On Wednesday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick spent 22 minutes addressing the Aaron Hernandez situation. A day later, quarterback Tom Brady faced the media for the first time to discuss Hernandez, who was charged with first-degree murder last month, and what it means for the 2013 New England Patriots.
"I think everyone had a certain range of emotions (when they heard the news about Hernandez), and those were really personal, and I've dealt with them," Brady began. "At some point you have to move forward, and I think we as a team are doing that.
"The best part is really coming out to start the football season and talk about the challenges we have ahead of us. And certainly, it's been a challenging offseason, but we're going to try to move forward as best we know how. ...
"It's a real-life situation that everyone has had to deal with," Brady continued. "Coach (Belichick) -- those team meetings that we have -- he always gives us a lot of information and that's part of his role as a head coach. As captains of the team, we take that information and do with it as we please. I think we're just excited to be here and, really, it's a fresh start for all of us. I know the last six weeks have been distracting for a lot of people.
"But I'd say for this team, we're focused on our job and what we have to do to come out and win football games. Certainly, it's a very tragic thing that happened and someone loses their life. But all of those things were out of the players' control here. We're not really apart of that situation so I don't think it does a lot for us to get involved here."
On Brady's emotions surrounding the Aaron Hernandez situation
"It's a terrible thing that happened. Look, in the city of Boston this year, what happened in the marathon, these are very terrible things that you wish never happen to anybody. There's a very human, compassionate element that we all have, and when it's someone that's been on our team, it's a very sad thing. I think that we, as a team, have tried to move forward with better awareness and understanding of these types of things. Hopefully, nothing like this happens again."
Brady on how the Patriots are moving forward as a team
"We've been away from each other pretty much this whole time. Today's really been the first day that everyone's been together. …(Coach Belichick) will have his own message for the entire team. Everyone really takes the lead from coach Belichick and (team owner) Mr. Kraft. I know they've commented on how they feel, and we, as players, try to follow their lead. Hopefully we can go out and do something that our community can really be proud of. I think that's the important thing.
"We've had such great examples over the years, whether it's Tedy Bruschi or Mike Vrabel or Troy Brown or Kevin Faulk -- guys who have worn this uniform and worn it well. Not only have we've been successful on the field, guys have committed so much of their time to doing things that are good in the community. This is obviously a time where those things are recognized because there's another situation to deal with. I'm still really proud of all those guys … who have gone out to make the city of Boston -- and all of New England -- proud what we do on and off the field."
Brady on his initial reaction when he first heard the news on Hernandez
"Those feelings were personal and I'm sure they were like everyone else's. It was six weeks ago so it's hard to remember the exact emotion I felt, but it's probably what everyone else here felt. You have them, but at some point I have to get back to doing my job. … My responsibility to this team -- and the responsibility to the teammates that I have -- so I just try to focus on that."
Brady on how well he thought he knew Hernandez
"I've had great relationship with so many guys and a relationship you have as a football player -- the relationship you have within the walls of this building -- are what they are. People have their own life. I typically have great relationships with all my teammates so hopefully I'm easy to get a long with. And I think that's pretty much all I have to say."
Brady on whether Hernandez fit in in the locker room
"I don't think any of that really matters to me or to anything that's going on with the legal process."
Brady on whether the Patriots Way still exists
"To win football games and represent the community?" the quarterback asked with a smile. "Certainly. No question."
Brady on how much of a distraction this is
"From my standpoint, zero. Kind of like most things at this point for me. … I said the other day that the fate of our season will be determined by the guys in the locker room. Hopefully, nothing else. And that's something I think we've always made a strong a commitment to and to me that means mental toughness. ...
"Look, I never try to be a distraction. I think I owe that to my teammates to never be a person that someone has to comment on. … I think that's the best example you can set as an elected captain and as a veteran player on the team -- you try to come out and do your job the best you can and hope the other guys can follow along. You realize you have to work very hard at that."
Brady on trusting teammates on the field
The best teammates I ever had -- guys like Wes (Welker) or Deion Branch -- I never had to worry about. And you know what, that allowed me to be able to do my job. I never had to worry about Vince (Wilfork). You never have to worry about Jerod (Mayo). You never have to worry about Devin (McCourty) or Matthew Slater. What that allows me to do is free my mental burden up so I can focus on what I need to do. And that's what I appreciate about guys like that. They allow me to be the best I can be."
When asked if Hernandez was at one time apart of that list of trusted teammates, Brady said, "I'm really not supposed to comment on Aaron."
Brady on the Patriots beginning training camp without the top five receivers from a season ago.
There's been quite a bit of turnover and I'm used to that. There's not many things I haven't had to deal with over the course of my time (in New England). We'll try to find a way to make it work … I'm excited.