Tom Brady has never had a media session quite like this.
Much like coach Bill Belichick's memorable news conference Wednesday, the Patriots quarterback struck a serious tone Thursday when addressing reporters for the first time since Aaron Hernandez's June 26 arrest on a murder charge.
"It's a very sad thing," Brady said.
Brady echoed many of the same sentiments as his coach, saying he wanted to "follow Belichick's lead." Brady also went through all the great leaders that New England has had over the years, and he spoke about wanting to move on from Hernandez.
Brady was far less expansive on his emotions.
"Those feelings were just personal," Brady said when asked about his initial reaction to the Hernandez news. "I'm sure they were probably like everyone else's six weeks ago. It's hard to remember the exact emotion. You have them. ... At some point, I have to get back to doing my job. My emotions, they're important, but they come and go."
Brady was asked if he heard from Hernandez after the story surfaced.
"I can't comment on any of that," Brady said after a long pause. "It's a good question, but I'm not supposed to comment on any of those things. ... I'm really not supposed to comment on Aaron."
Brady talked about the responsibility of never creating distractions for his teammates. He also talked about the great relationships he has with teammates and "representing the community." And Brady seemed at a loss to explain how things could turn out the way they did with one of his former teammates.
More than anything, Brady emphasized that the Hernandez distraction will not be used as an excuse.
"The fate of our season is going to be determined by the guys in our locker room and nothing else," Brady said. "... You talk about the Patriot Way, and to me that means mental toughness, it means dealing with different situations and adversities over the course of a season and offseason and how you can put those things behind you and focus on your job."Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.