Pa­tri­ots’ Brady ready for cold weather, Charg­ers

San Francisco Chronicle - Late Edition (Sunday) - - NFL - By Mike Shalin

FOXBOR­OUGH, Mass. — His coach down­plays it. Tom Brady does not.

Brady knows the cold­weather New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots should have an ad­van­tage when they host the warmweather Los An­ge­les Charg­ers in Sun­day’s AFC di­vi­sional-round game.

Hours be­fore, Pa­tri­ots coach Bill Belichick said, “We’re play­ing the Charg­ers. We’re not play­ing the weather — what­ever it is, it is. We’re go­ing to be on the same field” when asked about hav­ing no ad­van­tage. His quar­ter­back made it clear this team is quite com­fort­able in the ex­pected chilly con­di­tions.

New Eng­land will ap­par­ently dodge the snow­storm that’s mak­ing its way to the East Coast, but it will be cold. It’s the kind of cold the Pa­tri­ots, who are seek­ing their eighth straight trip to the AFC ti­tle game and a sixth Su­per Bowl ti­tle in the Brady era, know well.

“I just think the abil­ity to prac­tice in it,” Brady told his reg­u­lar Fri­day me­dia ses­sion. “Like to­day, it’s very sim­i­lar to what we’re go­ing to get on Sun­day, so just know­ing how many lay­ers you have to put on, and kind of how you’re go­ing to feel when you have the nice, warm, heated benches out there like we will on Sun­day.

“It’s cold and that’s just

Sun­day’s game

L.A. Charg­ers at New Eng­land, 10 a.m. /95.7 this part of this time of year. But it’s good to be play­ing when it’s cold out, it’s good to be play­ing this time of year in Foxbor­ough.”

Thurs­day pro­vided the home team with much of what this area has to of­fer in early Jan­uary.

“The weather changed a lit­tle bit yes­ter­day,” Brady said. “It snowed at the start, then got sunny, then got cloudy, then got windy, then got sunny and it was just a bunch of dif­fer­ent things. Just to prac­tice in it, we’re pre­pared for it, and hope­fully we can use some of the things that we’ve learned to our ad­van­tage.”

Brady has reached the AFC ti­tle game 12 times in 16 sea­sons as a starter. He will play in his record 38th post­sea­son game and comes in 27-10. He’s 41 years old and hasn’t had the great­est sea­son of his stel­lar ca­reer, but still gets, well, chills think­ing about play­ing in the cold.

“It’s a good time of year,” he said. “I think ev­ery­one’s ex­cited to be out there. It’s just a great en­vi­ron­ment of foot­ball.”

Brady and coun­ter­part Philip Rivers (37) com­bine to be the old­est quar­ter­backs to face each other in a post­sea­son game, break­ing the mark Brady had with Pey­ton Man­ning.

“That’s pretty cool,” Brady said of the age record. “It’s just fun to be around; I’m out there to­day prac­tic­ing and it’s what­ever de­grees out: 10 de­grees, 15 de­grees with the real feel. And I’m sit­ting here just play­ing with my friends, throw­ing the foot­ball around. So it’s just a great bless­ing to be able to do it, do it here for this team, which I have loved to do. Philip’s been on the same team — it means a lot.

“We all work hard to get to this point. Th­ese things aren’t guar­an­teed, very tough to get to this point in the sea­son. Ev­ery team four months ago thought they’d be play­ing in th­ese games. The re­al­ity is that’s not the way the NFL is. We’re very for­tu­nate and we have to go out and try and take ad­van­tage of it.”

Brady is 7-0 head to head with Rivers. The only time Rivers has beaten New Eng­land was in 2008 when Brady was in­jured and Matt Cas­sel was at QB.

But Rivers has had a ter­rific sea­son, and the Charg­ers won at Bal­ti­more in the wild­card round. This sea­son, Los An­ge­les was 7-1 on the road, while New Eng­land was 8-0 at home.

