Brady eyes new season, ready to move on from 'Deflategate'

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 09, 2015 5:15 PM

By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) - With the most turbulent offseason of his glittering National Football League career now behind him, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is eager to return his complete focus to the field and chase a fifth Super Bowl title.

Brady will start for the Patriots in the NFL's season opener on Thursday exactly one week after a federal judge threw out his four-game suspension for his alleged role in a scheme to deflate footballs used in a January playoff victory.

"It's obviously been a long seven months for everybody, but I think now the goal is to focus on what my job is and what I need to go out there and do to help our team win," said Brady.

"Everything that's happened over the past seven months, obviously I have a lot of personal feelings, but I really don't care to share many of those.

"I really care to think about what I need to do going forward. We've got a lot of guys in this locker room who worked really hard to get to this point, and so have I, and I'm excited to be able to go out there and do it."

The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots will be thin at wide receiver when the 2015 season kicks off due to injuries to some key players but with Brady under center they will not be taken lightly by any opponents.

Injuries to preferred targets Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell will force Brady, 38, to make early adjustments following a preseason in which New England's offense looked unimpressive.

But when the Patriots open the season at home versus the Pittsburgh Steelers many expect Brady to quickly rediscover the form that has made him one of the game's most prolific passers.

Brady joined Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw and boyhood idol Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks with four Super Bowl rings when he led New England to a thrilling victory over the Seattle Seahawks in last season's championship game.

DEALING WITH FALLOUT

However, his entire offseason was then spent dealing with fallout from accusations that he knew of a scheme to deflate footballs used in a game last season that put the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Still, Brady he was hesitant to say if the "Deflategate" saga, which is still not over since the NFL appealed the order vacating his four-game suspension, hindered his ability to recharge during the offseason.

"You've got to always figure out a way to overcome different obstacles you face, and part of it is being mentally tough, and part of it is compartmentalizing things and dealing with things when they're really kind of at the forefront," said Brady.

"And then when they're not, you've got to put them someplace else and think about what your job is.

"I think that's a lot of what I've learned over the years playing this position, and certainly any time you're someone that's in the public eye like I am, you deal with different things."

Had Brady been forced to sit out the first four games of the season, the Patriots said they would not have unveiled the 2014 season's championship banner until their quarterback was back in the lineup.

Any alternate plans have since been scrapped as Brady will be on the field in his No. 12 Patriots jersey when the team raise their first Super Bowl banner in 10 years.

"It hasn't happened in a long time. I think our guys are excited, but I think mostly we've got to focus on what our job is, and that's to put that celebration behind us and move forward into a new year because it's different challenges, different teams, different schedule

"Any time you're in a situation like we're in, we know that we're going to get everybody's best," said Brady.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)