FOXBOROUGH — No, Tom Brady confirmed Thursday, he’s still not thinking about retirement.
Brady posted on Instagram earlier this week, “Treat my first like my last, and my last like my first,” but he said he wasn’t announcing the end of his football career.
“That’s a Jay-Z song,” Brady explained. “I just like the lyric. It’s a general appreciation for every year you’ve got to come out and you’ve got to earn it. I don’t think anyone relies on what I’ve done last year or 19 years ago. I think it’s about what I can do for this team this year.”
Speaking to reporters for the first time all spring, Brady had a few issues he wanted to clear up after the Patriots’ third and final minicamp practice.
He said the “Tom Terrific” flap with fans of Tom Seaver was just a misunderstanding, that he actually hates the nickname, and wanted to trademark it only to prevent people from using it with his likeness.
And Brady explained why he has stayed away from the Patriots’ voluntary workouts this spring for the second straight year. His answer this year was the same as it was last year: It’s about family and time commitments.
He participated in three days of mandatory minicamp this week, but otherwise skipped the seven weeks of voluntary workouts at Gillette Stadium.
Brady made it sound as if he and his wife have a deal: The fall is Brady’s time, but the spring is Gisele’s and the family’s time.
“My wife is a very ambitious woman, and she travels a lot,” Brady said. “Just trying to divide some responsibility at home. She supports me a lot, my family supports me a lot, and my kids aren’t getting any younger.
“So just trying to spend the time with them when I can, and still get done the things I need to get done and be ready to go when it’s time to go.”
Even though Brady hasn’t been in Foxborough for most of the spring, he has still been putting in his work with trainer Alex Guerrero, whether it’s at UCLA or somewhere on a beach or at home in Brookline. No one is concerned about Brady being in good shape to start training camp in July.
“I try to work hard to put my body in the best position possible to withstand the hits and make all the throws, and I feel like I’m in a good place right now,” Brady said. “When things are good emotionally, mentally, physically, I think that puts you in a great position to play your best football.”
Brady said he doesn’t necessarily need to be at the Patriots’ offseason workouts to help teach the offense to his new teammates.
“We have coaches that do all the teaching,” he said. “I sit in the meetings like everyone else, trying to learn something, apply something, bring it to the field.”
But Brady did make sure to get in some extra one-on-one time with first-round pick N’Keal Harry this offseason. Since he wasn’t going to voluntary workouts, he invited Harry to come work out with him a few weekends ago.
“It’s important to get out there and kind of replicate what we’re trying to do out here,” Brady said. “It takes time to forge relationships, but you do it through a lot of repetition and a lot of communication.”
The Patriots are counting on Harry to help replace the production lost from Rob Gronkowski, Josh Gordon, and Chris Hogan, but it was pretty obvious through three days of minicamp that Brady and Harry aren’t quite on the same page yet. That’s not unusual with rookies and the Patriots offense, and Brady seemed to be defending his new rookie receiver Thursday.
“Like anyone, he’s working,” Brady said. “I always say when someone’s 22, in some ways it’s a disservice the way they get treated, because everyone expects them to come in and just take what they did in college and replicate it in the pros. And in reality it’s a totally different game, and it’s really hard to get acclimated to these environments.”
This spring was an unusual one for Brady, in that he doesn’t have Gronkowski as a teammate for the first time in a decade. He lamented the loss of his friend, and was looking forward to catching up with Gronk at Thursday night’s Super Bowl ring ceremony, but he said the Patriots have no choice but to move on without him.
“Like any season, things are different, and we’re going to have to adjust,” Brady said. “That’s got to be a position of strength, even if it’s multiple players doing different roles. No one’s going to make any excuses for our offense. The tight end position is a big part of our offense.”
Brady declined to say much about his contract situation. He will be a free agent in 2020, and while he has never played through a contract year without getting an extension, he said he isn’t worried about it getting done.
“I think those things work themselves out,” he said. “I’ve never really talked about my contract or anything like that. I don’t want to start now.”
Lastly, Brady reiterated that he hopes to play several more seasons, though he left himself some wiggle room in case he does ride off after 2019, his 20th NFL season.
“The reality is this year is the most important one, and that’s the one I’m focusing on,” Brady said. “I hope there’s a lot of football beyond this, but it’s a contact sport, and I don’t think you can take those things for granted.”