Birthday boy: Patriots celebrate Brady turning 39
FOXBOROUGH, MASS. >> The crowd gathered at New England Patriots training camp broke into the first of several choruses of "Happy Birthday" on Wednesday morning.
Tom Brady, who turned 39 Wednesday, waved to the crowd, then went back to work.
Brady, of course, will miss the first four games of the regular season because of his "Deflategate" suspension, is allowed to practice right up until the Patriots make their final roster cuts, but then has to be away from the team.
For now, however, it's business as usual as Brady works along with likely replacement Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Jacoby Brissett.
Brady hasn't spoken to reporters in camp, his only public words coming when he showed up, wearing Kevin Faulk's No. 33, at Faulk's Patriots' Hall of Fame ceremony Monday.
But his birthday was a center of attention Wednesday.
"He didn't get it (from his teammates) too bad today," said safety Devin McCourty. "I tried to make a wish for him, we celebrate his birthday with some interceptions but he wasn't for it. There were no interceptions today."
Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, a new Brady teammate, marvels at what Brady can do at his age.
"It hit me today when I realized he was born in the 70s," Knighton said. "I don't know how he's doing it, but he's doing it at a high level. I feel bad for everybody that has to go against him because he's not slowing down."
Reminded Brady would hear the 70s quote, Knighton said, "That's cool, that's cool. I told him 'Happy birthday, old man,' today, but I still got a few more words for him once I get back in the locker room."
Asked if he could think of a gift you can give Brady, Knighton said, "Not at all. I think that at this point he should be buying everyone gifts for making it through 39."
Knighton, listed as 6-3/355, says he would win a footrace against Brady, adding "There's probably like three quarterbacks that can beat me in a foot race."
Garoppolo, asked what he got his mentor, said, "I can't tell you guys that. Come on."
Coach Bill Belichick had another view of the big "Jack Benny" birthday.
"Well, first of all, I don't think we want to miss Chris Barker's birthday as long as we're celebrating," Belichick said.
Belichick, asked about Brady's work ethic getting him to 39 and still playing well, said, "Yeah, no question, Tom works hard. (He) works very hard at all phases of the game. I think you have to, to play as long as he has."
Barker, a defensive lineman, turned 26 Wednesday.
"I take a little piece of pride every time somebody in the crowd says, 'Happy birthday Brady,"' he said. "I just change it to Barker in my head."
Asked if he heard anyone wish him a happy birthday, Barker said, "Tom did, so that's all I needed right there. In the locker room right before we came out he said 'happy birthday' and I said 'happy birthday' right back."
Reminded his coach gave him a shout-out earlier, Barker said, "That's a present right there. That's good enough for me."
NOTES: Rookie TE Bryce Williams, trying to make the team as an undrafted free agent, had his left knee wrapped in ice for most of practice. ... WR Chris Hogan reportedly won't be out long with a shoulder injury. . Rookie CB/PR Cyrus Jones, the 60th pick in the draft, but New England's first after losing its first rounder in the "Deflategate" punishment, continues to impress, as does rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell, a fourth-round pick. . Best shirt spotted was a Rob Gronkowski No. 87 jersey, with Gronkowski spelled backward because of a production flaw. The little girl wearing it didn't want the spelling fixed.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.