He's had a continuous glow about him since last October when he rejoined the organization that drafted him with a second-round pick in 2002. He's got no complaints and has been loving life since reacquainting with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the rest of the New England organization.
"I feel good, man," Branch said. "Oh, man, I feel good, boss. I'm blessed. It's an honor just to be back here in the organization I started with. The foundation is still intact. It's a blessing. I'm just glad. I'm happy."
The 32-year-old doesn't have any retirement plans and isn't worried about the fact that he's in the last season of his contract. He just wants to ride it out and see what happens. At this point, he has already reached his goal of being in the NFL for 10 years, which he set out to do when entered the league.
"You know what, my thing was, I always said I want to play 10 years," Branch said. "I'm at 10 years now, and I still feel good. These young guys, they make me feel young. You know what I'm saying? The Lord blessed me to play this game. I'm going to play it until I can't compete anymore. So whatever that be, that's what I'm going to do. But I will say I'm not playing 17, 18 years. That's not going to happen. That part I will say."
Branch laughed at the notion that he could be one of those NFL lifers who never hangs it up, or has to get carted off the field after getting run down due to way too many years of physical abuse. He then got into his philosophy about career longevity and how he expects his career to run its course.
"I just think, overall, I'm going to compete," Branch said. "I know mentally if I want to do it, you put your mind to it and you'll be able to do it. As long as I want to go out and do this and do that. Once you stop having fun, you lose the love for the game, then you're pretty much done. I think guys who actually stop having fun but try to continue playing, that's a little different. Then you're fighting yourself. I'm always going to love the game of football, but there will come a time where, 'Hey, they're bringing in these younger guys. I can't get down the field. I can't get open like I used to.' Stuff like that. As long as I can continue to get open, compete, beat guys on things, I'm going to keep playing."
Branch mentioned being blessed over and over again throughout the conversation, and his sincerity has always been genuine. When he approved last season's trade, he shaved off $2.75 million from his 2011 base salary to put the Patriots in a better financial situation, and he was repaid by reinvigorating his career, which had been tailing off in Seattle.
So the wide receiver has continued to take it day by day. He doesn't have any long-term football plans, but he truly hopes they involve the Patriots. That's why he's not barking for a new contract, because he just wants to let the game happen the way it's been laid out for him.
"Trust me, you aren't going to hear any contract talk from me," Branch said with a laugh. "I'm good. I'm blessed. I'm thankful. This is where I want to be, and that's that. We're going to ride it out and see what happens from here."
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