FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Addressing reporters for the first time since opting not to pursue further appeals of his four-game suspension in the “Deflategate” saga, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady called it a personal decision and said he is trying to move on.
The four-time Super Bowl winner spoke to the media Friday at New England’s training camp. He is allowed to practice with the team and play in the Patriots’ preseason games but will miss the first four regular-season games.
“I tried to come out here and just focus on what I need to do to get better and help our team,” he said. “I’ll be excited to be back when I’m back, and I’ll be cheering our team on, hoping they can go out and win every game.”
Brady was suspended for his role in the use of deflated footballs in the 2014 AFC championship win over Indianapolis. He initially won a court appeal, but that was overturned, and Brady chose not to continue the legal fight.
The 39-year-old led the league with 36 touchdown passes last season. He must be away from the team beginning Sept. 3, the day of final cuts, and can return on Oct. 3, the day after the Patriots’ fourth game of the season, against AFC East rival Buffalo. The first game for which Brady will be eligible is Oct. 9 at Cleveland.
The suspension will snap his streak of 126 consecutive games played — 112 in the regular season and 14 playoff games.
Asked if it was a difficult decision not to pursue legal avenues to dismiss the suspension imposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Brady replied:
“I think it’s just personal and I’ve tried to move on from it so I try to, like I said, focus on the positive and being out here with my teammates and getting better. I don’t want to go out and do anything but try to be a great example for your teammates, and we’ve got a lot of competitive guys that are down here on the practice field, and I think that’s where the focus needs to be.”
Brady cited the support he’s received from the Patriots, his family and fans throughout the process. He would not say if he was angry at Goodell for the punishment.
“I have a job to do and I try to approach it the best way I can,” Brady said. “I’ve always tried to do things the same way and every day’s important to me. Certainly, as someone who’s been around here a long time, I know I’ve got to bring it every day, and I think I just try to go out there and lead by example, try to bring it and show my teammates that I’m ready to go mentally and physically every day.”
Brady would not say whether the suspension has changed the way he’s preparing in training camp. He seemed especially vocal during the morning practice session, an intrasquad scrimmage.
“Honestly, I’m just trying to be as good as I can be every day,” he said. “And I think that making improvements in certain areas, and we’ve tried to make them when they changed our offense. And we’ve got a lot of new players on the team and we’re just trying to incorporate them. So I feel like we’re building toward something. And we’ve got a lot of meaningful preseason games coming up that we have to see some improvements in, and we’ve got a lot of practices left. It’s a long season, so it’s just going to be a lot of hard work and discipline and effort, and like I said, I’m going to go out and do the best that I can do.”
Brady said he is trying not to think about what it will be like to be away from his team. He would not say how he plans to spend his time away from the Patriots.
“I try to just be as positive as I can be,” he said. “I think that’s kind of always been my motto. I know over the course of my career I’ve been faced with different things and tried to overcome them the best way I could or the best way I knew how and I’ll try to do the same thing.”
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