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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady talks retirement, offseason preparation, anthem protests in interview with Oprah

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New England’s quarterback opened up about a variety of topics.

NFL: Super Bowl LII-New England Patriots Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady is one of the biggest athletes in the world. Oprah Winfrey is one of the biggest television personalities in the world. The two recently sat down together and Winfrey interviewed the New England Patriots’ quarterback about a variety of topics from his future in football to pre-game protests across the NFL to losing Super Bowls.

Let’s take a look at six takeaways from the interview that aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network this weekend (quotes via ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss):

1. Brady shoots down speculation about issues with Bill Belichick

Ever since an early January article by ESPN’s Seth Wickersham about internal turmoil within the Patriots organization, the relationship between Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick has been watched closely and subject to speculation and rumor. However, Brady does not feel as if there are any deeper issues between him and his head coach of the last 18 years brewing underneath the surface.

“Umm, no,” Brady answered when asked whether or not there was “something going on” between him and Belichick. “He’s an incredible coach, mentor for me. And he’s pushed me in a lot of ways. Like everything, we don’t agree on absolutely everything. But that’s relationships.”

2. Deflategate was “a great experience” for Brady

One of the biggest stories in recent NFL memory, Deflategate saw the future Hall of Famer sit out the first four games of the 2016 season before coming back to win the Super Bowl. Three years removed from the scandal, Brady takes a rather zen-like approach to it: “In some ways, it was a great experience in my life. I think you look back on those experiences, and it was a really tough experience in my life.”

Brady elaborated that Deflategate taught him a lot about people and life. He also spoke why he ultimately dropped the legal battle against the NFL’s front office accusing him of being part of a scheme to artificially lower the air-pressure levels in footballs ahead of the 2014 AFC Championship Game – even though all scientific evidence pointed to the contrary being the case.

“Just too much anxiety,” Brady said about his decision to stop fighting against his suspension. “I realized I couldn’t win and it was divided attention. I was tired of that. Tired of waking up and having a call with someone from the players’ association. I just said ‘You know what, I’m going to use this as an opportunity to... I had the month of September off for the first time in 21 years, and I’m going to take advantage of this.’”

“The first thing I did, my wife and I and our kids, we flew out to see my parents,” the quarterback continued. “My mom was just starting treatment for cancer and I said ‘We’re going golfing and we’re going to go to Pebble Beach.’ We never went on a honeymoon, my wife and I, so we said, ‘Look, we’re going to go to Italy in September.’ So I said, ‘Man, that was the best month off I think I’ve ever had.’”

3. Brady thinks football is “a lot of fun” – and won’t quit as long as it still is

Ever since the Patriots lost Super Bowl 52, there has been speculation about Brady’s future and whether or not the 40-year old would return for another seaon. Unsurprisingly, he does – but a future away from football is still already on his mind, Brady told Winfrey. “I think about [retirement] more now than I used to. I think I’m seeing that there’s definitely an end coming, sooner rather than later.”

However, the end still appears to be a little further down the road. “As long as I’m still loving it,” Brady answered when asked how long he plans to continue playing. “As long as I’m loving the training and preparation and willing to make the commitment. But it’s also I think what I’ve alluded to a lot in [Tom vs Time] was there’s other things happening in my life too.”

“I do have kids that I love, and I don’t want to be a dad that’s not there driving my kids to their games,” the quarterback said. “I think my kids have brought a great perspective in my life, because kids just want the attention. You better be there and be available to them, or else they’re going to look back on their life and go, ‘Dad didn’t really care that much.’”

Ultimately, though, Brady still feels like he is “in it”: “I still feel like I’m doing it. I still feel like there’s still more to be accomplished. [...] I still feel like I can be better, be a percentage better. I’ve played a long time. It’s not like you go, ‘Hey man, I’m going to become something different.’ No. I am what I am. I know my strengths. I’ve improved on some of the weaknesses. And I still think I want to go out there and compete and play with a bunch of 22-year-olds. It’s still a lot of fun.”

4. Brady respects players’ pre-game protests

Last season, Colin Kaepernick’s pre-game protests against police brutality and oppression of minorities – kneeling during the United States Anthem – were taken to another level after divisive comments by President Donald Trump. In New England, a group of players also opted to protest before the team decided to tackle the issue united by standing during the anthem and locking arms.

“We had meetings after practice talking about how we wanted to deal with that particular situation,” Brady – who said Trump was a friend of his early during his presidential campaign but also criticized him after his comments regarding the protests – told Winfrey. “There were a lot of really good, healthy conversations coming out of it, in our locker room.”

“The great part about sports are the relationships, and I’ve been in it for a long time,” the soon-to-be 41-year old continued. “I’ve been with guys from all different parts of the country: Every color, race, belief. And you know what? You respect what other people – I mean, I do, I respect why people are doing what they’re doing, and they’re doing it for different reasons, and that’s okay. [...] I thought it was great.”

5. Losing Super Bowl 42 hurt Brady more than losing Super Bowl 52

Winfrey also asked Brady about playing in the Super Bowl, win or lose. The five-time champion called his team’s victory in Super Bowl 49 over the Seattle Seahawks – with Deflategate being kicked off not even two weeks before the game – “one of the greatest experiences” of his life. It was Brady’s fourth win on the big stage and the first since the Patriots won Super Bowl 39 ten years earlier. However, Brady’s Super Bowl career is not entirely full of positive memories.

In 2007, entering the game with a perfect 18-0 record, New England lost to the New York Giants – the first of three defeats Brady suffered in the Super Bowl. “We had, I think, one of the greatest football teams in the history of football – went undefeated, got to the Super Bowl, we played the Giants, and we lost,” Brady said about the game. “It was a month before I really felt back to myself. It was a nightmare. You woke up the next morning and said ‘It didn’t happen. There’s no way that happened.’”

Coming off a loss in Super Bowl 52, Brady explained that he did not have the same feeling and pointed out that it took him “only” two to three weeks to recover from the defeat.

6. Brady, Belichick, and Robert Kraft are talking about his offseason approach

Brady made headlines earlier this offseason when he opted to stay away from the Patriots’ voluntary offseason workouts for the first time since 2010. However, his absence is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things – and the reigning league MVP seems to agree: “I probably do some of my own techniques differently from the rest of the team,” he told Winfrey when she asked him about skipping organized team activities and the like.

“The team, I would say, like most teams are very systematic in their approach,” Brady continued. “And what I learned, I guess, is different from some of the things that are systematic but that work for me. It’s nothing that I don’t talk about with my coach and owner – ‘This is what I want to do; this is what I need to be the best player I can be and hopefully you can support that.’”