FOXBORO - There are often moments of unintentional humor in pro football press conferences.
Take, for instance, Tom Brady's 7-minute, 38-second meeting with the New England media Thursday at Gillette Stadium. Brady was in hurry-up mode because it was the last day of practice before the Patriots will know the identity of their playoff opponent. Once the day's workout was done, the players were on their own for three days of rest and relaxation before serious preparation begins for the AFC divisional-round game at Gillette Stadium a week from Sunday.
As this is Brady's 13th year in the NFL and his 10th year participating in the playoffs, a reporter asked him if he appreciated the opportunity to compete in the postseason more than earlier in his career because, it's presumed, he's closer to the end of his career than its beginning.
Brady, 35, chose to take the time-frame reference to its extreme.
"I mean, from the day we're born, I think we're always one day closer to dying, since we're a little kid," he said with a straight face. "I don't quite look at it like that. Yeah, I'm very appreciative of having this opportunity."
Brady has competed in five Super Bowls and won three, and it's not surprising that a player of his level of accomplishment just can't get enough.
"It certainly is meaningful for me," he said. "I know it's meaningful for our whole team, what we're attempting to accomplish. Yeah, you don't take these things for granted. It's a privilege to be in this position that we're in and certainly one of four teams to have played well enough over the course of the year to deserve the first-round bye."
Brady also said that the past accomplishments, and their place in NFL history, will probably have more meaning to him once he's no longer playing. Right now, he doesn't have time to think about them.
"All that stuff, historically, I think you look back on some of the great seasons we've had and we'll enjoy those at some point," he said. "I don't think now is really the time. So much of our energy is focused on the short-term goals, which it should be and which it needs to be - certainly not much beyond that. I certainly owe that to my teammates, to be as prepared as I can be to be at my best. That's what I'm going to try to be."
Brady returned to the practice field Thursday after a day off, as did defensive end Rob Ninkovich and linebacker Dont'a Hightower, which gave the Patriots a full contingent at their last day of self-assessment before specific game-planning begins.
"Our coaches have given us a lot of things over the last couple days that we need to improve on and things we're working hard to get better at... things that have really showed over the course of the season," Brady said before the practice, conducted in frigid temperatures. "To have the opportunity to kind of evaluate where we're at with things has been really good for us. Hopefully we can use today's practice as a great way to get out there and try to accomplish some of the things that we talked about."
Once that was finished, it was expected that the majority of players were going to beat a hasty retreat out of town to decompress. But it's a good bet that most of them will be watching the wild-card games with plenty of interest.
"We'll be watching this weekend," Brady said. "You're still on high alert for football and situation awareness and watching the games and so forth. Your mind is still very much in the game. But when we figure out who we'll play, we'll jump right into that and get going."