"I know the last six weeks have been distracting for a lot of people. But you know I'd say for this team, we're trying to focus on our job and what we have to do to come out and win football games," Brady told reporters at the team's training camp on Thursday morning. "Certainly it's a very tragic thing that happened. Someone loses their life. But all of those things are out of the players' control here. We're not really part of that situation. So I don't think it does a lot for us to get too much involved."
In his comments on Thursday, Brady echoed a statement he'd given Peter King of Sports Illustrated. The 35-year-old quarterback told King that he has "moved on." On Thursday, Brady explained how the "Patriots Way" could help the players in training camp move forward and focus on the action on the field rather than the latest in the court room.
"The fate of our season is going to be determined by the guys in the locker room and hopefully nothing else," Brady said. "You talk about the Patriot Way, and to me that means mental toughness, it means dealing with different situations and adversities over the course of a season and offseason and how you can put those things behind you and focus on your job."
Asked if he had been in contact with Hernandez, Brady declined to answer, citing guidance from Patriots vice president of media relations Stacey James.
“Stacey told me I can’t comment on any of that,” Brady told reporters. “Stacey told me — it’s a good question, but I’m not supposed to comment on any of those things.
The former Patriots tight end was arrested on June 26 in connection with the shooting death of 27-year-old semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd. The Patriots released him shortly after his arrest. Hernandez was later charged with murder and has been held without bail.
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady said Thursday the New England Patriots must work hard to "re-establish what we're all about" in the wake of Aaron Hernandez's arrest on a murder charge.
"It's been a challenging offseason, but we're going to try to move forward as best we know how," the quarterback said on the opening day of training camp.
Surrounded by about 50 media members, Brady was soft-spoken and thoughtful as he talked at length for the first time since his former tight end's name surfaced in connection with the shooting death of Boston semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd on June 17. Hernandez was arrested on June 26 and cut by the Patriots before he was charged that afternoon. He is being held without bail after pleading not guilty.
"Certainly, it's a very tragic thing that happened and someone loses their life," Brady said during a 17-minute session on the team's practice field, "but all those things were out of the players' control here. We're not really a part of that situation."
He declined to answer several questions, saying he had been advised not to. They included whether he had spoken with Hernandez or whether Hernandez had apologized to him after the tight end was linked to the investigation.
During Hernandez's three seasons since being drafted by the Patriots, he was one of Brady's top receivers.
Asked if he thought he knew Hernandez, Brady said, "the relationship that you have as a football player, the relationship you have within the walls of (Gillette Stadium) are what they are and then people have their own life."
Asked if Hernandez had fit in with his former teammates, Brady said, "I don't think any of that really matters to me or matters to anything that's going on with the legal process or anything like that."
And the Hernandez case has been "zero" distraction for him.
"It's a terrible thing that happened," Brady said. "There's a very human, compassionate element that we all have and when it's someone that has been on our team, it's a very sad thing. So I think that we, as a team, have tried to move forward with better awareness and understanding of these types of things."
Brady spoke one day after coach Bill Belichick broke his silence with a 22-minute news conference as the Patriots try to wipe away the stain Hernandez's arrest brings to their reputation. Belichick displayed unusual patience with questioners and gave more detailed answers than he usually does.
On Thursday, Brady listed several former teammates – Tedy Bruschi, Kevin Faulk, Troy Brown, Mike Vrabel – who represented the Patriots well on and off the field.
"Everyone who has played here has played a part of what the New England Patriots are all about," said Brady, wearing a dark blue sweatshirt with the words, "PATRIOTS ESTABLISHED IN 1960" on the front. "We realize that in light of the recent situation that probably those things get overshadowed and we've got to work hard to kind of re-establish what we're all about.
"And that's, like we said, to win games and to be the best representatives of this team and organization and representatives for this city that we can possibly be."