After striking a deal to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, Tom Brady had his introductory press conference with his new team Tuesday via a conference call (a necessary format given the coronavirus pandemic) with NFL reporters.
And though Brady largely kept many of his answers close to the vest – hard to tell if he’ll stray from the “Patriot Way” of providing as few sound bites as possible – he did shed some light on why he’s chosen to relocate to Tampa after spending the first two decades of his incomparable career with the New England Patriots.
“It’s an exciting moment for me in my life,” said Brady of the free agent journey he opted to embark on by having out clauses woven into his final deal with the Pats.
“Entering something that’s obviously very unique to me – first time it’s happened in 20 years. I’m kinda taking it day by day.”
Last week, he agreed to a two-year, $50 million contract with the Bucs that could balloon to $59 million if certain incentives are met. General manager Jason Licht said pursuit of Brady was the Buccaneers’ “No. 1 priority” this offseason.
“There were a lot of things that really were intriguing to me about the organization – the players, and the coaches, and the willingness of everyone to try to accomplish the goal of what playing football is, which is to win,” Brady said of Tampa Bay, talking up new teammates like receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin while not making any predictions about the team’s 2020 outlook on the heels of a 7-9 season.
“I’m going to try to do everything I can in my position and what I’m responsible for to make that happen. And I’ve got to trust that everyone else is doing the exact same thing. In that part, it’s no different than what I’ve experienced for 20 years in my own role.”
The Buccaneers last made the playoffs in 2007 but haven’t won a postseason game since beating the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII following the 2002 campaign. Tampa Bay has six playoff victories in its 44-season history. Brady has six Super Bowl rings.
Brady said he didn’t make the determination he was leaving New England until March 16, when the free agent negotiation window opened. He visited Patriots owner Robert Kraft at his Brookline, Massachusetts, home that night to inform him of the decision. Coach Bill Belichick was also notified that evening.
“I’m not responsible for how other people with say certain things,” Brady said of his departure. “Mr. Kraft
has been a great influence in my life for two decades.
“When I’m done playing, I’ll look back and have a chance to re-evaluate my entire career. … But at the same time, I’m excited for the opportunity I have.”
Brady later added of his time in New England: “There’s nobody who’s been a bigger fan of the New England Patriots than me. … I have so many great relationships that will be maintained.”
Now he embarks on life – one that continues to be complicated by the COVID-19 outbreak – with the Bucs and coach Bruce Arians, he of the “no risk it, no biscuit philosophy.”
As Brady leaves the “Patriot Way” behind, he’ll also have to find a way to meld with Arians.
“I’ve obviously paid attention to he and his offense for a long time,” said Brady of his brash coach. “Everybody has a somewhat different styles and philosophies of how they call things and so forth. But football, to me, is about throwing the ball to the guy who’s open.
“You get the ball to the guys who can do something with it. There’s some really talented players here on this offense that have very unique skills sets. And it’s really my responsibility – I have one ball, and I gotta be able to deliver that ball to the guy who can do something with it.”
Sounds like the biscuit will be far more carefully guarded than it was by Jameis Winston in 2019, when he led the NFL with 30 interceptions.
Brady now has to move his family to Florida. Asked if he’ll obtain No. 12 from Godwin once he arrives, Brady suggested it wasn’t a priority right now, his focus instead aimed at learning his new teammates – an objective he hopes can be eased by technology given the current difficulties of travel, not to mention convening a group of players on a football field.
“You’ve just got to try to manage it as best as possible,” Brady said of the environment borne of coronavirus.. “The important part is everyone’s trying to make it work. And everyone’s trying to figure out how to adjust and adapt to some new realities that we’re all facing.
“Again, I’m not making any predictions about that, I’m just gonna take it day to day with how I’m doing. And I’m gonna try to learn things I need to learn. One day at a time is a cliché, but it’s definitely not a cliché in the way that I’m trying to live my life right now. It’s just been a new reality for all of us.”