Brady acknowledges injury; says he'll 'be ready to go'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Relax, Patriots fans. A smiling Tom Brady says not to worry about his much publicized and photographed ankle. It won't keep him out of Sunday's Super Bowl.

New England's star quarterback walked up the three short steps to the podium with ease Sunday night, showing no signs of the right ankle injury that had become such a hot topic since he was spotted wearing a protective boot last Monday.

"It's feeling good. I'll be ready to go," Brady said as the AFC champions met the media for the first time shortly after arriving in Phoenix.

It was also the first time Brady acknowledged he was injured in the AFC championship game.

"It was in the San Diego game, I think in the third quarter," Brady said, referring to the Patriots' 21-12 victory last Sunday.

Brady hasn't practiced since, but said he moved a little bit during the week and "shuffled around."

"I'm not concerned about how it's going to affect my play," he said. "This won't keep me out."

The face of New England's franchise reportedly has a minor high ankle sprain. He wore a protective boot on his right foot last Monday in New York while visiting supermodel girlfriend Gisele Bundchen, causing a major stir and concern among Patriots fans.

"I was just trying to get into the house as fast as I could," Brady said. "I was trying to hobble along. It kind of caught me off guard."

New England will try to become the first team in NFL history to finish 19-0 when it plays the New York Giants in the Super Bowl next Sunday.

After returning to Foxborough on Wednesday, Brady wasn't spotted by the media the next two days while reporters were allowed into the locker room and at practice.

"I was glad to be back in New England and in the insulated atmosphere of our locker room," he said.

It sure wasn't safe on the streets of New York for Brady.

"Yeah, it's been an interesting week," he said. "I'm much lighter on my toes than I thought."

Brady also issued a playful warning: "Don't any of you chase me around. I won't be nearly as nice as I was last week."

That was when he was followed by paparazzi as he exited a taxi in New York, with a handful of flowers for his girlfriend. Later that day and on Tuesday, he wasn't wearing the boot when photographed.

"It's just part of the world we're living in," he said. "Those places I went for refuge, I guess I can't go anymore. If we were 0-16, nobody would (care)."

Coach Bill Belichick, who spoke before Brady, wouldn't address the injury or Brady's status.

"We'll update our injury report on Wednesday," Belichick said with a smirk. "And, I look forward to it, too."

When Brady was asked, he grinned and said, "How's the ankle? What did Coach say?"

The reporter responded with: "He said ask you."

Brady laughed and shook his head.

"Did he?" he said. "Wow, that's different."

Brady, who stood at the podium in a navy, pinstriped suit, with a navy vest and his white shirt open at the collar, smiled throughout the news conference and was in a playful mood. When asked about the ankle once again, he interrupted the reporter and said, "Last question of the week."

He then went through the details one more time and closed with, "Good? That work?"

Earlier Sunday, Brady appeared in front of reporters and photographers in Foxborough for the first time since the game against the Chargers. At a departure rally shortly before the team buses left for their trip to Phoenix, he walked without slipping on a light dusting of snow on the Gillette Stadium field as flurries fell.

"Now this is Foxborough faithful right here," Brady told the cheering crowd of about 15,000 after he reached the podium at midfield along the Patriots sideline. "We can just go ahead and play the game today. Thank you guys for coming out."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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