Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, September 8, 2010.
Q: Another season, huh?
TB: Yup, yup... I'm excited about getting to this week. A lot of the work we've put in this offseason and through training camp comes to a head this weekend. I know all the players are excited. I know this is a real good team. So, it's just good to be out here on the practice field, getting ready.
Q: How fast has this offseason gone?
TB: It's gone real fast, for all of us, too. I tell that to the younger players and I think you just appreciate what you have and it goes fast.
Q: Carson Palmer said he did not feel right that first year back after his knee injury. How much better this year do you feel?
TB: I felt pretty good last year. I don't think it had much to do with my knee at all, the way we ended up playing last year. There were a lot of things we didn't do well and there were things we worked hard to improve on, so my knee is not going to be the issue this year, hopefully. It's just a matter of us going out and playing well, playing good football, playing the way we're capable [of playing] and executing. It's a totally new team for us this year. We have a lot of new guys, a lot of guys that have been here that know what we're doing, but I said earlier today that we're always looking for ways to reinvent ourselves.
Q: Have you signed a contract between this morning and now?
TB: No, I've been in meetings all morning.
Q: Does it ever enter your mind about the first contract you signed and how the expectations have changed?
TB: No, I mean I hate when athletes say it's not about the money. It's our job, so... I think you love playing the game and that's why we do it. I think we're fortunate to get paid for something that we love. If we weren't getting paid, we'd have to find something else to do. There's no better job in the word that I'd rather have, to do what I'm doing. That's why I want to do it for a long time. Everything else in my life pales in comparison to how much I love this. In that sense, it's about winning games. That's what we're here for. We're expected to go out and win games. That's the real motivation for all of us. That's definitely the real motivation on our list.
Q: Are you excited about the possibility of being here for the extended future?
TB: I don't assume anything anymore in life. I don't think anything is guaranteed to us beyond what we have today and I really feel that way. That's the approach I've taken over the years, because you never really know when your last day will be. I really try to just take it one day at a time. I know it's a cliché and all that, but it's the truth. I think it's a great message for all of us. No matter what your job, you're living and enjoying today and that's what's most important to me.
Q: Is getting a contract done before the season starts important to you considering what you just said?
TB: It's not even a part of my thoughts right now. I haven't thought about it yesterday, today... I'm just thinking about the team we have to play. I owe that to this team. They have a lot of things going on, too, but when they come into work, they're focused on the team. I think that's my responsibility and my role and that's what I love to do anyway. That's what I'm going to continue to try to do.
Q: (On the Bengals' front seven...)
TB: They do bring a lot of pressure. We played them in the preseason last year and they were really good. I thought we came out of that game thinking, 'Man, that team really played us hard and had a really good defense.' It was no surprise to me when they played as well as they did over the course of the season. It's the same this preseason for them. They definitely do some things that challenge you in terms of protection, in terms of identifying where the issues are. It's a great defensive coordinator. I think he really has the right personnel for his scheme. That's why we're spending all this time meeting, so we can figure out how to do some things to move the ball and how to get the ball in the end zone.
Q: What are some of your hopes for this team this year?
TB: We talked about it this morning. Our team is the way it is now and based on what we've done in the offseason and preseason, we think we know what we have. But, that always changes over the course of the year, too. You try things and they don't work, so you try other things. Some things work and you build on those. That's something you have to sort out here. We've got a pretty good plan going into this game. I hope it works. If it doesn't work, we're going to have to find something else that does work. Based on what we've seen and what we're doing well consistently for the last six months, we have to put something on the field that is able to take advantage of some of the things that we've seen from Cincy's defense that we can exploit and things that we do well offensively.
Q: How disappointed are you that Logan Mankins is not here to start the season?
TB: Logan is a great friend and I think all of us in this locker room have to focus on what we're doing because he hasn't been here and we're all trying to get our job done. We'd all love Logan here. Everybody in this building would, but he's not. We have to move on and play a game this weekend. Who knows what's going to happen?
Q: How does that first game from 2008 shape your mindset for the business side of things for you?
