FOXBORO, Mass. — Going into his 14th NFL season, Tom Brady has been in the league longer than anyone else on the Patriots roster. At 35 years old, the quarterback is one of only two New England players who were born in the 1970s.
Those two facts may make most people feel old. But while Brady is no spring chicken compared to his rookie season in 2000, he doesn’t necessarily feel like the senior most make him out to be. In fact, he says he’s never felt better.
“I think over the years I’ve actually learned to take care of myself a little bit better, so this is the best I’ve ever felt,” Brady told reporters before Monday’s practice at Gillette Stadium. “I’ve never felt any better than I have at this point, so I’m excited.
“Mentally I said I think I’m a mature 22-year old. It’s fun, you know you’re in an environment like this with so many young players and young teammates, so finding ways to interact with them is probably the most challenging experience.”
While Brady may not necessarily feel old on the practice field, there was one good reason for the quarterback to feel that way Monday, as his former teammate Tedy Bruschi was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. Bruschi, who retired after the 2008 season, becomes the third of Brady’s former teammates to don the red jacket, following in the footsteps of Drew Bledsoe and Troy Brown.
“Yeah, well he’s a little bit older than me, so he’s got a few years on me,” Brady said. “Hopefully I’m doing this for a long time and seeing a lot more guys go into the Hall of Fame. I’ve had a bunch of teammates go in, so it’s pretty cool to see. You remember the contribution they made, and coach [Bill] Belichick always talks to the younger players [about] guys like Troy Brown and Tedy Bruschi, Rodney [Harrison]‘s going to be here tonight.
“I was fortunate to be able to play with those guys and learn from those guys, so hopefully I can take on some of the things that they taught me and pass those on to the younger guys that I play with. The exposure that I had to those great players when I was a young player was huge in my development.”
And Bruschi was at the top of the list.
“Tedy is a great player; he brought so much enthusiasm to our locker room, to our team,” Brady said. “He had a very unique personality, a very highly motivated person that had a great work ethic and was a great leader, especially for the younger players. He was a great mentor to so many guys including myself. He’s one of my best friends; it’s really an exciting night for him. We’ve all had this circled on our calendar for a long time — since they announced it. It’s really a tribute to him, his family and his beautiful boys.”