When Tom Brady was introduced to reporters as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ new quarterback via a conference call on Tuesday, a wild week that drastically changed the NFL and will be talked about for quite some time came to an end.
Seven days earlier, Brady took to social media to announce his departure from a New England Patriots team with which he won six Super Bowls and spent 20 of the almost 43 years of his life. A short time later, Tampa Bay emerged as the front-runner for his services. Following a quick hold-up due to his physical in light of the current Coronavirus pandemic, Brady officially signed a two-year, $50 million deal with the Buccaneers last Friday.
Brady’s move from New England to Tampa Bay was numerous months in the making — instead of agreeing to a reported two-year, $53 million contract offer from the Patriots last summer he opted for a one-year raise plus the freedom to enter free agency in 2020 — but that does not mean his departure was any less emotional. The future Hall of Famer acknowledged this during his introductory conference all earlier this week.
“Any time you leave somewhere it’s emotional and the transition has been very emotional with a lot of guys that I’ve talked to that I’ve shared the field with because the relationships are what matter most to me. And I’m going to be friends with my teammates, my former teammates and coaches for the rest of my life,” Brady said about departing New England in free agency. “That’s not going to leave just because I’m wearing a different jersey.”
While Brady openly spoke about the emotional element of leaving the Patriots after two decades and the most successful stretch in NFL history, he offered little additional detail about his departure during the 30-minute call. One nugget did still stand out, however: Brady detailed the process of notifying the Patriots’ ownership and head coach Bill Belichick about his decision to move on from the organization, and when he made it.
“It was really the night that I spoke with Mr. Kraft and asked if I could come over and see him,” Brady said about his meeting with the Patriots’ decision makers last Monday. “We spoke and had a great conversation and I just wanted to express what he’s meant to me in my life. We spoke with Coach Belichick at the same time. We were in different locations, so we talked to him and it was a great conversation. I got a chance to talk to Jonathan Kraft as well.”
“All three of those guys have been involved with so many important decisions in my life — career-related, personal-related — and I leave there with great admiration for the people in that organization. It’s a world-class, first-class organization in every way and I wanted to leave it that way too,” continued Brady. “It’s been an amazing thing for my family and I’m sure when I’m done playing I’ll look back and have a chance to reevaluate my entire career.”
Brady generally spoke highly of his time with the Patriots. He voiced his admiration for the team’s ownership and head coach Bill Belichick numerous times, successfully maneuvering through questions by the New England-based media members partaking in the call. Along the way, he also recognized that the team’s foundation — one that he helped build as a long-time team captain — will help its transition from one quarterback to the next.
“I know the Patriots have a great team, they always do. They have great players, great leadership, great coaches, and I certainly wish them the best,” Brady said about his former club. “There’s nobody who’s a bigger fan of the New England Patriots than me. I have nothing but total respect and love. I’m so grateful to Mr. Kraft and the organization and Coach Belichick and all the coaches, and obviously all my teammates.”
“It’s been a lot of days responding to a lot of incredible text messages from my teammates, from former teammates, from a lot of great people I got to meet over the years,” he added. “I have so many great relationships that will be maintained and I think that’s the greatest gift that football has brought me is the relationships that I’ve had with so many of the people I’ve worked with. It’ll certainly be different, but at the same time that’s the way life can be at times.”