FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Saturday that he doesn’t see a difference in the work environment between himself, coach Bill Belichick and his teammates heading into the playoffs.
“I see it as I’ve seen it for the last 18 years: that we’re all there to do a job, and that’s to go out to do our best and help the team win,” Brady said in his weekly interview on Westwood One, which aired at halftime of the AFC wild-card game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans. “That’s been very consistent here. That’s been a big reason why our team has been so successful, and I don’t see that any different going into this week.”
On Friday, ESPN published a story detailing tension within the Patriots organization, specifically with Brady, Belichick and owner Robert Kraft.
Asked if there is a different type of tension going into this week, Brady said: “I don’t think so. I think in so many ways, adversity that our team has faced over the years only makes us stronger. Everything is a great opportunity, and we have a great opportunity as a team.
“We’ve worked very hard to get ourselves to this spot: to be 13-3, to have the 1 seed, to have the bye is a very hard thing to do. So to let anything get in the way of that and all the hard work that people have really put into it and what we have achieved, to take away from that, it would be very unfortunate if we let this opportunity get away from us.”
Brady was asked if he thinks there is a chance that the Patriots could become fractured.
“I don’t think so. Only if we let it,” he said. “I think for so long we’ve proven that we ignore the noise, we do our job, we speak for ourselves, and we focus on what we need to do to help the team win.”
Brady said he has spent the past two days with his family and is excited to see whom the Patriots will host next Saturday in the AFC divisional round. He acknowledged being aware of recent media reports. As for whether they could be a distraction, Brady said: “Along with winning and great success comes a lot of things. I think for a long time we’ve done a great job of winning games, and it forces people to be creative with what they talk about and the things they write and the things they may speculate on. Diagnosing football plays doesn’t get the attention that some of these other things might.
“So speculating on relationships or what my feelings are toward my team or my organization or players or coaches, I can only speak for myself. And really, my relationships with everybody that I deal with, I feel are so positive. To think any differently of that is complete nonsense. So I love the fact where we’re at as a team. I want my focus and energy to be where it needs to be, which is on the biggest game of the year. That’s what I know I’ll personally accomplish, and I know that’s going to be a big goal for our team this week, too.”
Brady was asked specifically about his relationships with Kraft and Belichick, with Westwood One’s Jim Gray calling the former “an owner who treats you like a fifth son” and the latter “a genius of a coach who’s won five Super Bowls with you, who would like to get rid of a player a year or two early rather than a year or two late.”
“I characterize my relationship with Mr. Kraft as very much the same way,” Brady said. “He is a great person, man. He has been like a second father to me in so many ways. I have a great relationship with Coach Belichick. We’ve worked together for 18 years. There’s no coach I’d rather play for, and I’ve loved my experience here. I certainly couldn’t be the player I am today without playing for such a great coach. So I see these as all positive things. A lot of people … that obviously doesn’t sell many newspapers, but, to me, I have such gratitude toward my time here, and I’ve loved my experience. I continue to love my experience.”
Brady was not asked specifically about quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, whom the Patriots traded to the San Francisco 49ers earlier this season. ESPN reported that Belichick was issued a mandate by Kraft to deal Garoppolo, now 26, with Brady wanting to play until his mid-40s.
Brady was asked Saturday if he still expects to finish his career in New England, saying in response that, like he said a few weeks ago, he always wants to be a Patriot.
“Well, in that aspect I haven’t changed at all, so I know careers change,” Brady told Westwood One. “They change places. Great players change, coaches change, ownership changes, that’s just the way it is. So, you know, I think there’s a humility that you understand that you’re not bigger than any of this, and I believe I’m certainly not. And, you know, I love this team, I love this organization, and hopefully we can go out and make everybody proud by finishing the season the right way.”