Tom Brady discusses dealing with 'tough situation'

ByMike Reiss via ESPN logo
Monday, September 7, 2015

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addressed reporters Sunday for the first time since his Feb. 2 Super Bowl MVP news conference and the ensuing Deflategate scandal that followed, expressing empathy for equipment assistant John Jastremski and officials locker room attendant Jim McNally.

"It's been a very tough situation for everybody. It's put a lot of stress on everybody's families," Brady said in front of his locker before practice. "I feel bad that anybody is in the position that we've been put in. Hopefully we can just keep learning from life's experiences, and I certainly feel terrible for them that they're not able to be with us right now."

The Patriots suspended Jastremski and McNally during the NFL's investigation. Team sources said the club was informed by league officials that if it didn't suspend Jastremski and McNally, the NFL would do so.

Jastremski and McNally are banned from working for the Patriots until they are cleared by the NFL.

Brady didn't reveal if he has been in contact with Jastremski or McNally, saying "those are personal things."

"They've been obviously put through a lot, as my family has," Brady said. "I think that's the challenging part."

Ahead of Thursday's season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brady reflected on his legal fight against the NFL and how excited he is to be able to play.

"It's obviously been a long seven months for everybody, but I think now the goal is to focus on what my job is and what I need to go out there and do to help our team win," he said. "Anything that has happened over the past seven months, obviously I have a lot of personal feelings. But I really don't care to share many of those.

"I really care to think about what I need to do going forward. There are a lot of guys in this locker room that have worked really hard to get to this point, and so have I."

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he "wasn't surprised at all" that Brady will be playing Thursday.

"Just felt like the league had done something without ... I guess it was just more of a feeling, an inkling, of knowing that the commissioner jumped to a pretty harsh punishment," Roethlisberger told New England reporters on a conference call Sunday morning. "I figured that would happen."

Had Brady's suspension not been vacated by Judge Richard M. Berman, the Steelers likely would have had a better chance at victory Thursday. But as a competitor, Roethlisberger said he wasn't always thinking along those lines.

"I still have a ton of respect for Tom. I think he's the best in the business. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best," Roethlisberger said. "Of course, one part of you doesn't want him out there, because he is the best in the world. A bigger part of you as a competitor wants him out there because he is the best.

"... It's the way that NFL football should start, and that's maybe one of the reasons I knew that Tom would be out there, because I knew the NFL doesn't want to start a game without him out there."

Brady said he kept his focus on playing the full season throughout the legal process.

"I hoped I would be out here all the time," he said. "I think I've always tried to do the best things that are in my control, to go out there and to be a quarterback of this team. I take it very seriously. You guys know I probably haven't missed many games in my career, except for the season I tore my ACL [in 2008].

"I'll be excited. Still a lot of preparation to do between now and then. Facing a really good team, and all my energy and attention needs to be there, and that's where it's been the last couple days."

Brady cited support from family and friends in helping him over the past seven months. Specific to support from the Patriots, he said, "Mr.Kraft has been unbelievable support for me."

Meanwhile, according to The New York Post, Patriots owner RobertKraft attended a Labor Day media party in East Hampton, N.Y. Saturday night and was seen chatting with Berman.

A Patriots spokesperson, however, told the Post's Page Six column that it was a completely random encounter.

"It was a chance encounter at a social event with hundreds of guests" the spokesperson said of Kraft's brief meeting with the judge who vacated Brady's four-game suspension. "There was a brief introduction and an exchange of pleasantries that lasted no more than a couple of minutes."

Asked about the NFL's decision to appeal, Brady said, "That's their choice, and I think that's part of this process. My part is to get ready to play football."

As for how the offseason affected him and if he was able to get a mental break of any kind, Brady spoke from a big-picture perspective.

"It's just different. I've dealt with different situations in my life. ... You have to always figure out a way to overcome different obstacles you face," he said.

"Part of it is being mentally tough, and part of it is compartmentalizing things and dealing with things when they're really kind of at the forefront. When they're not, you have to put them someplace else and think about what your job is. I think that's a lot about what I've learned over the years playing this position. Certainly, any time you're someone in the public eye like I am, you deal with different things, and I think everybody in their life deals with different stresses, whatever they may be -- financial, family stress, work stress. You just do the best you can do."

Brady said he's always appreciated being able to play.

"I love football. I love the sport. I love playing in the NFL," he said. "To get the opportunity to do it, and certainly with all my teammates and my friends, I've had so much support with my family through all this. For the last 20 years, I've been playing football at this time of year, and it feels good to be able to do that again."

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