TB: That's a big part of it. This is a physical game. I've had four surgeries in eight years - my shoulder and my knee and my groin... and another one, too. But, pretty much every other year you're having a surgery. Some are major... all surgeries are major as far as I'm concerned now. You count your blessings when you come off the field; I think you have a new appreciation when you do come off the field, win or lose. You're trying to win every time out, obviously. But I think you also pinch yourself every time you walk off the field healthy and say, 'Man, at least I get a chance to go out next week and play also.'
Q: Are you confident that you will have a new contract before this one expires?
TB: I don't know. I don't know. I have no idea. We've had a chance to deal with it this offseason and we are where we're at. I'm excited with where we're at for this season. I think that's what I owe this team. I don't assume anything. I just want to come out and play football. That's where I'm at.
Q: Randy Moss said he feels unwanted. Can you talk about the camp he's had and your relationship with him at this point?
TB: I want him. He knows that. I tell him every day. He's everything we look for in a receiver. He's been a great player for his whole career. Look at what he's done here in terms of his productivity. Look at what he's done this preseason in training camp. He's been a great example, a great leader. We're lucky to have him, we really are. He's something.
Q: Has he surpassed what you expected when the team signed him?
TB: Yeah, there's no question. There's only one Randy Moss that would ever play this game. He's probably the greatest downfield receiver in the history of the NFL. I mean, those catches that he makes when he runs 65 yards down the field and you throw it and he just runs and catches it. That's impossible to do. I've asked him, 'How do you do that?' And he says, 'I don't know, man. I've been doing it for a long time.' So, he has some special skills that nobody is really gifted with.
Q: Do you notice any drop off or his skills diminishing?
TB: He looks as good to me as...you know why? It's because he works his butt off to train and he keeps himself in shape physically and he knows what he has to do to prepare. With guys like that, you don't see a lot of drop off, because they're always preparing themselves at the highest level. The guys that don't prepare themselves, you see them and they don't last very long. He really works hard to prepare himself.
Q: Does your relationship with the owner make contract negotiations easier?
TB: I really love being here and playing for Mr. [Robert] Kraft and Jonathan [Kraft]. Our relationship isn't based on how much money he pays me. 'I'm great when he pays me what I want, and I hate him when...' -- I mean, that's not the way relationships work. I've had friends like that in the past. That's not the type of friends you want. It's very unconditional - the relationship I have with Coach Belichick and the whole organization. I'm blessed to play here and I love playing here. I think we're all fortunate to play for a team that's committed to winning. If that's the goal for all of us, if you want to win, you really appreciate where you're at.
Q: If you are able to get a deal done, does that say something about your relationship with the owners and everybody on the team?
TB: I have a great relationship with the team. I'm not worried about that, I really do. I've always had a great relationship with the team. That won't change regardless. Like I said, I love it here. I love the coaches and the players and the facility and the area. We're all pretty fortunate to be here. It's a great place. You could be somewhere else where there are three reporters covering you, but we got 40 or 50 here.
Q: (On the state of the offense...)
TB: We've got to find some different ways to do it than in the past because we don't have a lot of the same guys here. It's a different makeup to the team. We're still trying to find ways to identify what we're doing and we're going to have that all figured out this week, or next week, or the following week. It's going to take some time to really figure out the younger guys that can contribute. Brandon Tate, who's never really played, Aaron [Hernandez], and Rob Gronkowski, who have never played, BenJarvus [Green-Ellis], who hasn't played in a while, who's on the roster. So all these guys - Taylor Price and Matt Slater - so, all the young guys who haven't played, who are on the roster that need to be able to contribute, and, the older guys have to contribute. We have to do our job. Wes [Welker] and Randy [Moss] have to have a great year. I have to have a great year. Alge [Crumpler] does. I certainly expect all of us to play our best. But the younger guys, we have to incorporate them, and see how really they fit in.
Q: How different of an opener is this compared to recent years?
TB: I'll tell you, there's never an easy game. I know everyone looks at the schedule and [says], 'That's a win. That's a loss. That's a win, win.' There's no such thing as that. You have to go play well, and if you don't play well, you're going to lose to anybody. And if you play well, you can pretty much beat anybody. I don't think there's really an easy opener. We don't know what the 2010 version of the Bengals is going to be, nor do we know what the 2010 version of the Patriots is going to be. That's why we're playing. That's why there're going to be fans in the seats cheering and looking forward to the outcome, just like we will.