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Super Bowl LI: Tom Brady dismisses Deflategate vengeance as Patriots’ motivation

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady responds to

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady responds to a reporter's question during an NFL football team media availability, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots will face the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 on Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston. Credit: AP / Stephan Savoia

Tom Brady insists he’s just happy to be here.

The New England Patriots quarterback stressed that preparing for another Super Bowl is its own reward and that nothing — not even the events of this past year — could serve as added motivation.

If ever there was a season that could provide extra incentive for Brady, it’s this one. But in typical style, he steered clear of any talk about commissioner Roger Goodell or the Deflategate drama that dragged on for more than a year.

“I’m motivated for my teammates,” Brady said Friday, three days before the Patriots will travel to Houston for Super Bowl LI. “I think they’re all the motivation that I need. It takes a lot of work to get to this point, and nothing that has happened in the past is going to help us win this game.

“What’s going to help us win this game is going through that process that we talked about and being ready to go. That’s enough motivation for me.”

His four-game suspension did little to slow down his production or the Patriots. Instead, Brady returned more determined than ever to make up for lost time and earned a seventh Super Bowl appearance. The 39-year-old is seeking his fifth championship ring, but the Patriots will have to defeat the high-flying Atlanta Falcons in order to hoist the Lombardi Trophy again.

Asked to compare how he feels heading into this Super Bowl versus previous ones, Brady said: “I haven’t thought much about that, you know. I think [I’m] just very grateful for the opportunity. It’s a pretty cool thing for our team to be able to accomplish this. A lot of work goes into it. There are a lot of people that support us — our families, our friends, old coaches, old teammates — that’ll all be excited a week from Sunday, so I want to go out there and represent everybody really well.”

New England last faced Atlanta in Week 4 of the 2013 season and the Patriots won, 30-23, at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons now are led by a second-year head coach, Dan Quinn, who has transformed the NFC South team into a legitimate championship contender.

Brady said of the Falcons: “[They’re] very well-coached, very disciplined. I mean, they’re ahead by 20 points in so many of these games . . . They play with enthusiasm, they play aggressive, very tough, hard-nosed team. You don’t get to this point and [be] able to go out there and play an average game and expect to win. So it’ll be great to be at our best.”


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