Tom Brady emerges from shadows of offseason; Brian Cushing stigma
Tom Brady discusses his offseason priorities, new teammates, Jets
LenDale White raises some eyebrows in Quotes of the Week
Thoughts on Brian Cushing's suspension in 10 Things I Think
The disgrace of two former New Jersey heroes and one from LSU headlined the week -- and yes, I believe any award or postseason honor, including rookie of the year, should be stripped if a player tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance, as apparently is the case with defensive rookie of the year Brian Cushing of the Houston Texans. But I'm not leading with bad news. I'm leading with Tom Brady breaking his offseason silence to discuss his bi-coastal life, hopes for his team, a charity he is very bullish on and how much his world has spun in the past few years.
"Life changes,'' he said from California Saturday morning -- at a very dad-like time of 8 a.m. Pacific -- while watching his sons. "You've got to be able to change with it.''
Brady tries to disappear in the offseason, which is difficult given his own star power and that of his wife, model Gisele Bundchen. He's bi-coastal now, living part-time in the Boston area and in Los Angeles, and we don't see him much other than through the prying eyes of the paparazzi. But he surfaced Saturday to talk for a half-hour because he wanted to promote a passion of his -- the 11th annual Audi Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port, a flag-football game (he'll be quarterbacking) at Harvard on June 4 and a bike ride from Boston to Cape Cod the next day.
Best Buddies is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit, now with 1,500 chapters nationwide, founded to encourage friendship and create employment opportunities for mentally handicapped people. The group helps to mainstream those with intellectual and developmental disabilities while helping them develop friendships that are often rare in their lives. Brady got involved from friendships with agent Brad Blank, who lived in his Boston neighborhood, and the group's founder, Anthony Shriver.
"I first did the ride nine years ago,'' Brady said. "I rode 40 miles with my sisters, and it was a great family event. I really liked the premise -- trying to build friendships for those less fortunate than we are. That was the premise, the importance of friendship. I think of the value of my friends in my life, and that's something some of these [mentally challenged] people don't have, based on something that was out of their control when they were born. It's just unfair. And this group does so much for them that I just wanted to do my part.''
This year his part will be the football game at Harvard and riding the next day, hoping to encourage people to donate to the cause. Brady is halfway toward his goal of getting supporters to donate $100,000 to Best Buddies through Team TB12 and hopes, obviously, to surpass his goal. To learn about the organization, and for ticket information for the Friday night flag football game, go to www.bestbuddies.org. I've gotten to know Brad Blank well over the years, and rarely do we have a conversation that doesn't include his passion for this organization. I wish them the best.
The Brady football headlines:
He will be back in Foxboro this morning to resume work in the Patriots' offseason program. But he's not been a regular in the program thus far. Brady used to win awards for his attendance and fervor in the offseason program, but he said he has spent two weeks in the program since it began in mid-March. File this under the "life changes'' category. The son he had with Bridget Moynahan, Jack, turns 3 in August. Benjamin Brady, his son with Bundchen, is 5 months old. Brady sounds like he'll be as much of a full-time dad as he can be while shuttling between Los Angeles and Boston.
He said he's healthy and able to work out harder this offseason than last, when he was recovering from knee surgery and a subsequent staph infection to the knee. "This is the best I've felt in a long, long time,'' he said. "Last year I was ready for the season, but this year I'm not doing rehab; I'm just getting ready as normal for the season.''
He said he's been throwing "quite often'' on the West Coast to a rehabbing Wes Welker, recovering from knee and rotator-cuff surgeries. He made no predictions about when Welker would be ready to play, and was unspecific about how much Welker is doing now. But Welker is only three months removed from major surgery to his knee and shoulder, so it'd be a shock to see him early in the season. "He was an undrafted free-agent and has had to work for anything he's ever gotten,'' Brady said. "So don't put anything past him.''
His solution to the Patriots' late-season slide, culminating in an embarrassing home playoff loss to Baltimore? "We've got to start listening more to coach [Bill] Belichick. We've got young kids who are good players. We've got the best football coach of all time. He's got the answers. We as a team have to take the teaching and the coaching we're being given.''
He's not down over the team not adding a significant running back or wide receiver (other than the aging Torry Holt and third-round pick Taylor Price) to a team that needs an offensive boost with Welker's status in doubt. "I like [2009 injured draft pick] Brandon Tate a lot, and Julian Edelman was so effective for us last year, plus having [free-agent] David Patten back is going to help. The two tight ends we drafted [Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez], from what I hear, are really good players,'' he said.
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