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Brady: Excited to be a Buc, looks at future, not the past

By Tom King - Staff Writer | Mar 25, 2020

AP photo Former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady spoke with the media on a conference call Tuesday afternoon, but there weren't too many things revealed about his departure from New England.

Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady – looks strange, doesn’t it – took the high road in his 30 minute media conference call on Tuesday.

But he did offer just a tinge of revealing information, saying that while he was with Robert Kraft in a farewell meeting at one of Kraft’s homes last Monday, he was also on the phone with Patriots coach Bill Belichick and also spoke with Patriots VP Jonathan Kraft.

Brady was asked when he mentally cut the cord with being a Patriots, and said it was that night.

“It was that night that I stopped by and spoke with Mr. Kraft that I could come over and see him,” Brady said. “And we spoke and we had a great conversation. I just wanted to express what he has meant to me in my life, and we spoke with Coach Belichick at the same time, we were in different locations. We talked to him, it was a great conversation. Got a chance to talk to Jonathan Kraft as well.

“All three of those guys have been involved in so many important decisions in my life — career related, personal related. I leave there with just great admiration for the people in that organization and it’s a world class, first class organization in every way. And I want to leave it that way too.

“I know the Patriots have a great team. They always do. They have great players, great leadership, great coaches, I certainly wish them the best. But for me, I’ve got a transition, focus on the opportunity that I have and make the current situation I can as best I possibly can.”

In other words, for Brady, it’s all Tampa all the time now.

“They hired me to a job here, and I’m going in there and do it like you’ve always seen me do for a long time. Like the fans have always seen me do, like opposing coaches, my teammates have seen me do. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got like I’ve done everything in my life for as long as I’ve been playing this sport.”

Brady was also asked about Kraft’s comments that leaving the Patriots is what he wanted.

“Again, I’m not responsible for how other people will say certain things,” Brady said. “Mr. Kraft has been a great influence on my life. I’m so grateful for two decades…I’m sure when I’m done playing I’ll have a chance to look back and re-evaluate my entire career.

“At the same time I’m excited for this opportunity that I have. I can only speak to how I feel. … Getting to be a free agent, and having the opportunity to join the Bucs is something I’m excited about, and that’s why we’re at where we’re at.”

He was also asked if he was disappointed that the Patriots didn’t make more of an effort to keep him in New England.

“I have a great deal of respect for – there’s nobody who’s been a bigger fan of the Patriots than me,” he said. “I have nothing but total respect and love and I’m so grateful to Mr. Kraft and the organization and Coach Belichick and all the coaches and obviously all my teammates. …

“I have so many great relationships that will maintained. … It will be certainly different, but at the same time, that’s the way life can be at times. What won’t be different is my approach to the game.”

Bucs coach Bruce Arians said during the call that while the team didn’t really think when last season ended that Brady would be available, they had decided that if by some chance he was, they would go hard after him for a big reason.

“He can do everything we want to do in our offense, but more than that is his leadership ability that we need in our lockerroom,” Arians said, “to get to where we want to go.

“Once that (Brady officially a free agent) became a reality, it was full bore ahead, let’s do what we’ve got to do and see if we can get things done.”

Brady was asked to compare his situation to when a player he idolized, San Francisco 49ers great Joe Montana, left the Niners and signed with the Chiefs decades ago.

“I just think that life, it continues to change for all of us,” he said. “Just having the opportunity for me to continue to play football and lead a team, it’s something I love doing.”

Brady said what he’s going through, changing teams after 20 years, is something people do in all walks of life, including in the NFL.

“There’s a lot of change,” Brady said. “It’s just that. You look to the northeast to the south, the climate’s different, there’s a lot of things that will be a little bit different. My drive to work will be different. A lot of things.

“It’s not like I’m 25 where I basically pack a suitcase and go. I’ve got three kids. It’s just changing a little bit of our life, but that’s life. That’s what people do. That’s what you do when you have opportunity for other jobs at other places. There’s a lot of coaches that deal with that, there’s a lot of players who have dealt with that. They deal with it every year.

“In that sense, I’m no different than what several other people have gone through. And you do the best you can do and you make the transition as smooth as possible. Again, for me what’s most important is to try to make a smooth transition with my family just so I can get to work on the things I need to focus on. Hopefully I can get those things finished here in the next couple of weeks.”

And then Brady said he can concentrate on studying the Bucs playbook and calling his new teammates. He said that he can’t let the COVID-19 pandemic prevent him from preparing for the 2020 season.

“That doesn’t stop me from figuring out in my professional life what I’ve got to do,learn the things I need to learn, and train the way I need to train,” he said. “As far as I know there’s nothing that’s delaying the start of our season at this point, and I’ve got to do everything can to do to be prepared in an off-season where we’re not dealing with everything we’re dealing with.”

What would it have taken for him to stay in New England?

“I don’t want to talk about the past, because it’s not relevant to what’s important in my future and what’s going on this off-season for me,” he said. “I’ve had nothing but two decades of an incredible experience, and learning from some of the best players, the best coaches, and ownership of the team.

“I think for all of us things in life can change, and you’ve got to be able to adapt and evolve. With each change comes an opportunity to learn and grow. And that’s where I’m at.

Anytime you leave somewhere it’s very emotional, and the transition has been very emotional with a lot of guys that I’ve talked to that I shared the field with. The relationships are what matters most to me.

But it’s clearn now his official relationship with the New England Patriots is over.

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Brady wasn’t the only current or former Patriot who talked about his current situation on Tuesday.

McCourty said in a revealing essay on the Players Tribune (theplayerstribune.com) that when the season ended, he was set to become, like Brady, a free agent as well. But once the Patriots picked up the option of his twin brother Jason, the thinking of moving on all but evaporated.

“After 10 years and winning three Super Bowls, something inside was telling me that I was ready for a new challenge,” McCourty wrote. “And I thought I might have to go elsewhere to find it.”

But after twin brother Jason’s option was picked up, he said he thought back to a day last season when his mother came up from New Jersey and the whole family was together.

“As much as I wanted a new challenge in my career, I also told myself from the jump that if there was an opportunith to play with my brother again, I would take it,” he said.

McCourth also said that he’s not buying into the fact that the Patriots can’t succeed without Brady.

“People are going to say that because Tom’s gone, the dynasty is over,” he said. “They’re already burying us, far as I can tell. That’s fine. Let ’em. We’ve never listened to the noise, and we’re not about to start now. But the task is definitely taller this coming year than it has been in year’s past.

“There’s more work to do. And it’s not gonna be so easy this time around.”

“I thought I had to leave New England to find what I was looking for. But it turns out there is no greater challenge for me right now than leading this Patriots team into a new era and helping ensure that this next wave of players can continue our legacy and build onw what we’ve already achieved as a franchise.”

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Don’t expect any free agent deals to become official the way Brady’s has. The NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) has decided that it won’t have its members conduct any more physicals with free agents and “non-Combine players until the health crisis has passed.”

Team facilities have been shut down around the league but Brady was able to get a physical done with another doctor, presumably in New York.

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