PHOENIX — It’s not easy being Tom Brady these days.

His life has always seemed a little too good to believe.

He’s handsome, rich, successful, polite, articulate, humble and married to a supermodel.

His every move is recorded, even the sniffling cold he endured as he prepared for Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

So you can see why there would always be people jealous of the 37-year-old quarterback for the New England Patriots.

But these last two weeks, Brady has also had to deal with something he’s never experienced: doubt and mistrust.

At the center of it is the NFL investigation into whether the Patriots used illegal under-inflated footballs in their 45-7 AFC championship victory over the Indianapolis Colts. As the quarterback, Brady is smack in the middle of it, even if he hasn’t been interviewed by league officials.

When he denied having anything to do with it – or even knowing about it – in a press conference

that had him on his heels throughout, you either believed him or you. didn’t. And those who didn’t – including some former NFL quarterbacks – came down on him hard, calling him a liar and a cheat, and attacking the integrity and legacy of a man who led the Patriots to three Super Bowl championships.

He’s been the focus of criticism before, even earlier this year when football experts said he was no longer an elite quarterback after struggling mightily in New England’s 41-14 loss to Kansas City.

But this? This was different. This wasn’t about skills. It was personal. And it hurt.

He said so on his weekly appearance on WEEI the day the Patriots left for the Super Bowl: “I personalized a lot of things and thought this was all about me, and my feelings got hurt,” he said. “And then I moved past it because it’s not serving me.”

So he turned all his concentration to preparing for the biggest challenge the Patriots’ offense will face this season in Seattle’s top-ranked defense. He deflected any questions about Deflategate. He hunkered down in his game preparation.

The Patriots need him to be at his best against the Seahawks and their Legion of Boom secondary. If he’s even slightly off, the Patriots will be in trouble. Seattle’s defense, led by cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell, and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, will pounce on every misfire, every errant throw, and make life miserable for Brady.

It won’t be known until he gets on the field if the controversy affected his game prep, but his teammates didn’t seem concerned. They expect him to be ready.

And if he is, said LeGarrette Blount, the Patriots have a great chance.

“Personally, I feel like he’s probably going to go down as the best quarterback to ever play the game,” said Blount. “When he’s on your side, you always have a chance of winning the game, no matter what the score is or who you’re playing against.”

Brady’s legacy is set. This is a man who has won three Super Bowl championships, six AFC championships, two MVP awards, two Super Bowl MVP awards, and has nearly every franchise record and many NFL postseason passing records.

But he still has a chance to make history Sunday. If the Patriots defeat the Seahawks, he will tie Pittsburgh’s Terry Bradshaw and San Francisco’s Joe Montana – his idol growing up in California – for most Super Bowl wins (four) by a starting quarterback.

“It’s hard to think about those things,” said Brady. “I’ve been fortunate to be on some great teams. Those guys are unbelievable players, they were so great for the league. They were great teams.”

The Seahawks know what they’re going against.

Thomas called him a “general” and a “warrior.”

“He’s a good quarterback, great quarterback,” said Chancellor, who will likely lock up with tight end Rob Gronkowski, Brady’s top option in the passing game. “He knows where he wants to go with the ball. He knows how the defense wants to try and attack him. He goes for your weaknesses.”

The Seahawks also seem to know another side of Brady. After Seattle rallied to beat the Patriots 24-23 back in 2012, with Russell Wilson throwing two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, Sherman was videotaped getting in Brady’s face after the game and saying, “You mad, bro?”

Sherman said that was because Brady was doing a little trash talking of his own when the Patriots had the lead.

“I think people somehow get a skewed view of Tom Brady,” Sherman told some reporters before the Seahawks arrived in Arizona. “That he’s just a clean-cut guy that does everything right and never says a bad word to anyone. We know him to be otherwise.”

But, Sherman said this week, that makes Brady – who completed 36 of 58 passes for 395 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions in that 2012 game – a little more special too.

“He’s a little more fiery than the rest of the quarterbacks,” said Sherman. “A lot of the quarterbacks try to stay even keel throughout the game and not get too high, not get too low. He’ll show his emotions a little more than the rest of them.”

Yeah, Brady’s not afraid to get in a defender’s face if he feels the need, nor does he stop himself from head-butting a teammate after a big play. He’s been known to run the length of the field to embrace a teammate after a touchdown.

That, said Gronkowski, is simply Brady being Brady.

“His competitive nature is second to none,” said Gronkowski. “If you shoot basketball with him, playing a game of PIG, he’s going full-out, full-out trying to win that game. He doesn’t care who it’s against.

“He’s maybe one of the top competitors I’ve ever met and it just brings it out in everyone when it comes to game time.”

His teammates know whatever Brady had to deal with this week, he will be ready for the Seahawks.

“We look to him,” said Matthew Slater, New England’s special teams ace. “Everybody on this team looks to him and as he goes, we go. We have a lot of confidence in him as a player, as a leader, as a teammate and as a friend. We’re thankful he’s on our side.”

Brady was asked several times this week if he’s thought about his legacy and his six Super Bowl starts – which will set an NFL record.

“It’s amazing sitting here and thinking this is the sixth time I’ll be doing this,” he said. “It’s really a privilege. I’ve been very lucky over the years to play on great teams.”

He admitted that he probably took his early success for granted. The Patriots won three Super Bowls in his first four years. They have lost their last two appearances.

“I was so young that I didn’t understand what this was about and how challenging this is because everything happened so fast at such an early part of my career,” he said. “I think over the years we’ve gotten some tough losses. And obviously we made it in (2007 and 2011), those were challenging games.

“They came down to the wire and we lost. I don’t think those things discouraged me at all. They just re-emphasized how hard and challenging it is to get to this point, and how challenging it is to win this game. I have such an appreciation for it now. That’s why I’m hoping we can accomplish and finally finish it off with a great win on Sunday. It would mean an awful lot.”

In so many ways.

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