“He’s a great player,” Brady said. “They’ve had a lot of great teams in San Diego over the years, led by him. He’s a great passer, tough, very ac­cu­rate. He’s a great leader. So when I think of that team it’s just he’s an emo­tional leader and he al­ways gets those guys go­ing. They al­ways have a good of­fense. It’s a good team, ob­vi­ously they’re good in all three phases, they’ve won a lot of games this year, gone on the road a bunch, so they’re very men­tally tough. It’s go­ing to take our best to win.”

“He’s the guy we drafted and mov­ing for­ward, he’s our quar­ter­back,” coach Doug Ped­er­son said, re­peat­ing the same thought sev­eral times.

The Ea­gles must de­cide by mid-Fe­bru­ary if they want to ex­er­cise a $20 mil­lion op­tion to keep Foles for 2019. That’s a big price to pay a backup, though Wentz is sched­uled to make a base salary of $720,000 next sea­son with a salary cap to­tal of about $8.5 mil­lion.

If the team de­clines the op­tion, Foles be­comes a free agent. If the op­tion is picked up, Foles has five days to choose whether to ac­cept it or void it and pay back a $2 mil­lion sign­ing bonus. Philadel­phia could elect to ex­er­cise the op­tion and trade Foles. His salary would be­come fully guar­an­teed on March 18, the fifth day of the league year.

Wentz is un­der team con­trol through 2020 and the Ea­gles could of­fer him a long-term deal now be­fore his ask­ing price sky­rock­ets.

Al­though it’s not a de­bate within the or­ga­ni­za­tion, Foles vs. Wentz has dom­i­nated con­ver­sa­tion among fans and

Led by Rivers, Brady notes the Charg­ers’ abil­ity to come back in games, some­thing that has been a Brady trade­mark.

“They were down 14 to K.C. with four min­utes left, down a bunch to the Steel­ers,” Brady said. “You just can’t count them out.”

Mike Shalin is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

sports talk­ers.

Foles has won a Su­per Bowl and he’s 25-12 as a starter in Philadel­phia, go­ing back to his first stint with the team in 201214. He has the high­est win­ning per­cent­age (.676) in fran­chise his­tory.

While out­siders ar­gue the mer­its of both, it has not been un­com­fort­able for two quar­ter­backs who are close friends and share a spe­cial bond.

“Both guys are broth­ers in Christ first and fore­most so that’s a big part of their re­la­tion­ship,” Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz said. “They un­der­stand that foot­ball is not the most im­por­tant thing to them so they re­late ex­tremely well in many other things. They’re ex­tremely happy for the other guy’s suc­cess.

“You don’t find that ev­ery­where. You don’t find that very of­ten on the same team let alone the same po­si­tion, but that is what’s dif­fer­ent about this team. Guys truly care about one an­other and are happy for the other man’s suc­cess.”

Rob Maaddi is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

play­ing time is shorter in foot­ball. But he could have a longer ca­reer and ul­ti­mately make more money in base­ball.

He’s been known to change his mind be­fore. He orig­i­nally went to his fa­ther’s alma mater, Texas A&M, be­fore he de­cided to trans­fer to Ok­la­homa af­ter los­ing the start­ing job. A bit of a fash­ion­ista, the first thing he did when he was drafted by the A’s was pull up the uni­form to en­vi­sion what he was go­ing to look like in green and yel­low.

Maybe Mur­ray isn’t drafted as high as he ex­pects, and he de­cides to play base­ball in­stead. Or maybe he is drafted by a team with lousy man­age­ment or a lo­ca­tion he doesn’t like. Or even with a uni­form he deems un­flat­ter­ing. Or maybe he plays foot­ball for a year and gets beaten up and de­cides he made the wrong de­ci­sion. He still has base­ball in his back pocket.

Will Mur­ray ever play on a Jan­uary play­off week­end, as a mem­ber of an elite group of quar­ter­backs? My ma­ter­nal in­stincts say “I hope not,” but the NFL re­mains a pow­er­ful lure.

Ann Killion is a San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle colum­nist. Email: akil­[email protected]­i­ Twit­ter: @annkil­lion

Steven Senne / As­so­ci­ated Press

Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady warms up in the cold at prac­tice the week. With a high tem­per­a­ture of 29 fore­cast for Sun­day, New Eng­land will host the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers.

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