HOUSTON: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Tuesday he is not thinking about personal glory as he prepares for a seventh Super Bowl and a chance to become the most decorated quarterback in history.
The 39-year-old can surpass his boyhood idol Joe Montana and Pittsburgh Steelers great Terry Bradshaw if he secures a fifth Super Bowl victory in Sunday’s showdown with the Atlanta Falcons in Houston.
But Brady, who shrugged off a four-game “Deflategate” suspension at the start of the season to produce some vintage performances en route to the Super Bowl, says he has not given any thought to his place in the quarterback pantheon.
“I don’t think anything about, you know, ‘personal legacy,’” Brady told reporters on Tuesday.
“Those words never even come out of my mouth unless I’ve repeated them. Those things have never been important to me.”
Amongst his legions of admirers, Brady will lay claim to being the greatest quarterback of all time if he notches his fifth Super Bowl on Sunday. Some argue he already deserves that accolade.
Brady, however, insists he is still pinching himself at way his career has unfolded after a relatively inauspicious beginning.
He was famously only signed by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, the 199th pick.
Brady, 39, arrived at the Patriots as the fourth choice quarterback before famously working his way up the roster and into the starting position after Drew Bledsoe was injured against the New York Jets in September 2001.
The following February, Brady led the Patriots to an upset Super Bowl win over the St. Louis Rams in New Orleans.
“I never thought I’d be at this point in my life,” Brady said Tuesday. “I never thought I’d play professional football. Didn’t think I’d play any professional sports.”
No looking back
“Of course I had dreams and hopes like a lot of kids. But never could imagine that I’d be sitting here after 17 years doing this.
“There’s no time for me to look back. There’s so much going on. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I still want to keep playing.
“After this game, I’ll probably take a week or two off and then get back to work. And I’d love to go back to work after winning this game. It will make the off-season a lot more enjoyable.”
As the only ever-present in the seven Patriots sides to reach the Super Bowl under coach Bill Belichick, Brady is reluctant to draw comparisons across the generations.
The common thread, though, has been mental resilience.
“All those teams have been so different,” Brady said. “Coach talks about mental toughness and I think that’s probably the best trait for any team. Whatever is going on on the outside, put it away and focus on what your task is.
“Coach does a great job of keeping us focused every day. Every day is an important day in his mind. He says to us every day ‘Alright guys—this is a big day.’ And he means it.
“Whether it’s the Wednesday of Super Bowl week or a Wednesday in April, it’s all part of the building process to get to this point.”
Brady said Belichick’s famously hardline approach had shown no sign of softening over the years.
“He’s as consistent today as he has ever been,” Brady said. “I actually thought when he was younger he was a little more lenient. But now he’s very firm in what he believes.
“There’s no wiggle room with the players. “He expects a lot from us, on the field and off the field, and we don’t want to disappoint him.”