FOXBORO, Mass. — There was no friendly banter and nary a smile from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as he addressed the media Wednesday in the bowels of Gillette Stadium.
Brady was stone-faced and tight-lipped during the roughly seven-minute news conference — the first of two he’s scheduled to hold ahead of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game — offering brief responses to most of the 13 questions the assembled reporters hurled his way.
He was particularly terse when asked why some around the NFL view the Patriots as “a–holes” — the word Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin used to describe them in Antonio Brown’s secretly recorded Facebook Live video.
“I’m not sure,” Brady said. “I don’t know.”
Brady, whose voice sounded a bit raspier than usual, later was asked if he was feeling under the weather.
“I’m good,” he responded.
So why the shift in mood? Perhaps the QB simply was laser-focused on this weekend’s AFC title game, the 11th of Brady’s career and the Patriots’ sixth in the last six seasons. They’ll take on a star-studded Steelers squad that breezed past the Miami Dolphins in the wild-card round and edged the Kansas City Chiefs on the road in the divisional round.
New England knocked off the Houston Texans 34-16 in the divisional round despite playing uncharacteristically sloppy football much of the first half.
“We have to play our best game of the year,” Brady said. “I think that’s what it comes down to. We’ve got to all do whatever it takes to be at our best for those three hours on Sunday night. (The Steelers) put a lot of pressure on you in a lot of areas. They’re tough to prepare for. We’re going to have to just rise to the occasion.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images