TAMPA ― First things first. How are you feeling physically, Tom Brady?
It’s been a year since Bucs quarterback Tom Brady had surgery to repair the MCL tear in his left knee that he suffered during the 2019 season with the Patriots.
Brady, who retired and then unretired over the past few months, insists he’s been able to do a lot more to prepare for the 2022 season, including some sprint work to help with his mobility.
“(It’s been) a lot different,” Brady said Wednesday during a conference call with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, his partner in “The Match” golf event June 1 in Las Vegas (to be televised on TNT). “Last year was pretty tough, just from basically having the MCL reconstruction, and I basically tore it in my last season in New England and I went the whole offseason with a torn MCL. I didn’t get a reconstruction, because I thought it would just heal back. So I didn’t do anything. The following year, I just taped it, basically, every day. And then finally getting it reconstructed last year, it felt for the first time this offseason, it’s been really good.
“It’s been fun just to kind of, you know, run around a little bit. Work on some sprinting stuff. I know Aaron has probably rushed for more yards in a game than I have my whole career. But for me, it’s been kind of interesting to be able to train in certain ways. Like, a single leg jump. I haven’t done a single leg jump in I don’t know how many years, because I couldn’t do it because I never wanted my knee to be unweighted, because it was just kind of wiggling around. It’s been good this year to do it.
“Contrary to what Aaron said the other night, I haven’t been practicing,” Brady continued. “I’ve got some stuff planned this weekend coming up. You said the other day that I’ve been practicing with my shoulder pads on and my helmet.”
“Why haven’t you been practicing? I don’t understand?” Rodgers asked. “Why haven’t you been practicing?”
Brady responded, ‘Why haven’t you been practicing?”
A moment passed before he added, ‘’Exactly.”
It’s the third year Brady will be competing in “The Match,” and he is 0-2. He and Phil Mickelson lost to Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning in 2020. Last year, Brady and Mickelson were on the wrong end of a contest with Rodgers and Bryson DeChambeau.
This year, there will be no PGA gofers. Instead, Brady and Rodgers will team up to play the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the Bills’ Josh Allen.
“It was okay losing to Tiger and Payton in ‘The Match 1,’” Brady said. “That was a tough day. Losing to Aaron and Bryson last year, that one hurt, man. I was not expecting that. Thankfully, I think I got the best half of that team as my partner this time around, so if he plays anything like he did last time, I guarantee you we’re going to be 1-2, which I’ve got to get off this losing trend that I’m on. But my guy has got to come through. We don’t have anyone to save the day. It’s he and I out there alone. We got to go make it happen.”
Other highlights from the call:
• Brady said he couldn’t see himself pairing with a rival quarterback such as Manning when they were AFC rivals years ago.
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“It was a different era,” he said. “I think it’s so much easier for people to get in touch now. I think you develop a lot of friendships over FaceTime or social media as opposed to we didn’t have that when I started. In 2000, there was no way to get a hold of someone except to see them once in the offseason and make a phone call.
“Now, I feel like everyone is pretty friendly with one another, and I suppose that’s a good thing. I think it’s a challenging thing, too. I think it’s tough to be friends with people you’re trying to go at. I see that a lot on the PGA golf tour. I think there are a lot of good friends. I don’t think Tiger was great friends with anyone for a long time. I don’t think Jack Nicklaus was friends with anyone he was competing against.
“Every time we play the Packers, we want to kick their butt, and I think it’s vice versa. I think the more I feel an affinity toward, the less intensity there is. Not necessarily the quarterbacks, who are on the other side of the ball. I always try to buddy up with the defensive players who are trying to kill me. It’s a little better if they hit you and they know you like them. Like, Michael Strahan, now a friend and business partner. Guys take care of you. Dwight Freeney, who was always in the background of Aaron’s screen right there, that was a guy I always tried to be friends with.”
• Without any PGA players, it will be a more challenging event.
“For me, definitely,” Rodgers said. “You know, first hole last year, Bryson hits it about 390 down the middle and I chunk the 60 degree, and he chipped in for birdie. So I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to be okay.’”
“Don’t expect that from me, partner,” Brady said.
“I’m not carrying us. We’ve got to pull this thing together,” Rodgers said. “This is going to be interesting, for sure. I actually didn’t know — I loved being a part of it last year — that I was a yes before I realized what the format was going to be. When they said it was me and Tommy, I said, ‘Whoa. Hope he’s practicing.’
“I asked, ‘Are there caddies out there? Is there anyone that can help us?’ He said, ‘Nope, you guys are totally on your own.’”
• On trash-talking:
“Last year, there wasn’t a lot of great trash talk,” Rodgers said. “Bryson had way too much stuff prepared and Phil, it just didn’t really land in my opinion. Again, let me just remind you that Tom and I, we’re from the old era. He’s a little bit older than I am. Played a few more years. But what he said earlier was true. When he started, definitely when he started and when I started, there was actual, real trash talk.... Now it’s more buddy-buddy. Social media, following each other. Memes. . ... And it’s not the same.”
• Brady went after Allen a bit.
“Josh really hasn’t backed much up on the football field, let’s be honest,” Brady said. “Especially playing against me. I would just say it’s going to look like the way it’s looked for a long time against him. And Patrick, although he’s played a lot of great games, he didn’t win any important ones.”
Brady, on one of the best golfers he’s encountered in football:
“Clyde Christensen is a great golfer. A sneaky great golfer, because he doesn’t look very athletic because he’s kind of round right now. He’s a little heavy. The centrifugal force, it kind of gets around his belly, which I’m on him for. But he’s actually a pretty good golfer. We’ve got a little putting mat in our quarterback room. And Peyton is kind of scrappy good, in his own way.”
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