|

Minneapolis (AFP) – Tom Brady insists there will be nothing to choose between his New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles when the two sides collide in next weekend’s Super Bowl.

Brady will be chasing a record sixth Super Bowl crown on Sunday as the Patriots machine comes up against an Eagles side who have been quick to pitch themselves as underdogs for the NFL’s championship game.

While the Patriots remain the firm bookies’ favourites for a clash that sees Brady play in his eighth Super Bowl while Eagles opposite number Nick Foles plays in his first, the quarterback said he was paying no attention to the odds.

“They’re good in all three phases,” Brady, 40, said of the Eagles, who like the Patriots are 15-3 this season. “There are no underdogs in the Super Bowl.

“They’re the first seed in the NFC. They had an incredible season. They’re as dangerous as any team in the league.

“It’s going to come down to who plays the best and hopefully it’s us.”

Brady was speaking as Super Bowl week kicked off with its now traditional opening night extravaganza at Minneapolis’s Xcel Energy Center.

While relatively low-key compared to recent years, when everyone from Miss Universe to Olympic stars such as Simone Biles have popped up in the media scrum, Brady still had to field the usual array of wacky questions ranging from Madonna (not a fan) to Game of Thrones (doesn’t watch it).

“This could never get old,” Brady reflected later.

Brady meanwhile said he had no advice to give Eagles quarterback Foles, who was just 13 years old when he was winning his first Super Bowl for the Patriots in 2002.

“He knows what to do,” Brady said. “He’s a professional quarterback. He’s a great player, he’s been a great player since he came in the league. I’ve seen a lot of great things from Nick and I know he’ll do a great job.”

On his own future, Brady said he hoped to play on for as long as his health allowed. He has spoken of playing until 45, but remains realistic.

“Well, I never want to be a detriment to the team,” he said. “So I think for me, as long as I’m playing at a high level and I make the commitment to take care of myself year-round, I’ll continue to play.

“So I don’t know, things change quickly. Anything can happen, but obviously I want to keep playing. I just love playing for the Patriots.”

The Patriots’ march through the playoffs was overshadowed by reports of discord behind the scenes, with ESPN suggesting a rift had emerged between Brady, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.

Although all three men denied the report, the Patriots are expected to face a high turnover in coaching personnel this close season, with offensive co-ordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive counterpart Matt Patricia both expected to pursue head coaching positions.

Kraft was sanguine about the possible departures.

“I think we’ve had five or six of our people who are either general managers or head coaches at other teams,” Kraft said.

“It’s a credit, as long as we don’t populate the whole league, but if we’re worthy, I mean, I think it’s a great credit to Bill (Belichick) and the coaching staff for what they’ve been able to accomplish.”