Tom Brady unhurt in car accident
BOSTON -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was in a two-car accident near his home at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning but was unhurt and attended practice later in the day at Gillette Stadium.
Brady arrived at the stadium Thursday morning and was involved in parts of meetings and a walk-through in addition to participating in the team's practice session as the Patriots prepare for Sunday's season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
During the 11-minute portion of afternoon practice that reporters were allowed to watch Thursday, Brady, in full uniform with pads and helmet, stretched as usual with his teammates. Then, as he usually does, he threw soft passes of 20 to 30 yards to teammates.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick told the team about the accident before practice and said Brady might be a bit late.
"He didn't make it seem like it was anything serious," outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain said of Belichick's remarks to the team. "I saw [Brady] a little while ago and he looks OK. I saw him walking in, he had a smile on his face, no abrasions. I think he's fine. That was my first reaction."
Added veteran tight end Alge Crumpler: "He's here, he's ready to go."
Rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski said he caught a pass from Brady in the pre-practice walk-through and that it was as crisp as ever.
"We're just all thankful he's fine, and glad he's back here already, and back working," Gronkowski said.
His initial reaction was concern.
"Obviously it's a shock, no matter who it is," Gronkowski said. "You never want to hear information like that. We're all thankful everyone is all right and he's here."
The crash, at an intersection in Boston's Back Bay area blocks from Brady's home, knocked over a light pole and sent a passenger in the other vehicle to the hospital with injuries that were serious but not considered life-threatening, a police report said.
A police report says 21-year-old Ludgero Rodrigues was driving a Mercury Villager minivan that struck Brady's Audi sedan.
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Ann Dufresne says the driver's license of Rodrigues was suspended at least five times in three years. She says that includes a 180-day suspension last year after he was arrested for operating under the influence and refused to take a blood-alcohol test.
Police say Rodrigues was cited Thursday for failing to stop at a red light. Two other people in the minivan were able to exit and had no visible injuries, witnesses said.
A telephone listing for Rodrigues could not immediately be found Thursday.
The police report, which did not name Brady, said the driver of the Audi had no visible injuries and was evaluated by Emergency Medical Services. It said a 49-year-old passenger in the minivan had to be freed with the Jaws of Life and was taken to a hospital.
"I understand he's fine, but I haven't talked to him," Brady's father, Tom Brady Sr., said outside his son's home in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood.
The elder Brady had just arrived in Boston from the family's California home and found out about the accident as soon as he got off his flight.
"Not the way you like to get off a plane," he said.
One of Brady's neighbors, a 74-year-old woman who asked that her name not be used for fear of being hounded by media inquiries, was walking her dogs when she saw the accident.
She said Brady was traveling south on Gloucester Street and approaching the intersection on a green light when his car collided with a fast-moving minivan that was westbound on Commonwealth Avenue.
"The red car went up in the air, sideways. ... The tire was half off," the woman said.
Afterward, she said Brady immediately got out of his car.
The woman had been near the intersection when the crash occurred and fell down and hit her head while bracing for impact.
She said the two sat next to each other in an ambulance, but neither was taken to the hospital. She did not realize he was the star quarterback until later.
"I want to thank the safety personnel for their service, and express our concern and support for the well-being of the occupants of the other vehicle," Brady's agent, David Yee, said in a statement. "I don't have any other information to share at this time."
Another witness, Bill Barron, said he was in his apartment overlooking the intersection when he heard a collision that sounded like "a bolt of lightning."
When he looked out the window, he saw the driver of the car picking glass off his clothes and wiping himself off with a towel. He didn't realize until later that it was Brady.
"I thought it was some college kid who had crashed up his father's really nice car," Barron said.
Brady then retrieved some items from his car, made a series of phone calls and was picked up by another vehicle, Barron said.
On Wednesday, when he was peppered with questions about his long-term contract status, Brady explained his "different approach" of how he now lives as if nothing is guaranteed in the future. He said that's why he focuses only on the present. The words probably carry some extra weight with Brady after he escaped serious injury.
"You count your blessings when you come off the field," Brady said. "I think you have a new appreciation when you do come off the field, win or lose. You're trying to win every time out, obviously. 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.'"
The accident caused something of a media stir at Gillette Stadium on Thursday. As reporters rushed into the locker room when the media access period began, many filmed pictures of Brady's locker, where a pair of jeans and a shirt were placed over a chair.
It was a much busier scene than normal, with several television stations on hand preparing to go on the air live.
Left tackle Matt Light found the crowd humorous as he walked through the locker room and cracked, "It's just a car accident, people."
One local television station even dispatched a helicopter to hover over the team's practice field and beam live video of Brady playing catch.
Brady has played prominently in the news this week with several reports saying he was close to finalizing a contract extension with New England.
Those reports materialized Thursday night, when sources close to negotiations confirmed that Brady signed a four-year extension that will be filed with the NFL on Friday.
The deal is worth $72 million, $48.5 million guaranteed, a source familiar with the deal told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. The extension will be added on to the final year of Brady's contract and goes through 2014, when he will be 37 years old. Brady has said he wants to play until he's 40.
Brady, who was picked by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, is making $6.5 million this season in the final year of a four-year, $48 million extension.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King broke news of the agreement during halftime of NBC's broadcast of the NFL's season-opening game between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings, saying he spoke to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who told him the deal was finished.
Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss and The Associated Press was used in this report.