For the first time in 20 years, Tom Brady is entering the NFL season playing for a team other than the New England Patriots.
After signing a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, Brady made his first organized public comments -- apart from his postings on social media -- to Tampa Bay, Boston and national media during a Tuesday afternoon conference call.
He discussed the “exciting” opportunity that awaits him as he the six-time Super Bowl winner looks to lead the Bucs to their first playoff appearance since 2007.
Maybe not as excited as Bucs General Manager Jason Licht and Coach Bruce Arians.
Licht opened the conference call by labeling Brady as “quite frankly the best quarterback to play the game of football” who will have a “transformative effect in the locker room.”
Added Coach Bruce Arians: “I’ve been very, very blessed as a coach to have been around some of the best ones, and now to have one of the greatest ones of all time.”
“It’s an exciting moment for me in my life (and) obviously something that’s very unique to me. It’s the first time it’s happened in 20 years,” Brady said via phone. “I’m kind of taking it day by day.”
Following is a transcript of Monday’s conference call:
BUCS GENERAL MANAGER JASON LICHT
I'd like to thank you guys for joining us today as well. Obviously, this is a little bit of a different format due to what's going on around the world. But as we continue to work through free agency, prepare for the draft, we're still very mindful of the people who are being affected by things the current landscape around the world. And we hope that life will return to normal for all of us. To say that this is an exciting day for the Buccaneers organization and me personally it would be a rather large understatement. Tom is quite simply the greatest quarterback to play the game of football. Anytime you can add someone his caliber, you instantly make your organization better. He’s got a long list of truly remarkable accomplishments in his career, frankly too many to mention here. Going after Tom in free agency was our No. 1 priority this offseason because we knew he'd be a perfect fit for what we're trying to do here. He's a Buccaneer today, not for what he's done in the past, but what we know he can accomplish here in the near future as well. We know that Tom is going to have a transformative effect in our locker room and he's going to demand the best out of himself, his teammates and anybody that's around him. And also, at this point, like to thank the Glazer family for providing us with the resources and the leadership to make such a bold move in free agency. We wouldn't be here today if not for their passion and desire to win another Super Bowl, hopefully more for our fans. This was an all-out effort from every level of the organization, from scouts, to coaches to our front office, and especially ownership. And today we begin a new era for the Buccaneers that will define our franchise for many years to come.
BUCS COACH BRUCE ARIANS
To echo what Jason said, I hope everybody's healthy, I hope your families are healthy, and you're dealing with this crisis that we're going through. And hopefully, football can be a little bit of a bright light for the upcoming days and months ahead. Like Jason said, I'm extremely excited. I wish we could start practice tomorrow, but we can’t obviously, and to have Tom lead our football team into the future. I've been very, very blessed as a coach. I've been around some of the great ones and now to have the greatest one of all time -- not because of, to me what he does on the field, but what he does to his teammates, everywhere. He makes everyone better that walks into that huddle, and really just excited to get started.
BRADY’S OPENING COMMENTS
Hi guys, thank you very much. I appreciate you taking the time today. You know, it's an exciting moment for me in my life. You know, the thing that's obviously very unique to me is it's the first time it's happened in 20 years. So I'm kind of taking it day by day. And you know, the expectation for me is to come in and do what I feel is right for the organization as to be a great team player. And I'm going to try to do everything I can to get up to speed with all the things that I need to do and what my responsibilities are. I obviously have a ton of trust and respect and for Coach Arians, you know, for what Jason has done to build the team and organization as it is now. And, you know, I'm thankful to the Glazer family to give me an opportunity. And as I said, the other day, I look forward to meeting all my teammates and just doing everything I can, for us to achieve what we set out. And there's a lot of things that go into it. And, you know, as soon as we can get those things going, the greater it will be for everybody. Understanding the circumstance of what we're dealing with.We're in a little different approach and we have to adjust as is that's what happens in football and in life. And, and that's what my plan is.
Q: You've had nothing but success in New England. And beyond your own addition to the locker room, what can you do to change things here in Tampa where they haven't been to the playoffs for as long as they have?
