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NFL: Brady brushes off barbs

By Ron Kroichick
San Francisco Chronicle
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. ó Tom Brady just wants to talk about football. The New York Jets wonít let him.
Day after noisy day, the mouths to the south keep moving. The quarterback tries to evade their onslaughts as if they were 300-pound pass rushers.
The latest blitz: Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie called the mop-topped leader of the New England Patriots an expletive.
ěIíve been called worse,î Brady said, brushing it off like the heavy snow that fell on Foxborough. ěIím sure thereís a long list of people who feel that way.î
Cromartie made his comment Tuesday to the New York Daily News and didnít back off on Wednesday, although he said heís never met Brady.
ěWhy should I regret it? Thatís how I feel,î he said. ěAs long as Iím in the NFL and heís in the NFL, thereís going to be a hatred.î
Brady just keeps plowing forward.
The Patriots most valuable motorist, who was involved in a car collision three days before the season opener but made it to practice, traveled treacherous roads and arrived at work on time Wednesday.
ěIt was tough conditions for everyone,î Brady said. ěBut everyoneís here, ready to work and get ready for the biggest game of the year.î
Does anything faze this guy?
New Yorkís Rex Ryan hopes to be as successful outwitting New Englandís Bill Belichick on the field as he is off it when the coaches lead their teams in Sundayís divisional playoff game.
Ryan already has opened wide his bulging playbook of colorful remarks by throwing verbal jabs at Brady, who simply shrugs them off ó but may not forget.
Last Thursday, the Jets boss said ěnobodyî studies like Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning. Brady, Ryan said, ěthinks he doesî but gets more help from Belichick than there is with Manning. Brady acknowledged that he gets ěa tonî of help from his coach.
On Saturday night during the Patriotsí bye week, Brady attended the Broadway play ěLombardiî about Green Bayís legendary coach Vince Lombardi and missed part of the Jetsí 17-16 playoff win over the Colts on television. Ryan said on Monday, with a grin, that ěManning would have been watching our game.î
He also said that day that Brady ětook a shot at me by his antics on the field.î Did he mean Brady pointed at the Jetsí sideline or looked at them after scoring? ěI donít like seeing that; nobody does. No Jet fan likes to see that. And I know he canít wait to do it. Heís not going to say anything publicly,î Ryan said.
Heís right about that.
ěItís certainly not my intent. Iím sure thereís 50,000 cameras on the game. If I did that Iím sure theyíd show it,î Brady said, sounding innocent. ěI donít think Iíve ever pointed at anybody. Thatís not my style.î
Even if he did rub it in by gesturing to the New York sideline after scoring during a 45-3 win Dec. 6, it could have been prevented ó by the Jets themselves.
ěHe was pretty demonstrative when we played him up there last time,î Jets linebacker Jason Taylor said. ěI come from the school of thought where if you donít want someone to celebrate or be excited or say something to you or do something that you might perceive as offensive, then donít let them score.î
Cromartie said he hopes Brady tries to pick on him Sunday for his remark.
But is there a line that can be crossed that goes beyond trash talking?
ěIím sure there is,î Belichick said calmly.
And what is that?
ěI donít know,î he said. ěIn my mind right now itís the New York Jets Sunday at 4:30.î
Might all the jabbering have an effect on the Patriots performance then?
ěWeíll see on Sunday night at 7:30,î Brady said. ěThatís when everybody will be able to tell whether it played a role or not.î
It will be Bradyís first postseason game since the worst one in a career in which he is 14-4 in the playoffs with three Super Bowl championships. He lost in the first round last season to Baltimore, 33-14.
Ryan keeps saying he respects Brady as a player but wonít punish Cromartie for using a nasty word.
ěWe donít have to be all lovey-dovey and say heís the greatest thing since sliced bread,î Ryan said. ěWe have a right to our opinion and a comment like that, itís no big deal.î
Belichick says his team is focused on preparing for the game. His players say that Cromartieís characterization doesnít motivate them and that heís entitled to his opinion.
When asked about the unflattering description, Brady smoothly shifted the direction to praising Cromartieís skills.
ěHeís a good player,î Brady said. ěRevis is a great player. They have a great secondary and they are one of the best defenses we face. Weíre going to spend a lot of time preparing for them. … The way they shut down the Colts offense is pretty impressive because we know how good that offense is.î
Cromartie has one of the four interceptions Brady threw. Revis held AFC receptions leader Reggie Wayne to one catch for a yard in the playoff win over Indianapolis.

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