FOXBOROUGH ó Tom Brady ran from the sideline to the opposite side of the end zone to congratulate Julian Edelman on his 84-yard punt return touchdown that helped lift the New England Patriots to a huge victory over the Denver Broncos.
Don't call him Brett Favre yet, but Brady sure looked like a kid out there.
"I was kind of winded," Brady said at a press conference on Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. "Probably the longest I ran in a long time. It was a great reason to do it. Jules is just, he's awesome, man. I love that guy. He's just a special person, player, friend. We've had a lot of time together over the years, so we've got a real special bond."
Brady is all business when it comes to football, but he is known as a fierce competitor, and it shows when he gets fired up for his teammates making a big play.
He may be a two-time league MVP, two-time Super Bowl MVP, and three-time Super Bowl champion, but he hasn't lost sight of the importance of building strong relationships with his teammates.
"I always feel like I'm the same guy. I feel like I'm still the kid from Portola Drive," Brady said. "I know probably from the outside in it's different, but from the inside out it's the same. A big part of playing this game is the relationships that you have with your teammates. Winning is great. Seeing all those guys come back that I played with ó Roman Phifer and Tom Ashworth and Willie [McGinest] and Ty [Law] and Richard [Seymour], and all those guys who've been such an important part of my life ó the guys now are an important part of my life, because we all make sacrifices for one another.
"We see each other at our most vulnerable moments. When you lay it on the line like that, you develop a really special bond with those guys. That's nothing that I think about, it's just probably part of who I am and it's probably why I love the game so much, it's why it's a really natural thing. I don't think I ever have to force those things. Hopefully I chose the right occupation for that."
This is nothing new for Brady, who's been getting fired up since 2001 and his infamous head-butting of former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe in the tunnel prior to Super Bowl XXXVI.
Being an approachable teammate is still very important to Brady, even though his life experiences are much different than some of the younger players on the Patriots roster. They may not have much in common off the field, but the bonds they form on the field make it easier for everyone to relate to each other.
"I think that's really important, because if you know someone for a month, they don't know who you are ó not like a guy who's been with me for five years or ten years," he said. "So that's an important thing. It's easier when you're all the same age because you're all doing the same stuff. My life's a lot different now than it was when I was 24 on a bye week. I couldn't wait to get out of town, and [wondering], 'Where are we going? There's all these things to do." And now, I see all my teammates doing the same stuff and it's like, 'Go enjoy it, because you're going to be married with three kids some day and it's going to be a lot different.' They have those experiences, and I have a different experience, and I don't need to go through what they're going through to be like them. I think the common thing that we all have in common is playing for this team and trying to do everything we can to help this team win. That's what we're here for."