FOXBOROUGH — At the conclusion of his most vocal — and best — practice of training camp Friday morning, Tom Brady broke his silence on why he decided not to take his four-game Deflategate suspension to the Supreme Court.
The Patriots quarterback said the decision was "personal" and that he will "be cheering our team on" during his absence. His suspension will begin Sept. 3 and run through Oct. 3; he will be the starter for the Week 5 matchup in Cleveland Oct. 9.
Brady was hit with the ban following the scandal that unfolded after New England's victory over Indianapolis in the AFC Championship game in 2014.
An NFL investigation found Brady culpable in a scheme to underinflate footballs in the Colts game. Brady appealed his punishment in court, where it was initially overturned. However, an appeals court reversed that ruling, and Brady eventually was left with no option but going to the Supreme Court. He announced in mid-July he would not do that.
The four-time Super Bowl champion said he has tried to put the scandal in the rear-view mirror.
"I've tried to move on from it,'' he said. "I try to just, like I said, focus on the positive, being here with my teammates and getting better. You don't want to go out and do anything but try to be a great example for your teammates. We've got a lot of competitive guys that have been out here on the practice field and I think that's where the focus needs to be.''
That's clearly where Brady's focus was Friday when the Patriots held an intrasquad scrimmage for the entire practice. Unofficially, Brady was a perfect 25 for 25 during the scrimmage as he led his Blue team to a 17-9 win over Jimmy Garoppolo's White team.
The 17-year veteran was animated from the get-go, cheering and chirping with teammates and at one point declared loudly from the sideline, "Everyone's making great plays today!"
Brady was asked if he has thought ahead to Weeks 1-4 and how tough it will be to be a spectator for the first time since 2008, when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the season opener.
"I've tried to just be as positive as I can be,'' he said. "I think that's kind of always been my motto. I know over the course of my career, I've been faced with different things and I've tried to overcome them the best way I could or the best way I knew how. I'll try to do the same thing.''
Brady sidestepped a question about whether he is still angry about the suspension and said he hasn't thought much about how he'll deal with his emotions once he is forced to leave Gillette Stadium.
"I'll deal with that when it comes,'' he said. "I could have a plan and then change the plan, I really don't know. I'm really focusing on every day and trying to get better. One of my coaches said, 'Look, you've just got to get better every day,' and that's where my focus has been.''
The 11-time Pro Bowler said he appreciated the support system he had in place during the controversy, which stretched for 544 days before Brady announced on Facebook that he was abandoning the fight.
"My family's been everything to me, and obviously, the support of my teammates and coaches, Mr. Kraft and Jonathan, the whole team and all our fans,'' he said. "I said the other night, I think we've got the best fans in the world, and we do. Hopefully we give them a lot of reasons to cheer this year.''
Despite Brady's animated presence over the last few practices — he looked more robotic earlier — he said the looming suspension has not affected how he's gone about his business
"I'm pretty much the same," he said. "I've been the same for a long time. I think it's just a way to elevate everybody's game. It's a very competitive team, it's a competitive sport. You've got to bring it mentally every day. You've got to have an attitude about you.''
"We have a lot of guys on this team that bring that. Trying to push their buttons, I love to do that, and they push it back. I think that gets the best out of everybody.''
Brady's teammates noticed the uptick in intensity during the scrimmage but nobody was surprised.
"Oh man, [his intensity] is contagious,'' said first-year Patriot Chris Hogan. "We're out here competing every single day and Tom was fired up and it got other guys fired up, and it really is, it's contagious.''
Matthew Slater, who spent some time as one of Brady's Blue team receivers, continues to be amazed by his longtime teammate.
"I think I've said it time and time again — probably the most competitive guy I've ever been on a team with,'' said Slater. "Doesn't matter what you're playing, he wants to win. And he takes it very seriously.
"Obviously today he wanted to go out and make plays, and when he's competing like that, it brings out the best in a lot of guys. So it's good for our football team.''
Jim McBride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.