was said to be “disengaged” and acting forlorn and lost. Then, he was said to be overly emotional.
Having watched 17 of his camps, this is how he is annually. The trees in Flowery Branch, Georgia, are still shaking from the F-bomb Brady launched there in 2010.
“I’m pretty much the same,” said Brady. “Been the same way for a long time. I think it’s a way to elevate everyone’s game. It’s a very competitive team, it’s a competitive sport. You’ve got to bring it mentally every day. You’ve got to have an attitude about you.”
What has been interesting is the competition between offense and defense and the rejoicing done especially by Rob Gronkowski after successful plays.
“We have a lot of guys who bring that,” he said. “I’m trying to push [the defense’s] buttons. I love to do that. And they’re trying to push them back and I think that gets the best out of everybody.”
Asked how he’ll adjust to being off for a month following the final preseason game, Brady said, “I’m just trying to be as good as I can be every day. Making improvements in certain areas, and we’ve changed our offense and we have new players on the team and we’re trying to incorporate them. I feel like we’re building towards something. It’s a long season. It’s a long season. It’s just gonna be a lot of hard work and a lot of discipline and effort. I’m gonna go out and do the best I can do in whatever role I‘m asked.”