SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Tom Brady says he'll be fit to play in the Super Bowl, and that includes his world-famous right ankle.
"It's feeling good. I'll be ready to go," the New England Patriots quarterback said Sunday night when the AFC champions met the media for the first time shortly after arriving in Phoenix.
Brady, making his first comments since beating San Diego in the AFC championship game a week ago, walked up the three short steps to the podium with ease, showing no signs of the injury that has become THE hot topic since he was spotted wearing a protective boot last Monday.
Though he was in great spirits — laughing, smiling and taking "Gisele" questions in stride, Brady also acknowledged he got hurt in the Patriots' 21-12 victory in the AFC title game.
"It was in the San Diego game, I think in the third quarter," Brady said, adding that it came on a sack. The injury is reportedly a minor high ankle sprain.
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.
"I'm not concerned about how it's going to affect my play," he said. "This won't keep me out."
Last Monday, he was caught on videotape sporting a protective boot on his right foot while visiting supermodel girlfriend Gisele Bundchen in New York. The sight of the boot caused a major stir and concern among Patriots fans and bolstered Giants fans hopes for an upset.
But even after he returned to Foxborough two days later, there were no quick answers about the "boot" because Brady was nowhere to be found when reporters went looking for him in the locker room and at practice.
Whatever. The dapper, dimple-chinned quarterback certainly looked fine Sunday.
"I mean how good does it feel for me to see him walking around? I really don't care how he's walking around," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "He'll be walking around fine Sunday."
Coach Bill Belichick, who spoke before Brady, was typically tight-lipped about the injury and 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, wearing a navy, pinstriped suit and sweater vest, his white shirt open at the collar, smiled throughout the news conference and was in a playful mood. Asked about the ankle once again, he interrupted the reporter and said, "Last question of the week."
THE ankle has been the subject of endless rumors and gossip since THE quarterback was caught on camera last week heading up the steps of a town house to see his girlfriend, flowers in hand.
"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."
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)."
Probably not, but the MVP quarterback is one of the most closely watched athletes in all of sports.
"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."
While Brady appeared comfortable and at ease at the podium, Belichick was his usual gruff, monotone self — except when he talked glowingly about Brady, Bruschi, the Giants and the scheduled halftime performer, Tom Petty.
"I think it's great," he said of Petty, with a half-smile. "I wish I could stand out there and listen to it, but I'll have some of his CDs playing in my office this week. That'll put me in the mood: "Free Fallin'."
Belichick made no revelations — surprise! — during the more than 20 minutes, but insisted he doesn't despise dealing with the media each day during the week leading up to the big game.
"Not at all," he said. "I think you have a job to do and you are our connection between our football team, our fans, and the people who have an interest in the game. I respect the job that you do and hope that you respect the job I do."
It's hard not to, especially considering his winning resume. Belichick has a chance to join Pittsburgh's Chuck Noll as the only coaches to win four Super Bowl titles. The outside distractions that come with playing in the big game are a welcomed nuisance for Belichick.
"It's the trip you want to be on, I can tell you that," he said. "You spend all season trying to get to this point. We're proud to be here, just excited to be here."
Standing in the Patriots' path to perfection is a familiar opponent in the Giants, who nearly upset them before falling 38-35 in Week 17. The Patriots also beat them in the preseason — a game in which Brady didn't play.
"We are taking it one game at a time," defensive end Richard Seymour said. "We understand what the Giants present and we are trying to win this one game and we'll let you guys decide our place in history."