FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP) - Tom Brady cheered from the sideline as his undrafted teammate sped by for a 52-yard gain.
Coach Bill Belichick and several players stood nearby, expressionless. After all, it was just an exhibition game. But the two-time Super Bowl MVP shouted, “Go! Go! Go!,” raising his fist high on the final “Go!”
Four days later, Brady stopped by the sideline at the New England Patriots practice. He kissed his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen. He held 8-month-old Benjamin Rein Brady behind metal bleachers and planted several kisses on his forehead. Then he played catch with his other son, 3-year-old Jack.
One day the 33-year-old quarterback with the enthusiasm of a kid is rooting for Darnell Jenkins, whose catch and run led to the winning field goal in a 27-24 win over the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 13.
Then he’s a loving husband and father.
It’s a balancing act: intense competitor and devoted family man. Brady seems to be pulling it off, even as some critics say that, in his 11th season and with more responsibility than just winning games, his intensity and dedication to football has waned.
“He’s still one of the first ones here, last ones to leave,” said center Dan Koppen, one of Brady’s close friends and also the father of a young son. “He’s really the leader on this team, regardless of how many kids or whatever the situation is at home.”
Home, for much of the past offseason, was California.
That’s where his Jack lives with his mom, actress Bridget Moynahan. It’s where Brady is building a 22,000-square foot house with a six-car garage _ and cardio and weight room, of course _ near the home of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. And it’s where Benjamin was baptized in June.
It’s also where Brady and Wes Welker worked out together in the offseason, at UCLA, while the wide receiver recovered from surgery for a knee injury similar to the one that ended Brady’s 2008 season in the first game. Brady trained in California more than in previous years and lost his prized parking spot with the shortest walk into Gillette Stadium that goes to the most dedicated players at voluntary workouts there.
But he reported to training camp on time and in shape and was impressive during exhibition games.
“One thing I know about Brady is there’s an edge to him … that nothing can take away,” said Saints fullback Heath Evans, Brady’s teammate from 2005-08, “I do believe that Tommy’s perspectives have changed.
“I think he’s going to fall into one of those guys who will never be willing to sacrifice a wife or a child for a game,” Evans said, but “the motivation that that guy has to be the best (is outstanding). … Guys are born that way. They’re born with that tenacity and a child or wife doesn’t change that.”
At work, it’s clear that the sixth-round draft pick of 2000, a guy who worked hard just to make the team, hasn’t lost his passion.
After his teammates left practice on a blazing hot day, Brady stayed to throw short passes to rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez. At another practice, he jumped to bump bodies with Rob Gronkowski, also a promising first-year tight end, after a touchdown pass.