Brady: I think it's obvious where I've been, I've learned a great deal. And, you know, as I move forward, I said the other day, no one cares what you've done in the past. They don't care what you did last year, or five years ago, or 10 years ago. And, you know, I think hopefully, I acknowledge I've had in my experience playing quarterback, you know, will allow me to transition quickly. There's a lot of things I’ve got to get up to speed on, obviously, learning different terminology. And, you know, that's, that's a unique challenge that I haven't faced, but it's one that I'm looking forward to also. So I'm not going to make a bunch of predictions to where I've been, you know. I go in looking forward to the opportunity to learn from the new coaches, and new players that I'll be playing with. And I'm going to go and give everything I got.
Q: It's no secret the Bucs haven't won many games in the last decade-plus. What gave you the confidence to know that Tampa Bay was the right place for you?
Brady: Well, I don't want to get into every process decision I was making at the time. But there are a lot of things that really were intriguing to me about the organization and, you know, the players and the coaches and the willingness of everyone to try to accomplish what the goal of playing football is, which is the win. So 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. That part is it's no different like what I've experienced for 20 years in my own role.
Q: Some of the quarterbacks who have had success late in their careers -- I'm thinking about guys like john Elway and Peyton Manning -- grew increasingly reliant on their running games and defenses. Well, Bruce has never really had a game manager type of quarterback. You know, even back in Cleveland when Kelly Holcomb comes in the playoff game of Pittsburgh and throws for 400 yards. How attractive to you is Bruce’s “no-risk-it, no-biscuit” mentality and was that a factor and appealing to you that he puts the game on the shoulders of his quarterbacks?
Brady: Well, I've obviously paid attention to he and his offense for a long time. So everybody has somewhat different styles and philosophies and how they call things and so forth. Football to me is about throwing the ball to the guy who's open and if he's open deep, that's where you throw it. And if he's open short, you throw it there. If he’s open outside, you throw it there, if they're open inside, that's where you throw it. 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 skill sets. And it's really my responsibility. I have one ball and I’ve got to be able to deliver that ball to the guy who can do something with it. So there's a lot of ground to make up, because I haven't worked with these players, and I'm gonna have to learn what they do and their body language and how they like things. And that's part of the challenge. And it's unfortunate what we're going through in our world, it presents different challenges for all of us. So, again, as soon as we have the opportunity to all be together in one place, and we can really start working toward that, that’s what I’m going to do.
Q: Assuming that you looked at some video of the Buccaneers before you made the decision, is there any moment or look or play that stood out to you that told you that this was the right place, that this was an offense that was going to work good for you and for the team?
Brady: There's not one single thing that got to the point where I'm at today. I’ve been playing quarterback for a long time, that's what I do. I watch film and I study, and I try to learn and I try to grow. I try to evolve every year. And I've watched this offense over a long period of time with a lot of different quarterbacks having a lot of success, and it's a great offense for the quarterback. It's a great offense for the receivers for the tight end, for the running backs. There's been a lot of great players who have been a part of working with Coach Arians. And again, for me, it's for me to come in and understand the things I’ve got to learn to be successful within what we're all trying to do and what we collectively do well. It's not about what one player does well, and great offenses aren't about one player. Great offenses are about all every guy being on the same page, and playing with confidence and anticipation. Until you can get to work on doing those things. And, you know, for me getting a lot of logistical things out of the way is important because there's a tactical aspect that I got to get to, that I really got to get up to speed on. So that's going to be a busy offseason for me, learning a lot of new things, which is a great challenge and a great opportunity for me. I'm going to just do it the only way I know how to do it, which is just to fully engulf myself in what’s done here. It's a new program that I'm a part of, and they have their way of doing things. And they're committed to winning and I got to come in and do my part and that's why I'm here.
Q: Obviously, like you said, it's, it's a difficult time in our nation. And you put that against the context of this being such a new thing for you as well. How would you? How would you describe how the pandemic is affecting your personal life, your family life and what you're having to deal with?
