BOSTON (CBS) -- Tom Brady had a very unique offseason, and that is certainly an understatement.
In years past, the four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback has had to put up with people criticizing his dance moves or the joy he displayed when flying down a water slide. This year was a little different.
There were still people causing a commotion over an offseason cliff jump, but as Brady explained a few months ago, most guys will do just about anything for a woman -- especially if she just so happens to be the most famous supermodel in the world.
But this offseason was much, much different for Brady. Like the rest of us, he had to endure eight months of non-stop talk about air pressure in footballs. He had the weight of a four-game suspension weighing on his shoulders as he prepared to defend the Patriots' latest Super Bowl title, and his legacy was called into question by countless talking heads. Fans in opposing cities want to have an asterisk added to all of his accomplishments over the last 15 seasons, and the word "Cheater" often follows his name in most conversations outside of the New England area.
When you've been one of the faces of the most powerful sports league in the country, criticism is nothing new. But the possibility of Brady being banned from playing over a few puffs of air was a very real threat, until a federal judge ruled the NFL overstepped in their punishment of Brady, and threw the suspension in the garbage.
Those months leading up to Judge Richard Berman's decision just a week before the regular season had to have been a bit distracting for Brady, right? It's not ideal for anyone to split time between training camp and federal court in New York, and at some point, all of the DeflateGate madness had to have worn him down just a little bit.
But believe it or not, all of that was (and still is) just white noise to No. 12.
"There is nothing like running out onto the field with my teammates. That's what my focus has always been on," Brady told Scott Zolak on Friday night's edition of Patriots All Access on WBZ-TV. "To have the fortune to be able to do that the last three weeks has been awesome. I did it in the preseason and I've been able to do it the last month, which is great.
"It's what I love to do. I've always just thought about football," Brady said. "It's been a love of mine the last 25 years, whether it was touch football in the street or flag football at school or finally when I started playing tackle football in high school. There's nothing I love more than being out on the field with my teammates."
If Roger Goodell had his way, Brady would not have played a single snap the month of September. Instead, Brady went out and threw for a league-leading 1,112 yards and nine touchdowns as the Patriots beat the Steelers, Bills and Jaguars, and was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month.
The offense is firing on all cylinders, and Brady looks better than ever. In addition to the aerial assaults he's been delivering, the 38-year-old has also continued to improve his footwork. A few times this season Brady has bought his targets a few extra seconds with even the slightest duck or sidestep in the pocket, letting his receivers create some extra space between themselves and an opposing defender.
Even with an already Hall of Fame-worthy resume -- filled with 163 regular season wins, 401 touchdown passes and those four Lombardi trophies -- Brady takes pride in taking those little steps towards getting even better.
"I work pretty hard to try to continue to push myself to improve. A lot of it is I see so many young players being outside of the pocket or extending plays. Whether it's Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger, I'll never be able to do what they do. If I can cherry-pick one or two plays a game outside of the pocket, where the play breaks down, I think that's tough on the other team," he explained. "A lot of times they're like, 'Look, Brady is in the pocket, he'll be five yards behind the center, let's just get out to that spot.' Then they get there, and we're getting the ball out quick, all of a sudden I make a play and maybe it demoralizes them a little bit. The more I can do of it the more I can help the team.
"Fortunately we get a lot of guys open just by calling plays and guys running routes. The one or two times a game it doesn't work out the way we want, to be able to extend it and turn it into an ad-lib play, it ends up being a big bonus for our team," he added.
While Brady is the conductor of New England's offensive orchestra, he points to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as a big part of the team's success. Brady says he always feels comfortable talking about any new wrinkle to the offense with McDaniels, no matter the time of day. He's had a few pre-dawn text exchanges with McDaniels, and often times, they're already on the same page.
"He is a perfectionist to the umph degree. He wants to do the very best he can ever day, every game," Brady said of McDaniels, now in his 12th year and second stint with the Pats. "Nobody is better than him. He's an incredible coach. We've been together so long that a lot of times we see things the same way. He has really high expectations for me and I like that he pushes me. It gets the most out of our entire offense. He doesn't back down from anything and is as aggressive now as he's ever been, which I love. We have a good thing going."
Of course, everything starts at the top with Bill Belichick. Brady is still in awe of Belichick's ability to adapt to the changing NFL each year, a trait that his players emulate because of their coach.
"He's a great example for all of us. It's amazing, his focus and his ability to coach. He's so efficient in what he does. He knows exactly what he is looking for," Brady said of his head coach. "He oversees everything, and he's just a great coach. He's great to play for; to be in the situation I'm in with the same coach, and with the Kraft family, I've been very blessed to play this position for this long.
"The stability and what we've been able to accomplish, is pretty cool. Hopefully it doesn't end anytime soon," he said.
Patriots All Access airs every Friday night during the football season on WBZ-TV at 7pm!
for more features.