CHANDLER, Ariz. — Tom Brady isn’t playing against the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday. He’s playing against his legacy.

That’s what many will have you believe as the New England Patriots prepare for Super Bowl XLIX, and frankly, it’s a bunch of hooey — but that discussion is for another day.

Brady was asked multiple times Monday night what a fourth Super Bowl ring would mean to him. Brady, never one to get ahead of himself, didn’t directly discuss the matter, but he did get emotional when discussing his sixth Super Bowl trip, shaking his head at the mere idea of it.

“To have an opportunity to play in this game is really unbelievable,” Brady said. “I never thought I’d have the experience to play in one of these. To think that it’s my sixth time, is, I can’t imagine that that was ever — I didn’t think I’d ever play anything professionally. Certainly to make it to the Super Bowl is a pretty amazing experience to do once, and six times, it’s very, very special.”

Brady, of course, already should be considered one of the all-time greats. He has three Super Bowl titles, gaudy stats, tons of wins and plenty of skill left in his 37-year-old body. Apparently some are waiting for a fourth Super Bowl ring to christen him among the best, however.

“It’s very flattering any time you’re mentioned with great players and guys that I idolized growing up,” Brady said. “I don’t ever see myself on that level. I can be a pretty tough critic on myself.

“I respect all the guys that have played this game before. I understand how challenging it is to play the position. There’s a lot of guys that do it at a high level currently. There’s a lot of guys who have played it at a really high level in the past. I have a lot of respect for those guys and what they’ve been able to accomplish. Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana won four. A couple guys have won three, Troy Aikman’s won three, so it’s tough to do it every year.

“Everyone starts at the bottom, and everyone’s trying to claw their way to the top, and there’s a lot of attrition that sets in. It’s a tough challenge, it’s a tough journey, and to be one of the last two teams is a great accomplishment. Only one of the two teams is going to feel good this time next week, so I hope we’re that team.”

Brady didn’t answer any questions regarding the Patriots’ DeflateGate controversy. Owner and CEO Robert Kraft gave the Patriots quarterback full support in a statement prior to Brady’s news conference.

Thumbnail photo via Mark Humphrey/Associated Press