When you visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ official website, you are greeted by Tom Brady. There are pictures and videos of him, numerous articles detailing his legendary past accomplishments and what he might bring to his new team, and a prominent banner atop that says “GET IN NOW FOR 2020!” — urging fans to buy season tickets — flanked by both the team’s logo and the future Hall of Fame quarterback’s face.
The Buccaneers are excited about signing Tom Brady. As they should be.
While the New England Patriots are headed in a different direction that likely involves starting second-year man Jarrett Stidham at Brady’s old position, the 42-year-old’s new team is on cloud nine after adding the highest-profile free agent and most successful player in NFL history. The “Brady Effect” was immediate once news broke on Tuesday that he was expected to come to Tampa Bay on what was later reported to be a two-year contract.
According to Eduardo A. Encina and Mari Faiello of the Tampa Bay Times, the online queue for Buccaneers season tickets was nearly 7,000 people deep within an hour of the first credible reports coming out. And while the team itself does not release any statistics about the rush for tickets even with TB12 headed for TB, they did acknowledge that their online ticketing system has had an unprecedented amount of traffic on Tuesday evening.
At least in the short term, signing Brady appears to be a franchise-altering move. Gone are the days of the Buccaneers being an afterthought, and generating little public interest. Just last season and despite having a new head coach in Bruce Arians, the team ranked just 30th in the league in terms of home attendance with only 51,898 fans showing up in 65,618-seat Raymond James Stadium per game. Brady will unquestionably change this.
Just look at the last time the six-time world champion visited town. Back in 2017, the Patriots played the Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football and 64,476 fans were in attendance — the team’s largest home crowd that season. With Brady in the fold, Tampa Bay has a level of star power in the fold unlike anything it has ever had. Not even Jon Gruden, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch at the height of their early-2000s powers compare.
Brady’s impact, of course, extends far beyond what he means to pro football in the city.
His on-field impact cannot be understated either, and he has quickly catapulted the club to the group of potential Super Bowl favorites without having played a single down in head coach Bruce Arians’ system. Brady’s championship pedigree and legendary status as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, however, follow him around wherever he goes. The official statements released by Arians and Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht reflect this as well.
“Tom is a proven champion who has achieved greatness on the field because he demands the best out of himself and his teammates,” said Licht, whose previous stops include New England. “I’ve known Tom since we drafted him in New England 20 years ago and through this process it became very clear that his desire to be a champion burns as strong today as it ever has. He possesses the type of rare natural leadership qualities that will immediately impact our entire organization.”
“Tom is the most successful quarterback in the history of our league, but what makes him so special is his ability to make those around him better,” added Arians. “I have had the privilege to work with some of the best passers in our game, and the characteristics they all possessed were the ability to lead and get the best out of their teammates. Tom is no different. He is a proven winner who will provide the leadership, accountability and work ethic necessary to lead us to our goal of winning another championship.”
Licht and Arians have landed a coup by bringing Brady on board for two seasons. While it remains to be seen how well the two sides match, and whether or not he can really elevate the team from relative obscurity to serious Super Bowl contenders, the Buccaneers have a lot to feel good about for now.