Brady: There's logistical things that are happening that, not just for me, for everyone dealing with it, everyone's going through lives in a different way right now. And there's still a lot of change happening, and you just got to try to manage it as best as possible. So, everyone seems to be in different locations. But I think the important part is everyone's trying to make it work. And everyone's trying to figure out how to adjust and adapt to new realities that we're all facing. You've seen a lot of these other leagues that have been delayed. We as football players, there's aspects of our offseason that have changed, and I'm sure it will change to a degree. But that doesn't stop me from figuring out what I've got to do in my professional life to try to still learn the things I need to learn and train the way I need to train. And because as far as I know, there's nothing that delayed the start of our season at this point. And I've got to do everything I can to be prepared as I would end up in an offseason where we weren't dealing with what we're dealing with. So, again, I'm not making any predictions about that. I'm just going to take it day to day with how I'm doing and I'm going to try to learn things I need to learn. One day at a time, that’s a cliché, but in my mind it's definitely not a cliche in the way that trying to live my life right now. So It's just been a new reality for all of us.
Q: I know Joe Montana was your guy when you were growing up. How did it strike you as a fan of his to see him leave the 49ers after so many years? And in what wayd do you relate to how Joe finished his career with another team after so many years with the 49ers?
Brady: I was at Joe's last game at Candlestick Park. I actually went up there and saw it with my friend. And I'll never forget that. So he was an incredible player. He and Steve Young were my quarterback idols growing up. And you know, I just think life continues to change for all of us, and just having the opportunity for me to continue to play football and lead a team is something that I love doing. I’ve loved playing sports since I was a kid, since I was throwing footballs in the parking lot at Candlestick. And I still love doing that today. And I train hard, I try to keep my body is physically fit as possible. Mentally I try to stay sharp, although it's going to be a different challenge this year and learning. But I'm going to do everything I can to do the best I possibly can and, and I'm just excited to embrace this opportunity and see for what it is -- a lot of guys that have been a part of this team. They want to be the best they can be and they want to achieve the highest goal, and I've been very fortunate to be a part of that. And there's no way to do it and you can't talk your way into it. It's a lot of hard work. It's a lot of commitment. And it's a lot of people that are just aligned trying to do the right thing. So, again, I don't know when our first OTA will be, but I'm sure there'll be a lot of guys that I'm excited to meet, and I'm going to try to get the best out of myself and get the best out of them. And it's all going to be dependent on the guys in the facility to make it happen.
Q: Robert Kraft did several interviews the other day when you left stating that this was really what you want, that leaving New England was what you wanted and that if you had wanted to come back to the Patriots, that they would have made a deal happen. But that you leaving what you wanted to do. Would you agree with that assessment?
Brady: Well, yeah, again, I'm not responsible for how other people will say certain things, I think Mr. Kraft has been a great influence in my life. And I'm so grateful for two decades. I referenced that the other day. 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 really reevaluate my entire career, but at the same time, I'm excited for this opportunity that I have. And I can only speak to how I feel. And I wrote about that in my social media the other day, getting to be a free agent. And having the opportunity to join the Bucs was something that I was really excited about, and that's why we’re at where we’re at.
Q: Are you disappointed that the Patriots maybe didn't make more of an effort to bring you back? Or maybe show some more appreciation given all you've accomplished for the team?
Brady: No, I have a great deal of respect … There's nobody who's been a bigger fan of the Patriots than me. So I have nothing but total respect and love. And, you know, 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 just a lot of the great people I've gotten to meet over the years and I have so many great relationships that will be maintained. And that's I think the greatest gift that football’s brought me is the relationships that I've had with so many people I've worked with, so it'll be certainly different. But at the same time, that's the way life can be a times and what won't be different is my approach to the game, my approach to what my roles and responsibilities are, and I'm going to go out and do the best I can every day to put our team in a position to win.
Q: (for Bruce Arians): How does it feel landing the man that was standing behind door No. 2? And why is Tom Brady the right fit for this team at this moment?
Arians: We do our due diligence every year after season, to see how we can better a football team and better our organization. We looked at everybody that would might be available at the quarterback position, obviously really never dreaming that Tom would be available. But if he was he was going to be our No. 1 choice mainly because he can do everything we want to do on our offense. But more than that is his leadership abilitt that we need in our locker room to get where we want to go. And so yeah, once that became a reality, it was full bore ahead to do what we’ve got to do and if we can get this done.
