A good deal of gratitude
While Patriots owner Robert Kraft shared his thoughts on the contract extension for Tom Brady Friday — the deal was finalized Thursday night and submitted to the NFL Friday morning — Brady politely declined reporters’ requests to chat that afternoon.
But yesterday, the quarterback and the owner released statements through the team, acknowledging the completion of the four-year, $72 million pact that makes Brady the highest-paid player in league history in terms of average annual salary.
“I have never been comfortable talking about my contract and certainly didn’t want discussions of my contract negotiations to serve as a distraction to any of my teammates as we have been preparing for the Cincinnati Bengals and the start of the 2010 season,’’ Brady said. “However, I do want to express my appreciation to Mr. Kraft and Jonathan Kraft for extending my opportunity to play for the New England Patriots. I am grateful for all that the Kraft family has done for me, both personally and professionally, and for all they have done for my family.
“Not only have I had the good fortune of playing for just one franchise, I have also played for the greatest head coach and with some of the best teammates a player could ever ask for. My teammates, both past and present, are the main reason why we have accomplished so much over the years. I love playing in New England and appreciate all the support that our fans give us.’’
Echoing comments he made Friday, Kraft expressed his pleasure at having Brady remain with the team he has led to three Super Bowl titles since being drafted in 2000.
“We have been very fortunate to have Tom Brady as the quarterback of the New England Patriots for the past decade,’’ said Kraft. “I am glad that this contract extension will allow his tenure to continue well into the next decade.’’
An Army brat (his father is a retired colonel) with a schoolteacher mother, Love was born in South Korea. The family also has lived in St. Louis, Florida, and, Love recalled, the Boston area for a time. He went to high school in Atlanta, where he was a standout on both the offensive and defensive lines.
At Mississippi State, Love played as a true freshman and started 12 games as a senior, but he didn’t attract much attention and was not invited to the scouting combine. The Patriots found him, however, and have another backup to Vince Wilfork.
To that end, Love essentially has become Wilfork’s shadow.
“Every day I ask him something different or he tells me something different,’’ said Love. “Sometimes he comes to me and tells me, ‘This is what you didn’t do, this is what you didn’t look for, this and that.’
“He’s a great leader and I take a lot of advice from him. I’ve watched him real closely every day. I keep my eyes on him. I just watch what he does and just go out there and try to do my best to do what I have to do to be similar to that.’’
Though undrafted rookies are typically long shots, Love was never discouraged, citing his parents’ lesson to never leave anything undone.
“I’m going to try my best to give it my all every day and give them a reason to keep me,’’ he said. “That’s really my mind-set: just to fight every day like it’s my last day, so that’s what I’m going to continue to do.’’