Q: What have you seen from N’Keal Harry in terms of being able to make some of the contested catches that you need in this league?
TB: Like any rookie, I think there’s a lot to learn, there’s a lot of things happening. Like all of us, we’re just working every day to try to get better. And he’s going to, I’m going to, Jules [Julian Edelman] is going to – he’s got a lot of good people in his room, lot of veterans that he can depend. We still have a long way to go and he’s going to learn every day so the more we do the better.
Q: You took a similar approach to this offseason as you did last year. Can you explain why that is the right approach for you?
TB: I have a family at home and I think they get some of my time and energy. My wife is a very ambitious woman and she travels a lot, so just trying to divide some responsibility at home. She supports me a lot, my family supports me a lot and my kids aren’t getting any younger. So just trying to spend the time with them when I can and still get the other things done that I need to get done and be ready to go when it’s time to go.
Q: What is the reaction to not having Rob Gronkowski here and the evolution of the offense without him that you’ll have to go through?
TB: Yeah, it’s the first time in a long time and he was such a great player for our team. I think like any season, things are different and we’re going to have to adjust differently and teams are going to play us differently without him. We’ve seen it even when he’s been on the team. The other guys are getting up to speed, Matt [LaCosse]’s done a good job, Ben [Watson]’s done a good job, Stephen Anderson’s done a good job. That’s got to be a position of strength even if it’s not one player but multiple players doing different roles. There were times in my career before that where we had similar approaches. No one’s going to make any excuses for our offense, we’re going to do everything we can to be the best we can be, score every time we touch the ball and the tight end position’s a big part of our offense and those guys are going to have to do a great job for us.
Q: What’s it been like to reunite with Ben Watson after 10 years? You guys have 10-year old kids now.
TB: He’s got one older than mine, he’s got 14 years of marriage on me too. He’s a great guy, he’s been a great player in this league. You watch him play out here still and he’s got great ability. He’s had some great years recently and that’s what everyone expects. He’s excited to be here and I’ve always loved being his teammate and it’s going to be a good year for him.
Q: Do you feel like you have to make up at all for missing the last eight weeks?
TB: Make up for what?
Q: For whatever work has been done here.
TB: I think trying to get ready individually and collectively, everyone has different things they have to do and I think our coaches do a great job with preparing our guys. Individually, guys are coming out here trying to get better. I’m trying to do the same thing. When we come together like this, it gives us a chance to see where we’re all at.
Q: You’ve said 41,000 times that you want to play until you’re 45.
TB: Is it that many?
Q: Are you still in that mindset and how’s the business side of things as you enter a walk year?
TB: I hope I can play that long. I think you set goals for yourself and you have to have short-term and long-term and the reality is, this year is the most important one and that’s the one that I’m focused on. I hope there is a lot of football beyond this, but it’s a contact sport. I’ve said that for a long time, too, and I don’t think that you can take those things for granted. I try to work hard to put my body in the best position possible to withstand the hits and so forth, make all the throws and I feel like I’m in a good place right now for that.
Q: Do you think about the contract or is that something that works out and always has?
TB: Yeah, I don’t think about it too much.
Q: Would you prefer to not be in a walk year when the season starts or does it not matter to you?
TB: I think those things work themselves out.
Q: Have there been negotiations?
TB: That’s none of your business. (Laughter) I’ve never really talked about my contract or anything like that so I don’t really want to start doing that now.
Q: Can you talk about the ring ceremony tonight and what is the atmosphere when you go through all these ceremonies?
TB: You know, it’s pretty special to be in this position and to accept a ring and to have that for the rest of your life. That’s something you’ll pass down to your kids. It means a lot, that 2018 team accomplished a lot. It’s a great night to celebrate. You’ll have these pictures for the rest of your life. It’ll be fun, everybody’s looking forward to it.
Q: Can you talk about having the ceremony at Mr. Kraft’s house and what that atmosphere is like?
TB: He puts on a great party. He’s been planning it and I’ve been fortunate to be at a few of his over the years is pretty cool. It’ll be a great night.
Q: The Tom Seaver people were really agitated this week over the “Tom Terrific” trademark. Did you hear about that?
TB: Yeah, I did. It’s unfortunate. I was actually trying to do something because I didn’t like the nickname and I wanted to make sure no one used it because some people wanted to use it. I was trying to keep people from using it and then it got spun around to something different than what it was. Good lesson learned and try to do things a little different in the future.
Q: So you did that for Tom Seaver’s memory and not for Tom Brady?
TB: Well, I didn’t want people associating me with that because that was something that I didn’t want to have happen. I don’t like the nickname. I don’t like when people probably give me many nice compliments – certainly that. It wasn’t something that I was trying to do out of any disrespect or ill manner or anything like that.
Q: So no plans to make any sort of merchandise or anything like that?
TB: I hope not.
