- Mike Reiss, ESPN New England Patriots reporter
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quarterback Tom Brady predictably wouldn't say Wednesday whether his anticipated contract extension has been signed. But, in perhaps the biggest hint that the deal is at the goal line and ready to be pushed through for the score, he did address how his season-ending knee injury from 2008 has shaped his mindset on business matters.
Brady was injured on the Patriots' 15th offensive play that season, ligaments in his left knee badly torn. As he considered how to approach negotiations this offseason, risking injury without a new deal was at the forefront of his mind.
"That's a big part of it," he acknowledged. "It's a physical game. I've had four surgeries in eight years -- my shoulder, my knee, my groin and one other one, too. All surgeries are major as far as I'm concerned.
"You count your blessings when you come off the field," he continued. "I think you have a new appreciation when you do come off the field, win or lose. You try to win, obviously, every time out, but I think you also pinch yourself every time you walk off the field healthy and say 'Man, at least I get a chance to go out next week and play also.'"
It was not known that Brady had four surgeries in eight years, so that was some revealing news from a mob scene in the corner of the Patriots' locker room Wednesday morning, with at least 50 reporters gathered around to hear what Brady had to say.
The crowd was a result of Brady's choosing the locker room, not the workroom where news conferences are held, to answer questions. That had some of his teammates laughing as they entered the locker room from meetings, as television cameras were pointed at the door to film Brady's arrival. Perhaps we've gone a little overboard here, no?
Team officials had Brady speak in front of the vacant locker of safety Bret Lockett, who is on injured reserve, because it was in a corner and could better accommodate the overflowing crowd of reporters around him. Brady deflected questions about the status of his potential contract extension, similar to how he did earlier in the morning in his weekly appearance on a Boston sports radio station.
One of the first questions was whether he had signed anything since he finished his radio interview. Brady said he hadn't. He had been in meetings all morning, focusing on the only thing he cared to talk about -- the team's season-opening opponent, the Bengals.
"It's not even a part of my thought process," he said of the contract. "I haven't thought about it yesterday, today."
Asked whether he was excited about possibly being in New England for the long term, Brady said he doesn't assume anything, adding that he approaches things as if nothing is guaranteed except for what is happening at that moment.
"That's a different approach that I've taken over the years because you really never know when your last day may be," he said.
Perhaps no day has solidified that approach for Brady more than Sept. 7, 2008, when Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard came crashing into his left knee. It was a reminder of the risks players assume every time they step on the field.
Although Brady wouldn't dish on the status of contract negotiations Wednesday, he was much more revealing when it came to how his knee injury has altered his mindset with respect to the business side of the game.
That's one reason it would be surprising if he took the field Sunday without his signature on a new contract.
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.
Threat of injury provides push to get Tom Brady's contract done before the opener.