Tom Brady has conducted a handful of print interviews this offseason, but hadn't held a group question-and-answer session with the media since the conclusion of Super Bowl LI. A day after his 40th birthday, the QB spent 15 minutes post-practice fielding questions that mostly centered on his relatively advanced age, training regimen, and health status.
As he has done in the past, Brady reiterated that he hopes to continue playing well beyond this season.
"I've never thought about not playing. At least until my mid-40s, I said, so that's a pretty good goal in and of itself, and then we'll see when I get there. But it's been so fun. Football's been such a rewarding part of my life. I fell in love with the game when I was young, and I'm still in love with it today.
"I've had to be smart about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it," Brady continued. "The routine changes because your body changes and you have got to be smart as you get older. I've been working hard at it for a long time. I've got a great regimen and it's a process for me. The best part about it is I enjoy what I'm doing so it never really feels like I'm working at it because I really love doing it. I love practicing, I love preparing, I love training and certainly I love playing. I'm at a good point. Hopefully [I can] just keep it going."
The quarterback attributed his longevity to more than just his physical and dietary routines. His family, he emphasized, provide the necessary support to allow him to continue doing what he loves.
"To get to this point takes a lot of people helping you along the way… my wife takes care of our home in a great way that allows me the space to come out here and really play free not having to worry about certain things. My parents have traveled from the West Coast to the East Coast, which is not an easy flight, for 18 years. My sisters come here. My youngest sister moved out here to help me when I was younger and still lives out here. It just takes a lot of people supporting you and loving you."
Brady's lengthy, successful career has been even more remarkable considering how injury-free he's managed to stay for most of it. However, Brady's wife, Gisele Bündchen, made headlines earlier this year when she suggested that her husband suffered a concussion during the 2016 season – an injury that, if true, was never listed on the team's injury report.
"I don't want to get into things that happened in my past, certain medical history and so forth. I really don't think that's anybody's business," Brady responded when the topic was broached Friday. "I'm not sitting here worried about last year or five years ago. There's other people that do worry about that – my wife or my parents or my sisters or people that love me and care about me – but I do the best that I can do to come out and be prepared to play, mentally and physically, and I give the game everything that I can.
"I believe so much in being proactive with your health… but it's a contact sport and I think we all understand that," acknowledged Brady. "There's a lot of great benefits that football brings you. Certainly you can be put in harm's way."
For the moment, Brady is enjoying playing seemingly at full strength, even as he enters his fifth decade. He says his teammates, coaches, and even Patriots fans – many of whom came to Gillette Stadium yesterday to serenade Brady with "Happy Birthday" – contribute to his sustained enthusiasm for the game.
"So many of these guys are so young, but they keep me young too. I got a nice birthday cake from [fellow QBs] Jimmy [Garoppolo] and Jacoby [Brissett]. Jacoby wrote 'Old' on it as my age, so they certainly have a lot of fun. But I had so many people that sent me notes, and it was very thoughtful.
"I woke up today feeling like I did yesterday morning and the day before that, so it was good," he smiled. "So many people came out and wished me a happy birthday. I had a lot of support and [it's] fun to be on the field. It's where I've been for a long time."
Check out some of our favorite images from Patriots Training Camp at Gillette Stadium on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017.
Game of throwings
Traditionally around this point in camp, the coaches add an element of entertainment and ramped up competition to practice by breaking the roster into two – blue jerseys versus white – and scrimmaging for two hours.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels served as "head coach" of the white team, while defensive coordinator Matt Patricia coached the blues. Head coach Bill Belichick served as referee, time-and-score keeper, and overall moderator of the proceedings.
Brady quarterbacked the white side for several series before eventually yielding to Jacoby Brissett, while Jimmy Garoppolo called signals for the blue squad the entire time.
Trailing 20-12 with under two minutes, Garoppolo had a chance to drive his blue offense to a potential tying score, but failed to convert a crucial fourth-down that would have extended the drive.
"Frustrating… You want the ball in that situation. Just have to execute," he lamented to reporters afterward. "You're never happy about incompletions or interceptions or anything like that. But it's training camp. We'll learn from those situations, watch the film, diagnose what happened and what we can do to fix it.
"As long as we're learning and progressing, we'll be all right. We're grinding right now, for sure. It's the dog days of camp, but Jacksonville's coming to town next week [for joint practices] and we've got to get ready for that."
Despite the failed final drive, Garoppolo welcomed the change of pace that Friday's scrimmage brought to the daily routine of training camp.
"Yeah, [it breaks up the monotony of] the drills, and you're going against the defense the whole time; now, you're on half the defense's team. It's kind of continuity thing, too.
It's always good, really putting to the test most of the [plays] we've put in. So, [the coaches] make it as close to a game situation as they can. I like it."
Buy: Devin Lucien – The second-year receiver has taken full advantage of his opportunities this summer, culminating in his two TD receptions during Friday's intra-squad scrimmage.
Sell: O-line left side –With left tackle Nate Solder missing two consecutive days of practice and left guard Joe Thuney exiting the scrimmage early with an apparent injury, New England's starting offensive line has taken a hit.
Play of the Day:During the second half of the scrimmage, white squad QB Jacoby Brissett hoisted a perfect spiraling, arching pass of at least 50 yards down the left sideline. Lucien had a step on his defender and hauled in the pass as he fell on his back in the corner of the end zone to finish the dramatic scoring play.