FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady just wants to talk about football. The Jets won't let him.
The latest: Jets corner Antonio Cromartie called the Patriots quarterback an expletive.
"I've been called worse," Brady said. "I'm sure there's a long list of people who feel that way. (Coach Bill) Belichick's called me that, and my offensive coordinator calls me that. I know they like me, so maybe he really likes me."
Cromartie made his comment Tuesday to New York's Daily News and didn't back off Wednesday although he said he has never met Brady.
"Why should I regret it? That's how I feel," he said. "As long as I'm in the NFL and he's in the NFL, there's going to be a hatred."
Jets coach Rex Ryan previously opened his bulging playbook of colorful remarks by throwing verbal jabs at Brady.
Last week, he said "nobody" studies like Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. Brady, Ryan said, "thinks he does" but gets more help from Belichick than there is with Manning. Brady acknowledged he gets "a ton" of help from his coach.
Saturday night, during the Patriots' bye week, Brady attended the Broadway play Lombardi about Green Bay's legendary coach Vince Lombardi and missed part of the Jets' 17-16 win over the Colts. Ryan said on Monday, with a grin, that "Manning would have been watching our game."
He also said that day that Brady "took a shot at me by his antics on the field" during the Patriots' 45-3 win on Dec. 6.
Did he mean Brady pointed at the Jets' sideline or looked at them after scoring?
"I don't like seeing that. Nobody does," Ryan said. "No Jet fan likes to see that. And I know he can't wait to do it. He's not going to say anything publicly."
He's right about that.
"It's certainly not my intent. I'm sure there's 50,000 cameras on the game. If I did that I'm sure, they'd show it," Brady said, sounding innocent. "I don't think I've ever pointed at anybody. That's not my style."
Even if he did rub it in by gesturing to the New York sideline, it could have been prevented — by the Jets themselves, linebacker Jason Taylor said.
"I come from the school of thought where if you don't want someone to celebrate or be excited or say something to you or do something that you might perceive as offensive, then don't let them score," he said.
Cromartie said he hopes Brady tries to pick on him Sunday for his remark.
But is there a line that can be crossed that goes beyond trash-talking?
"I'm sure there is," Belichick said.
And what is that?
"I don't know," he said. "In my mind right now, it's the New York Jets Sunday at 4:30."
Might all the jabbering have an effect on the Patriots' performance then?
"We'll see on Sunday night at 7:30," Brady said. "That's when everybody will be able to tell whether it played a role or not."
Ryan keeps saying he respects Brady as a player but won't punish Cromartie for using a nasty word.
"We don't have to be all lovey-dovey and say he's the greatest thing since sliced bread," Ryan said.
"We have a right to our opinion. And a comment like that, it's no big deal."