New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, September 7, 2008.
Q: Is there any question that you will not be the starter this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs?
TB: If it is up to me, there is no question. But those questions aren't always up to me. I am always hoping that I am going to be out there and preparing the same way. I think I have been getting progressively better over the last couple of weeks. I am excited, excited to start the year.
Q: Do you have a feeling of what you might have lost by not playing in the preseason this year?
TB: I don't know. I am pretty confident that I have played a lot of football games and I think I know the situations and understand what it takes to move the team and get the ball in the end zone. I don't think there is a lot of confidence lacking from my standpoint and with the ability of what our team has. I think we just have to go prove it.
Q: Do you feel comfortable heading into the regular season without snaps in the preseason?
TB: Yeah, and I practiced a lot this preseason. I was out there quite a bit. It was just the last couple of weeks I didn't practice as much or play. Randy [Moss] didn't play the entire preseason last year and it didn't affect him a whole lot. I am hoping it doesn't affect me a whole lot.
Q: This has been a very unusual preseason for you. You haven't played yet and we haven't seen you on the sideline in the last three preseason games. What is the reason for that?
TB: The coach [Bill Belichick] excused me from the game. He said 'There is no reason for you to be here.' Rather then stand on the sideline, he knows I am not going to play so he rather have me…sometimes I think I can be a bit of a distraction just standing around. He said 'Alright, your not playing so just like all the other inactive guys, just stay home and be ready to go the next day.'
Q: Is there an injury aspect to you not being on the sideline during the games? Was it that your foot needed rest in order to be ready for the regular season?
TB: I wouldn't say it is that. Nobody likes to stand around all game, especially me. Coach [Bill Belichick] made the decision and said 'head home, relax and we will see you tomorrow.' I take the cue from the coach and that is what he wanted me to do so that is what I did.
Q: Do you feel you could have played in any of the four preseason games?
TB: Sure, Sure. Yeah, I would have loved to play. Like I said, the decision was made that I couldn't play. I wanted to play, the decision was made not to play and like I said those decisions aren't always up to me. All I can do is focus on trying to get better, improving and being prepared. In some cases I certainly was doing that.
Q: Did your body feel like you were able to play?
TB: I did, I felt like I could have played in all of them. I practiced the entire preseason pretty much. I practiced all those weeks; I just didn't get the opportunity to play. The decision was made 'OK Tom, you are not going to play.' I was fine with that. I said 'OK, if that is what you guys feel is best then that is what you guys feel is best.'
Q: So was it more of a precaution? It wasn't that you couldn't play?
TB: Yeah, I think that the coach [Bill Belichick] takes advice from trainers and doctors. It is just something that came up that was a bit unexpected and I think we have moved past that. I was out there practicing yesterday and I am going out there to practice today. Hopefully, I will be practicing enough the rest of the week to give everybody enough confidence to know that I will be OK if I go out there.
Q: Without playing in the preseason, how much do the mini camps and training camp help with getting ready and building chemistry with your teammates?
TB: Well, there is nothing like playing. You can't replicate the speed of that, the decision making that goes into it or your level of energy. I think coach [Bill Belichick] tries to simulate that as best as he can. He puts us in enough pressurized situations out there to make quick decisions. You can't do that unless you are playing. I think the fortunate thing for me is that I have played in about 130 games. So I know that speed and my body knows that speed. Hopefully, I can rely on the past history that I have had playing.
Q: Is it that you have gotten to a point where you have been around long enough that you know what to do?
TB: Yep, pretty much. I feel I have. I feel like when I go out there and start throwing the football in April or May after not throwing it for three or four months, you pick up right where you left off. Throwing so many footballs over the course of my life, it is not like I need learn how to throw a football, take a drop or make a read. All the plays are in the playbook, or the ones that were put in when I was here. I was a part of all those conversations of why we were doing certain things. It is just a matter of going out and doing it at a faster speed. Like I said, you try to duplicate that speed out there on the practice field. You don't always get it done, especially because nobody is hitting you. It is a lot different when the defensive line is rushing to hit you rather than rush to give you a look. I have played in a lot of those games to know what that speed is and hopefully I am prepared for it.
Q: Does it feel like college since you are going into a regular season with no preseason action?
TB: I don' know. It was so long ago. There were a lot of frat parties in my college career. I don't remember all that.
Q: What are your thoughts on cornerback Deltha O'Neal joining the team?
TB: Deltha [O'Neal] is a very experienced player and he has great play-making ability. He is always around the ball. He has a lot of great skills. I think everybody is excited to have him here. We grew up in the same area. He went to Cal-Berkeley and we were the same year. We almost went to the same school.
