During an interview with Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Brady stopped short of directly addressing the Hernandez murder charge when asked about it. He did, however, say he has left it in the past.
“I’ve seen a lot of things over 13 years, and what I have learned is that mental toughness and putting aside personal agendas for what’s in the best interest of the team matters most,” Brady said. “My job is to play quarterback, and I’m going to do that the best way I know how, because I owe that to my teammates regardless of who is out there on the field with me.
“I have moved on. I’m focusing on the great teammates I have who are committed to helping us win games. The only thing I care about is winning. Nothing is going to ever get in the way of that goal. I’m just excited to report to camp and see what we can accomplish as a team. The fate of our season will be determined by the players in our locker room—nothing else.”
Those who have followed the Patriots and Brady’s career should not have expected him to say any more than that. Hernandez was one of the best players New England had in 2012, but he’s no longer a member of the team. Bill Belichick, who will say essentially the same thing as Brady during his press conference on Wednesday, has always made sure to keep the focus on the players currently on his roster.
In non-Hernandez news, Brady told King he feels like he can continue to play in the NFL beyond the age of 40.
“The way I feel now, it’s beyond 40,” he said. “I have a lot of goals, and I am in this for the long haul. I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Whether the team wants me, or whether something [like an injury] happens tomorrow to stop me from playing, that remains to be seen. But my training, my nutrition, the bodywork I do—I can’t see not playing at any time in the near future. There’s nothing I love to do more.”
Players come and go within every football organization. It’s not often that one of them leaves because of a murder charge, but the concept for the Patriots remains the same. Hernandez was a luxury last season when healthy. He has nothing to do with the Patriots’ on-field product in 2013.