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Thursday, July 18, 2002
Updated: July 19, 1:27 PM ET
Tom Brady

Special to Page 2

Last year was a storybook season for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. This year, they begin the hard work of defending their title. It's a tall order but rising to the occasion is nothing new for Brady, a former sixth-round draft pick.

Tom Brady
Tom Brady doesn't wear his Super Bowl ring, but you know he'll be waving around that ESPY.
Now the question is, does he have what it takes to handle 10 Burning Questions? Page 2's Eric Neel cornered him on a bus ride to the Playboy Mansion (Yeah, being a Super Bowl champion quarterback is hard work, ain't it?) and put him through the drill.

1. Page 2: What's the best thing that's different in your life since the Super Bowl win?

Tom Brady: Wow, I would say the best thing is looking at the Super Bowl ring and thinking, man, I've been a part of a team that won it all. I'm a world champion.

Do you wear the ring all the time?

Brady: No, no, I've worn it once and then, actually, gave it to my dad.

What's the worst difference in your life since the win?

Brady: Things that used to take me five minutes now take me about 40. The grocery store, the post office ... you're trying to get 'em done quick.

But now you get too much attention in those places?

Brady: Yeah, and that's not a bad thing to have, and you appreciate it, but at the same time it gets to be ... if you let it, it can be pretty distracting.

Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson, shown in "We were Soldiers," better start working on his throws.
2. How are the summer workouts going?

Brady: The one thing about our team this year is guys don't mind working hard. The leaders of the team are there, setting the tone for the young guys and when the young guys see that, they want to be a part of it. They say, wow, this is what it takes to be good.

3. Is the feeling different than last summer and in what way?

Brady: We're certainly more confident, you know. There's more of a swagger. But at the same time, you realize that if you lose that first game, everyone will say, look, this team's changed, they're not the same group. But I don't think our team will fall into that, I don't think our coach will let us.

Is there less pressure this year?

Brady: There's pressure from everyone, from your coaches, from your family, from the media, from your friends. I've always said that my expectations of myself were always pretty high, higher than anyone's ever given me credit for. When you win a Super Bowl, my feeling is wow, that's great, but I really kind of expected it, not in a bragging way ... so now the question is, what's next?

Joe Montana
Brady wants to talk shop at dinner with Joe Montana and a few other quarterbacks.
4. Did you take a lot of heat for the Sports Illustrated cover shot you did with your shirt off?

Brady: Way, way too much heat.

How did they persuade you to do it?

Brady: I got suckered on that one pretty good. We played a round of golf and we were hanging out. I started feeling pretty comfortable, they were giving us food, my dad was sitting over there eating, and my buddies were over there eating. And the photographer says, "You know, I'm looking for a different shot, maybe we should try something different. Maybe you should take your shirt off."

And I say, "What are you gonna show?" And he says, "oh, just your shoulders up," and I'm thinking, he's a professional, he knows what to do.

So of course I did it and then I got in the car with my dad and said, "What an idiot I am, what am I doing?!" I knew exactly what they were going to do with it.

5. When did you guys, as a team, believe you could win it all?

Brady: I think it was a couple of weeks into training camp. We knew we had something special. When we started out and barely lost to the Jets, and then we beat Indy big. And then we beat San Diego in a big comeback win, down 10 with seven minutes left in the fourth, and that's when we said, "We know what we're made of."

Hugh Hefner and girlfriends
Brady's a big fan of Hugh Hefner's body of work.
6. If they made a movie about the Patriots Super Bowl season, who would you want to play you?

Brady: I've got to go with Mel Gibson, my favorite actor. "Braveheart," man, I love that.

7. If you could invite any three people to dinner tomorrow night, who would you invite and why?

Brady: I have to pick my three idols: (Joe) Montana, (Steve) Young and (John) Elway. And (Dan) Marino for a fourth. We're gonna have dinner for five.

8. When you meet Hugh Hefner tonight, what are you going to say to him?

Brady: "I love your work."

9. What is your favorite all-time sports movie?

Brady: "Hoosiers." No question.

10. What's it like to be the most eligible bachelor in New England these days?

Brady: Well, all the married guys on the team say, "If I were single ..." and they let me kind of finish the statement.