This might be a good thing to keep handy in the weeks/months to come.
Q: So do you feel like you’re almost 33?
TB: I’m feeling pretty good. I’m feeling pretty good. I try to, like all us older guys, find a way that works for them to be ready and to feel energized every day. We were talking about Junior Seau yesterday and how unique it is for a guy like that. More so than the way you train or physically, it’s your attitude as well. Guys who stick around, our attitudes are always pretty good like Kevin Faulk and Torry [Holt] and Randy [Moss]. That’s what it’s about. It’s about showing good leadership and coming out here and having fun.
Q: What’s different about this training camp than others? Is there anything different with this one from previous years?
TB: Hard to tell, you know. We’ve just gotten into it. The attitude of the team has been really good. People have come out and worked hard. That’s what Coach [Bill] Belichick always stresses – coming out and doing our best. Obviously, there’s a lot to learn from. We are a long ways from our goal, but we’ve come out, and we have to put a bunch of good practices together. That’s what it’s about. It’s about putting your work in. There’s no easy way about it. Camp is a grind and we’ve got to come out every day with a purpose and a sense of improvement and try to get some stuff done.
Q: Do you like Bill Belichick taking down all the old pictures of all the old Super Bowls and everything else? Is it time to start new here?
TB: Yes, I think that’s a good point by him. A lot of people always want to sit back and reflect. It’s important. You always learn from the past. You always learn from things you’ve done, things that have worked, things that haven’t worked. You also understand that any of the things that have happened in the past are certainly not going to help this year. And that goes not only for this team, but every team in the league. Every team starts fresh. As much as you’d like for there to be carryover every year, every year is a completely new year with new challenges. We’ve got plenty of them.
Q: Tom, there has been a lot of fixation on your future here and what is going to happen with your contract. Can you give us an update on where things are, because there has been so much conversation?
TB: Coach doesn’t like us talking about it a whole lot, so I kind of stick to that. As I’ve said before, nobody here can solve it other than myself and the team. I’m in the position that a lot of guys are around the league [and] on this team, and I’m under contract and it’s my responsibility to come out and play as hard as I can. That’s what I love to do anyway. I love to come out here and compete and I have a job. And I think that’s important to realize, too. It’s an interesting time in the world, and I’m glad to come out here and do something I love.
Q: (On discussing contract issues)
TB: I think you know everyone [thinks] it’s spoiled athletes and guys that are bitching about making millions of dollars. Everyone works hard to make a living for themselves, and I certainly don’t think we have much to gripe about. We come out, we love what we do, most of us. So I just enjoy coming out and playing. That’s where I get a lot of enjoyment in my life, and I want to do it for a long time.
Q: How do you keep it from being a distraction for you?
TB: I’d like to think that I have a little more mental toughness than anything becoming a distraction and affecting the way that I play. Nothing outside when I walk off this field ends up being a distraction for me. We all deal with stuff. All of us deal with different stuff in our life, some more challenging than others. As a leader on this team, someone who has been a captain on this team for a long time, [you have to] just put the things that are off the field behind you and to come out here with a good attitude and good leadership.
Q: There’s been a lot of speculation about your relationship with the organization, especially about your contract situation. Where do things stand between you and the organization?
TB: I’ve always been privileged to play for Coach Belichick, who I’ve always said is the best coach in the history of the league. And Mr. [Robert] Kraft, I have a great relationship with him. I’m not into playing games. I just want to come out here and do the best that I can do. Whether you make a dollar or you make millions of dollars like we do make, I really enjoy playing quarterback for this team. Since the day that I stepped on the field, it’s something I relish. And every year is an opportunity. You don’t get these opportunities back. I want to play for another 10 years, hopefully. And each year is an opportunity for us to accomplish something pretty special. And I don’t want anything to get in the way of that.
Q: There’s also a lot of speculation about whether or not you are unhappy. How would you describe your mood as it relates to the business side of things?
TB: My personal feelings are my personal feelings. I don’t want to express them with anyone except for a very few people. It doesn’t do any good. It really doesn’t. It doesn’t help this team. It doesn’t help the organization. It just really gets in the way. Everyone’s situation is different. I’m only commenting on my situation. Everyone’s got a different situation, a different approach, and they have to do what works for them. There’s a lot of guys who are restricted free agents based on the CBA this year. It’s just very different for different guys. I’ve got to do what’s comfortable for me. I’ve always tried to do that.
Q: Do you want to finish your career as a New England Patriot?
TB: Certainly, that’s everybody’s goal. That’s Troy Brown’s goal. That’s Tedy Bruschi’s goal. A lot of people have that. At the same time, I know that I’m playing this year, hopefully. We’ve still got five weeks before final cuts. It’s my responsibility to come out and earn a job and do the best that I can do. That’s really where my focus is.
Q: Do you feel that you also have a responsibility on the business side to the other players, too, because of everything that is going on with the CBA and everything else?
TB: Certainly. When you get elected as a CBA representative, as a representative of the union, you do have different responsibilities to convey messages to the certain players who don’t get the same information that we get – to pass that information along to the younger guys who haven’t been around as long, and guys who haven’t necessarily paid as much attention as they have in the past, with what’s going on. It is our responsibility to make sure that everyone is aware with what’s going on at this time.