Q: Do you remember that game against the Broncos in 2001 [October 28]? When cornerback Deltha O'Neal intercepted you twice?
TB: Yeah, I remember - very well. There were four picks in the second half, actually in the fourth quarter. He [Deltha O'Neal] made a diving catch that was pretty awesome. You don't want to mess around with him that much. He has great ball skills. In college [Cal-Berkeley], he could do everything. He was a receiver, defensive back and he returned kicks. Hopefully, he can add some of that play-making ability to our team.
Q: What is your overall outlook on this season?
TB: I think it is exciting for all the players that this game is the one that starts the season. All the preparation that we have had for many months is focused on this. We are all trying to get up to speed on a team [Kansas City Chiefs] that we haven't played very often. It's about understanding what we are going to need to do and what they do well. There is going to be a lot of energy. It is a home opener and the guys are excited. The guys are excited to see what we can put out there. The last four games have not been up to our level of expectations. I think this is a great opportunity for us to really build some confidence in our team and build some momentum going forward.
Q: How much has your foot improved over this past week?
TB: Quite a bit. Everyday it gets better. You get treatment on it and as time goes it heels and feels better enough to where I can go out there. I was out there last week and I will be out there a little more this week.
Q: Do you expect the 'switch to flip' when the season starts and you guys will play like you expect to play?
TB: I don't think we look at it like that. I know I don't look at it like that. I think the way you practice is usually the way you go out there and play. We have to go out there and prepare this week as hard as any week we have prepared around here because that is what this opponent [Kansas City Chiefs] is challenging us to do. We have not played very well and we have not performed very well. Not only in practice but obviously in the games. If we want to go out there and play better, I think we have to perform much better in practice. We got off to a very good start yesterday and we have to build on that today. That is where you establish confidence. That is where you establish guys who know what to do, understand the scheme and can execute under game conditions and full-speed temp. That is why we practice. Everyday at practice is important and whatever happened yesterday we can't get back. We have to continue to try to make improvements.
Q: Health wise, what percentage would you say you were at?
TB: I don't know. Coach [Bill Belichick] hates percentages so I usually don't give them. I have been yelled at more times with comments I make so I am laying off that one. Write that, so he reads that too.
Q: Everybody keeps asking you about your health. How big of a distraction is it?
TB: It is as big of a distraction as anybody wants to let it become, which I don't think anybody will let it become a distraction. I don't think it will be much of a distraction.
Q: A few years back, you talked about how you couldn't believe you were a starting NFL quarterback. Do you still have that enthusiasm as you enter your ninth season?
TB: Sure, this is a great job. I think it challenges, especially my position, all my emotions and energy - mentally, physically and emotionally. There is always a challenge. The part of the competition is that you get a test every week. I am excited to see how I perform this year and how well our team performs. Being a part of this team and having a coach [Bill Belichick] and assistant coaches like we have, I know we always feel like we are in a great position to win - even before we step on the field. As a player, we can't go out there and screw it up and I hope we don't.
Q: Running back Heath Evans said that you were the 'must humble' superstar he has ever met. Where does that come from?
TB: Heath [Evans] said that? That is a very nice compliment and I would say the same with Heath. I think we have a lot of great superstars in this locker room. Anyone that is playing and has the responsibility we take on, all those guys are admirable. I look up to a lot of people myself. They aren't necessarily all football players. They have all kinds of ordinary jobs. I think we are all blessed to play. It is exciting for us to take the field and represent our community.
Q: Do you think you would have the same level of success if you were selected one pick later as the 200th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft?
TB: Ha, well who was the 200th pick? Not if I was playing for…I don't want to say them because we play them this year; some of these teams that haven't done so well.
Q: Does it frustrate you to watch your team struggle when you aren't out there?
TB: Yeah it does, and like I said I wanted to be out there with them. I think they knew that too. When I see them go and take the field and come in the next day and get yelled at and see that we are not doing it the right way, it is frustrating for all us. It is frustrating for the guys that are playing and the guys who aren't playing, which included me this preseason. I hope that is not the case too often - hopefully never. I hope that I am always out there playing.
Q: How is it playing with the type of guys you have that are able to score a lot of points?
TB: Well, when you go out there that is what you are trying to do. You are trying to go out there and score every time you have the ball. You are trying to execute the play that is called based on the way you practice it that week and the look that you are getting. I don't think some of those games surprised us last year when we were winning by a lot of points. I don't think there were games that surprised us when we didn't play so well. It was just based on the way that it was executed. The better we execute, the more points we will score. The better we execute, the more fun we have. This could be one of those games where hopefully our execution is at a very high level. If it is not, then it is not going to be a great outcome. There is only one way to do it and it is through hard work by putting the time in this week so we can go out and do it on Sunday.