With the 2021 Superbowl, Tom Brady is again headline news. For two decades Quarterback Tom Brady was synonymous with the New England Patriots. Brady was a major force in leading his team to the playoffs 19 times and to six Superbowl titles during those 20 seasons. After his amazing run, Brady turned in his Patriots jersey number 12 at the end of the 2019 season. Most professional ball players his age, 42 at the time, are long retired. Brady, instead, signed a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were coming off of three losing seasons in a row in 2019. Many Brady and Patriots fans wonder – WHY?
Many of Brady’s detractors may ascribe this decision to venal or mercenary attributes. The Bucs offered Brady a guaranteed 50 million dollars plus millions in incentives for two years of work: and he took it. But with 200 million already in pocket and an almost certain payday from advertisers to have him sell their wares, why should he risk alienating his solid base of fans?
Some say that Brady’s move was too long coming. He had supported his team in every way and gave them his all. While the adulation of the fans was mostly constant, there were clues that behind-the-scenes Brady felt unappreciated, especially by head coach Bill Belichick. Brady defended and supported the franchise for many years and yet did not receive the same support from Belichick and team owner, Robert Kraft, especially during “Deflategate”, when the Patriots, and Brady in particular, were charged with reducing ball pressure to gain an advantage. This may have been the beginning of the end for the relationship between Brady, Belichick, and the Patriot management. In 2017, it became obvious that Brady was diverging from the “Patriot Way” and moving in his own direction both businesswise and philosophically. When asked if he felt appreciated by management, he said, “I take the fifth,” referring to a legal maneuver to prevent self-incrimination. These examples, however, only explain why Brady wanted to leave the Patriots.
Why go to the Buccaneers? The Bucs not only gave Brady a salary that showed they respected his talent and leadership, they also gave him a solid team and coaching staff to work with. They had cleaned house in 2019, bringing in Bruce Arians as head coach, Byron Leftwich as offensive coordinator, and Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator. Tampa Bay also brought free agent and wide receiver, Antonio Brown, to the team. Brady’s old teammate, tight end Rob Gronkowski, came out of retirement to join the Bucs. These changes reflected the strong rebuilding efforts being made. The Bucs gave Brady the respect that he needed, the opportunity to play the game he loves, and a platform to show he was still viable as one of the NFLs greatest quarterbacks.