FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – Tom Brady approached the mass of reporters waiting to talk to him and asked, “Who wants to talk football?”
They wanted to talk contract.
Whether he liked it or not, Brady faced questions Wednesday about entering the final year of his current deal. With the season opener a few days away and work being done toward a contract extension, the New England Patriots quarterback provided few details.
No, he said, he hadn’t signed a new contract.
Yes, he loves playing for the Patriots, has an outstanding relationship with team owner Robert Kraft and owes it to the team to focus on football.
And, no matter how much he knows about how close he is to a new deal, he kept that to himself. He wouldn’t even say he’s excited about the possibility of being with the Patriots for a long time.
“I don’t assume anything anymore in life,” Brady said. “I don’t think anything is guaranteed to us beyond what we have today and I really feel that way.”
That philosophy was driven home when his 2008 season ended midway through the first quarter of the opener when Kansas City safety Bernard Pollard crashed into his left leg, causing serious ligament damage in his knee.
“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,’ ” Brady said.
With four surgeries in the past eight years, is Brady more eager to sign before Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, providing security in case of another injury?
“It’s not even a part of my thoughts right now. I haven’t thought about it yesterday, today,” Brady said. “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.”
Brady is scheduled to earn $6.5 million this season as part of his six-year, $57.3 million contract.
With signs pointing to an extension at least before that deal expires, Brady wouldn’t say if he’s confident that would happen.
“I don’t know. I don’t know. I have no idea,” he said. “We’ve had a chance to deal with it (the contract) 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.”
Brady spoke in front of about 50 people holding notebooks, digital recorders and cameras at the locker of defensive back Bret Lockett, who is on injured reserve. It’s at the end of a row of lockers and has more room around it than Brady’s locker. In past years, Brady spoke at his own locker and reporters overflowed into the adjacent space of Randy Moss.
The wide receiver has his own contract issues. His deal also is in its final season and he said Monday in an interview with CBSSports.com, “it kind of feels like I am not wanted.”
Moss, a fixture at preseason practices, did not participate Wednesday due to illness, according to the Patriots practice report.
“I want him. He knows that. I tell him every day,” Brady said. “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.”
In three seasons with New England, Moss has averaged 83 catches for 1,255 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Brady also wants two-time Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins, a restricted free agent who hasn’t reported because of a contract dispute.
“We’d all love Logan here. Everybody in this building would, but he’s not,” Brady said. “We have to move on and play a game this weekend. Who knows what’s going to happen?”
Whatever happens with his contract, he said it won’t affect his relationship with 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’ ” Brady said. “It’s very unconditional, the relationship I have with coach (Bill) Belichick and the whole organization. I’m blessed to play here and I love playing here.
“There’s no better job in the world that I’d rather have,” he said. “That’s why I want to do it for a long time.”
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