FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady’s last attempt at Super Bowl redemption last lasted less than 15 minutes.
The Patriots quarterback was injured in the first quarter of the 2008 regular season opener, seven months after the New York Giants beat New England in the Super Bowl. Now that he’s trying to shake the memory of another Super Bowl loss to the Giants, Brady is using that season as a lesson.
“I think one thing that my injury taught me a few years ago was how fragile this game is, and to be able to take the field every week is really a blessing,” Brady told reporters on Thursday after an one of the offseason organized team activities.
Losing the Super Bowl “is part of learning as a player,” Brady said. “Hopefully you get a chance to be in that position again. At this point, we try to move on and you try to look forward to what this season is going to be about. It’s a different group of players, different coaches, a little different system. You’re trying to put together a team here that can go out and compete every single week.”
Asked if he looks at things differently at 35 than he did at 25, Brady responded, a little too seriously: “I’m not 35.”
He turns 35 in August.
The Patriots went 16-0 in the 2007 regular season and made it 18-0 in the playoffs before the Giants came back to win in the Super Bowl with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including the one by Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds left. In the first quarter of the first game of the ’08 regular season, Brady blew out his knee and was gone for the year.
This February, New England again blew a fourth-quarter lead in the championship game, this time when Ahmad Bradshaw scored — uncontested — from 6 yards out with 57 seconds left.
Brady has already moved on.
“You don’t look back too much on the past and say, ‘What if? What if?’ You’d drive yourself crazy,” Brady said. “At some point, you have to put it in the past and move on.”
Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork said the loss has “no effect” on this season.
“You start back from where you started before, from zero. That’s where I’m at now,” he said. “You really can’t dwell over spoiled milk. Last year was last year, that’s how you have to look at it and keep rolling. You have to be a professional.”
Brady is hoping this season will end better, and the Patriots have stocked up his receiving corps to make it happen. The team signed free agents Donte’ Stallworth, Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney and re-signed Deion Branch and Wes Welker to go along with Julian Edelman and Chad Ochocinco.
“We’ve brought in quite a few guys,” Brady said. “Hopefully the mix of guys that we had last year along with the new guys can create some different options for us. It’s a very competitive position. All of our days of practice have been very competitive. … The more good players you have, the better team you’re going to be.”
Welker caught more passes than anyone else in the NFL last season but couldn’t come down with the one that might have clinched a win in the Super Bowl. He had been hoping for a long-term deal, but the Patriots used the franchise tag on him; he decided to sign the $9.5 million tender offer rather than hold out.
His teammates are glad to have him back.
“Everybody is different and you can’t fault anybody for handling their business. I’ll let Wes’ business be Wes’ business,” said Wilfork, who had contract issues of his own back in 2009. “He’s one of the best receivers in the game and coming off the year he had, he’s probably one of our best players and one of the best players around the league. I’m happy that he’s back rolling with us for at least another year.”
A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Welker led the NFL with 122 receptions and was second in the league with 1,569 yards receiving. Brady said he’d like Welker to finish his career with the Patriots.
“There are always contract situations and it’s not my contract situation so I don’t really comment,” Brady said. “I just try to support Wes and his role and what he’s asked to do. You see what kind of commitment he makes by coming out here and practicing. He’s always worked his tail off. I love having him out there with me and he’s one of my great friends. Hopefully everything works out.”
The Patriots worked out for the second week in a row, with one more of the practices called OTAs before minicamp in June. Thursday was Brady’s first general media availability, so he discussed everything from the team’s offseason moves to the suicide of teammate Junior Seau.
Brady said learning of Seau’s death had him thinking about the end of his own playing days.
“That transition, I’ve heard, is hard and we’ll all have to deal with it at some point. Hopefully we can deal with it as best as we know how. If we need help, we can seek it out,” Brady said. “Everyone had so much respect for him by the way that he approached the game, by the way that he approached life. He was a very good friend of mine. It was a very sad day. I’m sure it’s sad still for his family and for all his friends who really loved him so much.
“He’s certainly missed.”