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Monday, January 25, 2010
Tom Brady covers plenty of ground

By Mike Reiss

BOSTON -- A full transcript from Tom Brady's charity appearance today, as he touches on everything from his surgery-free offseason, to his charity work, to the Patriots' 2009 season, to entering the final year of his contract (as transcribed by ESPNBoston.com):

What is this event here today?
“It was something we came up with over the course of the season (with smartwater), that if we weren’t sacked we’d donate $5,000 to the BCYF (Boston Centers for Youth & Families). It happened six times this year, which I was certainly proud of. When we’re not getting sacked, we’re winning games, which is important, and also we’re giving money to some causes that are really great for the city. It’s nice to do it, nice to support it, and it’s always nice to come out and see the kids too.”

Who do you like in the Super Bowl?
“Oh man, I don’t like either team. One has to win obviously. I don’t know, I don’t know. I watched a couple of the games yesterday. It will be a great game. We played both teams. They’re both talented. Can they both lose? Is that possible?”

Were you surprised with either result yesterday?
“No, they’ve been the best teams all season. They certainly deserved to be there. They proved it over the course of the whole season. They have a lot of good players. They did the job. They earned it.”

Will you watch the Super Bowl and is it painful?
“Yeah. I think all of us wish we were out there. In another respect, you have to give credit to the teams who earn it. They did. I think both teams over the course of the season, they deserve to be there. You don’t want to hate on those guys. You have to say ‘Congratulations, you guys did a better job than anybody else.’ Hopefully we’ll be back in that position at some point next year.’

How far away do you think the Patriots are from both those teams?
“Well, we’ve obviously got ... the way it ended, there are a lot of things that we need to do better. I talked about a lot of those things over the course of the year. This is the part of the offseason where you try to solve those problems. And every team has problems. Every team has strengths and weaknesses. It’s about identifying them and trying to figure out ways to improve them.”

Is there one greatest area in your mind that needs to be improved?
“There are a lot of them. The thing I think I focus on is what I need to do better, and there are certainly a lot of things I need to do better as a player, as a leader, as a quarterback, as a mentor. I’m one of the oldest guys on the team now. I’ve seen a lot of good teams and I’ve been on teams that haven’t been successful. Hopefully I can just provide insight to those players in a leadership role that ‘this is what we need to do.’”

At the end of the year, there needed to be a larger space to list all your injuries. Are those injuries that will heal over time, or will you require surgery?
“No, it’s just bumps and bruises over the course of the year. We all deal with those and I drink my smartwater, so when I do that, it keeps me nice and hydrated and keeps my muscles nice and moist [smiling]. I’m feeling good. I really am. I’m excited I don’t have to have surgery this offseason. I remember where I was at a year ago at this time and there were all these concerns about whether I was going to play this year. I was never concerned about that. I tried to tell you guys [kidding], but it’s nice to be in an offseason where I really feel like I can get started right away.”

Does that excite you that you are able to think like that as you get into the offseason – that guys get better the further they get away from the injury?
“Sure. Nobody wants to take a year off. It’s something I did and it happens with a lot of players, like Wes [Welker] – he has a tough road and he’ll overcome it, I have no doubt he will. Everybody deals with it at different times, unless you’re Brett Favre. So you just have to learn to overcome them, be mentally tough with whatever circumstance happened with your body or your mind, and try to go out and play a helluva lot better next year.”

Do you watch other games and focus mostly on the quarterbacks?
“Oh yeah. That’s always who I’m watching. I watch the defense too, and see what they’re doing. I watch the receivers and see how they’re running routes and concepts and how they get open. It’s a neat perspective because I know the teams and I know the players and I know their strengths and weaknesses. I love watching the quarterbacks and how they perform.”

Does it hurt to go home even more at the end of the season, especially as you get older?
“Every year it does. Every team puts a lot of time into it and everyone works hard. I’ve had it great over the course of [my] career – four Super Bowls, five AFC Championship [games]. You never want to rationalize a season, but in reality we didn’t deserve it. We didn’t earn it. The teams that are in it, they earned it. When I watched yesterday, you can see why. They play well, they’re tough, they’re physical, they’re smart, they’re disciplined. I hope all the players on our team looked at that and said ‘OK, well, this is where we have to measure ourselves by and how are we going to get to that level?’”

Can you talk more about what you’re doing today?
“Sure, it’s always exciting for us as athletes to come – whether it’s a youth center or a Boys & Girls Club – and see the younger generation out here enjoying, and the volunteers that are getting these kids motivated and having this active lifestyle. It’s a pleasure for me. It’s something smartwater said to me ‘What do you think of this?’ I thought was a great idea to raise money, and to give away money is something we all love to do.” 

What is it like walking in here and seeing all the kids with their eyes lighting up?
“I reflect on when I was their age and I remember looking up to, and I met Will Clark. I loved baseball. I met Dwight Clark one time, and I still remember that today. I still remember the feeling I had. It’s someone they see on the television and in the newspaper, and their friends talk about. Hopefully they realize at some point that they can have that in whatever they choose to do in their life. They can aspire to whatever goals they set for themselves.”

Do you have any thoughts on the Pro Bowl and how the game doesn’t have all the NFL’s best players in it?
“I don’t have a lot of thoughts on the Pro Bowl. I’m not playing this year.”

There is a lot of uncertainty with the CBA, and you are in the last year of your contract. Is there any uncertainty there for you with your future with the Patriots?
“With my contract? [Laughs]. I really don’t like … we’re so fortunate to be playing. I think we’re way overpaid as it is; all of us. We get to go play football for a living. I love playing and I’m very fortunate to play, and I’m very fortunate to walk off the field this year and end the season without having surgery. That’s not really a concern.”

So you’re willing to take a pay cut? [joking]
“Like I said, we’re all overpaid. We have the greatest job in the world and I have the greatest job in the world. I love being here and I love Boston, I love the city, I love the community, that’s where our home is.”

Would you like to have that settled before the start of the season?
“The contract? Well, I’m under contract and I signed a six-year contract five years ago. There are a lot of players that end up being in my situation. There is a lot of uncertainty with the league and being a player rep now, I realize all the different issues that we’re facing. It’s a really unique time in the league and as a team player, I don’t sit here saying ‘What about me, What about me?’ I’m under contract and I’m going to go out there and play and play my butt off.”

With your role with the players association, can you give a feel where things are with the labor situation?
“I’m a player rep and I get emails and [have] conversations with our leaders on the state of the negotiations. I think we’re a long way away, from the way it sounds. That’s what everyone is saying. But in a sense, we’re a whole season away from it happening too. We’re really going to see what transpires over the next 12 or 13 months.”