He remains the focal point even as something of an elder statesman in the sport. Most Sundays, or Mondays or Thursdays, he’s the best player on the field in football’s most important position.
“Those are things I certainly don’t take for granted,” he says. “It’s a responsibility I really take and understand, and I expect to the best every time I’m out here for this team. I’ve been around for longer than anyone else on this team. I’ve been around some great teams and I can see the attitude of great teams. I can see the work ethic of great teams and that’s what I try to encourage.
“That’s part of my role as a leader, as a captain, as a veteran, as a quarterback. I try to show up every day and encourage the younger players who haven’t been a part of those (teams), so hopefully we don’t have to go through growing pains. (They) can listen and say, `Wow, Tom, you are right. You’re not just screaming at me for (no) reason.’ `’
The blemishes on his resume stem from the two Super Bowl losses to the Giants, games in which he often seemed uncomfortable or pressing. They probably should be bigger blemishes on Belichick’s resume because of how he and his staff were outcoached by Tom Coughlin and his assistants.
But these Patriots seem eminently capable of reversing those results should they get to New Orleans in February. Their running game hasn’t been this good in years. The defense, minus any stars other than nose tackle Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo, has steadily improved this season. Special teams are solid.
And if they sneak off with home-field advantage in the playoffs _ they are one game behind Houston in the AFC, tied with Denver, and have beaten both _ it will be difficult to rate anyone ahead of the Patriots.
Brady doesn’t deal with such potential scenarios.
“That’s a hypothetical,” he says of any questions seeking his prognostications. “We don’t answer hypotheticals at the Patriots. Belichick would stand up here and say, `You moron. Why would you answer a hypothetical question like that?’ `’
As in the last decade-plus, the Patriots will answer any questions on the field.
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