Patriots’ Brady ready for cold weather, Chargers
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
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.
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]icle.com Twitter: @annkillion
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.