Q: With you and Peyton [Manning] and Drew Brees, the contracts have been seen as bellwethers for the union talks with the league and everything else. Is that at all an uncomfortable situation to be in because you are considered one of the leaders in the league?
TB: Who knows. I don’t know what plays into whether guys are signing contracts or not signing contracts. It feels like a normal football season thus far. March 1 of next year may be different, but this year feels like business as usual, other than a lot of [postulating] by lots of different people.
Q: There have been a lot of guys to come and go on this team, under various circumstances. What is it like for you to be somewhat in that position, the same position you’ve seen others in? It’s not your first negotiation, but what’s it like to be in those shoes?
TB: You are right. You see a lot of guys come and go. And the reality is that’s this is business. We don’t play forever and we certainly don’t sign for 30 years. This sport is based on a revolving system of players that are in and out with free agency, something that the union fought hard for over the years. Players have the opportunity to move teams. Teams have the opportunity to cut players. It’s just what happens. Early on it used to really bother me. It still bothers me to a degree, but you understand that’s what this profession is all about. It’s a great game. Obviously, we are doing stuff we like. It’s a very popular game. I love playing. And also, realizing that what happened a few years ago with getting injured, to be out here for this year is what’s really important for me. You can say ‘I want to do this and this and this,’ but at the same time you are not guaranteed anything. You’re not guaranteed that I’ll start the season. You’re not guaranteed that I’ll make it through the next day of practice. When you look out and see the kind of physical nature that this sport is, nobody’s guaranteed anything. Enjoy what we have. Enjoy the practices, the games, and that’s something that I have to relish everyday because we’re certainly not guaranteed anything.
Q: (On last season and the emphasis for this season)
TB: Last year was a disappointment for all of us and we put a lot into playing at home and playing well at home and being a team that doesn’t commit a lot of turnovers or stupid plays. That’s kind of the downfall of what happened to us. It’s been a big point of emphasis in the spring going into the season – eliminating those types of mistakes. Coach was talking about turnovers this morning. Those things end up killing us. It’s long way from the start of the season. We probably have 40 practices. Guys are going to come. Guys are going to go. Guys are going to always get injured. How we are prepared for the opener…
Q: How about you coming off the injury and having that season. How would you evaluate that season for you?
TB: It’s hard to evaluate personally. We didn’t do what we needed to do. As the quarterback of the team, I take a lot of responsibility for that. I’m taking a lot of responsibility to get it right this year. No one really cares about what happened. You either win or you lose. This game is all about winning.
Q: Expectations are down just a little bit this year.
TB: From who?
Q: Maybe from the media. Does that free you up a little?
TB: I don’t give a damn, really. I don’t care what you guys think. I know what we think and what we think we can accomplish. What my dad thinks, I don’t really care about. What my mom thinks, I don’t care about, because they don’t know. The only guys who can do anything about it are the guys on this practice field. It feels pretty good to me what we are doing, what I see out here. We just have to continue to put the work in.
Q: A year ago, you were coming off an injury, coming off rehab. How do you feel now?
TB: I’m feeling good. I feel good. I’ve always tried to find ways in training to stay in good shape and keep my arm in good shape, and I’ve found different ways over the years to do that. Whether it was my knee or my back, I’m feeling pretty good.
Q: Wes Welker said that you helped him a little bit by giving him advice and all that. When you see him out here with the bags and everything else, how impressive is that knowing the time table that you went through and everything else?
TB: Wes is the toughest player I’ve ever been around. He’s all heart. When you are his size, he’s had to fight his whole career. Nothing really surprises me with him. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever played with. It’ll be really fun when he gets back out here with us because it adds a whole different dimension to the offense when he’s out there.
Q: How much do you miss Logan Mankins? Are you concerned about that situation?
TB: Logan has been a great player for this team and a great representative of the organization. He’s a great player. We miss him, there’s no doubt. He’s a good friend of all the guys on this team. He’s got a lot of fans in the locker room. We’re hoping that at some point this situation gets resolved, but in the meantime, we’ve got to go out there and do our job.
Q: Have you spoken with him?
TB: Yeah. I’m not really going to share that with you guys.
Q: (On the Patriots receivers and tight ends)
TB: [There are] a lot of guys and they all kind of do something different. Who knows how it’s all going to piece together, but there’re a lot of different skill sets out there – some fast guys, some quick guys, some short guys, some big guys. It’s nice. You can really mix it up. Add that to the tight end group [and] there’re a lot of different guys who can make plays out there. It’s been fun. You feel like you’ve got a lot of guys that can do something with the ball.
Q: How do you get comfortable with them?
TB: You’ve got to keep it simple enough for everyone, so that they are confident in what they are doing. I wouldn’t say that we have the easiest offense for receivers or tight ends to learn. A lot of teams probably have it a lot easier than we do. Just making sure that those guys know what they are doing so we can go out and execute at 100 percent, rather than them being unsure or indecisive because that’s when you get into problems. If they know what they can do and they know what they are doing at ball snap and they are doing at full speed, it’s a real good [thing].