By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady is as fiery as they come, even at his elevated age. After all, you can’t last in the NFL for 20 years if you don’t play with a certain level of passion.

Despite that incredibly high level of competitiveness, Brady has managed to avoid letting his emotions spill over too much. The quarterback has certainly gotten in the ear of many officials over the years — most recently to argue that he didn’t commit intentional grounding, seemingly every weekend — but has managed to stay within the rules.

With Thursday night’s ugly incident between Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph garnering most of the attention of the football world on Friday, the Patriots’ quarterback was asked for his perspective on the melee. Brady said that Bill Belichick prepares the team well when it comes to being ready for moments of heightened emotions, and the 42-year-old recalled one moment from very early in his career when he failed to keep his composure.

“It’s an emotional game, so I think I got a penalty in 2002, I think I only got one penalty for an unsportsmanlike penalty, and I pushed someone back against Chicago,” Brady recalled. “Probably my only unsportsmanlike penalty.”

After a brief moment of reflection, Brady admitted, “Probably deserved more.”

“People play with emotion, and it’s a physical sport,” Brady added. “So you try to do the best you can do.”

Earlier on Friday, Belichick was asked about the skirmish.

“Every situation’s different,” Belichick said. “There’s no two that are the same. We can go back and look at 50 of these through the years, some type of fighting or ejections or whatever. They’re all a little bit different. I wouldn’t say that it’s like offside penalties. There’s a lot of … different things happen, different situations, so forth and so on. But yeah, fundamentally, I tell players what we should do in those situations, how we should handle them, and I think they’ve done a good job of it.”

Brady added some more detail to those coaching lessons from the coach.

“Yeah I think Coach Belichick tries to use it as teaching moments,” Brady shared. “So he talks about not throwing punches, not touching the referees and staying on the sidelines.”

A check of Brady’s history shows that his memory is correct. There have been 53 accepted penalties assessed to Brady in his career, with that shove in 2002 serving as his lone unnecessary roughness penalty. He’s been flagged 23 times for intentional grounding, 20 times for delay of game, five times for a false start, twice for illegal forward passes, and once each for an illegal shift, an illegal substitution and an illegal motion.

Interestingly enough, Brady was credited on the game broadcast by color commentator Randy Cross in that 2002 game for providing a spark for the offense, despite the 15 penalty yards. Sure enough, Brady ran for 13 yards several plays after taking the penalty to help set up a field goal. That was part of the Patriots storming back to beat the Bears 33-30 after trailing 27-6 late in the first half. Brady threw a touchdown to Kevin Faulk with 2:46 remaining, and after the New England defense forced a Chicago punt, Brady hit David Patten for the game-winning touchdown with just 28 seconds left in the game.

Unlike Garrett, Brady managed to avoid getting hit with an indefinite suspension back in his rough and rowdy days of 2002. But based on his (mostly) good behavior over the 17 years since, it’s clear that he has learned his lesson on where to draw the line.

Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Eagles clash on WBZ-TV — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay, with the game kicking off at 4:25 p.m. After the game switch over to TV38 for Patriots 5th Quarter!


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