Q: Were you surprised at all that Rob Gronkowski decided to retire?
TB: I think different guys retire at different times and he’s had an incredible career. He’s spoken a lot about it, I know a lot of people have. I don’t think that’s what this particular day is about – I mean, I love the guy, I’m going to see him tonight. We’ll have a big celebration, he’ll have fun tonight at the party, we will too. This team has to establish something differently. All the players have to come in and earn a role. That’s what this week is all about.
Q: Can you talk about your relationship with Zdeno Chara? You’re 41, he’s 42. By the way, he was on the ice today.
TB: Good. Yeah, it’s amazing, he’s accomplished a lot in his career and he represents a great team. We’ve been in the same area so following him and following the Bruins, it’s been an exciting time to be around here. He’s been a great kind of role model for people, very tough, very disciplined, very dedicated guy. One of the nicest guys I’ve ever met in my life and just happy to see that team be in the position they’re in. It sucks for him to have a broken jaw, but knowing him, he’ll be out there if he can.
Q: What have you learned about N’Keal Harry so far?
TB: Yeah, I think like anyone, he’s working and we’re trying to use the time to talk about different routes and there’s so many different things to learn. I always say when someone’s 22, in some ways it’s a disservice the way they get treated because everyone expects them to come in and just take what they did in college and replicate it in the pros. And in reality, it’s a totally different game. It’s really hard to get acclimated to these environments to go from an amateur to being a professional is entirely different. Like all of us who were 21 or 22 at one time, the difference when you’re older and have experience, the level of comfort, knowing exactly what the expectations are is very important. It’s just a work in progress. I think all of us are trying to learn each other, trying to learn the offense and we put all these moving parts together and it takes time to forge relationships but you do it through a lot of repetition and a lot of communication and that’s the time of year that we’re in.
Q: Is that why you invited him to work out with you and Julian Edelman earlier this offseason?
TB: Yeah, I’ve worked with a lot of different guys over the years. It’s important to get out there and kind of replicate what we’re trying to do out here.
Q: Bill Belichick always mentions that this is a teaching camp. As you’ve been around longer, has your role kind of evolved into teaching or are you still learning out here?
TB: I think a quarterback’s natural thing is to communicate and teach to a degree. But we have coaches that do all the teaching and I sit in the meetings like everyone else, trying to learn something, trying to apply something, bring it to the field or make a correction on one day and then move onto the next day and try to improve it. It’s been three days, we’ve got some stuff to learn from and it’ll probably go all the way up until the end of the year. You’re never a finished product. One thing you look at last year is how we evolve and how we grow over a certain point and you just try to keep coming out with a great process and try to get better as the year goes.
Q: An 18-game season is going to be discussed. You’ve been in this league a long time. What would an 18-game season do to an NFL player?
TB: Depends how you take care of yourself, that’s how I see it. I think your ability to play, your ability to practice is as good as your ability to recover. So if you can’t recover, I think a six-game schedule is hard. I think I try to focus on the recovery of things and try to be out here every day in practice. I know it takes a level of commitment to do that, there’s a lot of work in advance that needs to happen. I love football.
Q: What about that tweet a couple of days ago about “treating your first like your last and your last like your first?” Was that some sort of retirement tease or something?
TB: It’s a Jay-Z song. I like Jay-Z a lot.
Q: What were you trying to say by tweeting that out thought?
TB: I just like the lyric. It was a pretty good lyric. Did you like it? I did too. I put some music lyrics on there from time to time.
Q: So there’s no hidden meaning in there?
TB: No, I think it’s a general appreciation for every year, you’ve got to come out and you’ve got to earn it. I don’t think anyone relies on what I had done last year or 19 years ago. I think it’s about what I can do for this team this year to make sure my body’s prepared, my mind’s prepared, everything mentally and physically is in a good place. It’s a marathon of a season, I’ve said that for a long time too. Mile one’s not the hard part, mile 20’s the hard part and that’s where you have to bear down and where you’re really tested mentally and physically. Football’s a tough sport so when things are good emotionally, mentally, physically, I think that puts you in a great position to play your best football.
Q: It’s the 75 anniversary of D-Day and Joe Cardona got promoted to Lieutenant. Can you just share what you saw and what that moment was like for the team?
TB: It’s pretty emotional, you know? You see someone who takes the oath like that and raises his hand, and it’s a big commitment Joe’s made. I think Joe does it very proudly and he does a great job educating a lot of us on what it means to him. I think we all appreciate that. So, we see the work that he does here for us, but also the work that he does for our country. I’ve talked to Joe a lot over the years about what his roles and responsibility are and I think everyone’s proud of his accomplishments. As proud as you are to win a Super Bowl ring, to advance in that part of his career is pretty amazing. So, to do both is really a great thing for him personally and nice to be able to celebrate and congratulate with him.