Q: You've mentioned a couple of times now about the unique challenges that this offseason may and certainly likely will present. I know you've opted against OCAs in the New England the last few years, this year's OTAs obviously seem to be very much in doubt. In the event that you can't get on the field with your teammates, at least on the Bucs’ facility field for any number of months, how do you plan to get to know your teammates on and off the field?
Brady: But I think again, I'm not going to make predictions about how the next few months are going to go. And I, I don't really know what's going to happen and what's predicted with our access to the team facilities and so forth. So I'm going to try to do the best I can to be in conversation with guys and try to get together and find ways to meet up in different places, and get to work in that sense. So technology is an amazing thing. And we're going to use the technology as best we can to try to get to know each other. And, you know, for me, they're ahead of me on what they need to know in terms of the offense. So I’ve really got to get up to speed with the things that they already know and their terminology and it's just a lot of time and energy. But that's what I love to do. So that's the only way to start is to start doing it. And that's what I’ve got to do.
Q: You're not only leaving an organization after 20 years, but you're moving to Tampa, Florida. What do you know about this area? Have you spent any time here and just what are your thoughts about a different climate and different region of the country?
Brady: There's a lot of change. And, you know, it's just that. You up from 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. I mean, it's not like I'm 25 where I just basically pack a suitcase and go. I have three kids and it's just changing a little bit of our life, but that's life. And that's what people do. And that's what you do when you have opportunities, other jobs and other places. And there's a lot of coaches that deal with that, there's a lot of players that have dealt with that, they deal with it every year. That said, I'm no different than what so many other people have gone through and you do the best you can do and you make the transition as smooth as possible. What's most important is to try to make it a smooth transition with my family just so I can get to work on the things I need to focus on. So hopefully I can get those things finished here in the next couple of weeks, and get up to speed with the things I need to learn. A lot of that is just studying a playbook and getting to getting to know my teammates by phone calls and so forth until we have ultimately the opportunity to be together and try to get to know each other in that type of way.
Q: When, in your mind, did you officially cut the cord with the Patriots and how hard was it to tell Robert and the Patriots you were moving on?
Brady: It was really the night that I had stopped by and spoke with Mr. Kraft and asked if I could come over and see him. We spoke and we had a great conversation. I just wanted to express what he's meant to me in my life, and we spoke with Coach Belichick the same time, we were in different locations. So we talked to him and it was great. I got a chance to talk to Jonathan Kraft (president of The Kraft Group) as well. And all three of those guys have been involved in so many important decisions in my life both career related and personal related. I leave there with just great admiration for the people and that organization. And it's a great, world class, first class organization in every way. And I wanted to leave it that way too. So I know that they just have a great team. They always do. They have great players, great leadership, great coaches, and I certainly wish them the best. But for me, I've got to transition and focus on the opportunity that I have to make the current situation I'm in as best I possibly can. And they hired me to do a job here and I'm going to go 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 got like I've done everything in my life for as long as I've been playing this sport.
Q: Have you talked to Chris Godwin about getting No. 12, and can you talk about the new challenge of the NFC South and facing Drew Brees?
Brady: It's a good division with good quarterbacks, very good offenses, and very athletic defenses. Winning the division is always a hard thing to do, these teams know each other so well. I didn't play this division once but every four years so, I got to learn the players. I got to learn the schemes. There's a lot of things that I've got to learn and get up to speed on. So that's where a lot of my time and energy is going to be focused on. And trying to do that and also learning my teammates and learning guys like Mike (Evans) and Chris (Godwin), O.J. (Howard), Cam (Brate) and a lot of the skilled players, Ron Jones and obviously the offensive line, which is a very talented group. So there's a lot of things for me to focus on. And a lot of time and energy is going to be spent on getting up to speed with the tactical things about how I can do the best job I can for the team. So, anything outside of that is really, in essence, not a high priority for me. It's not to say that things are unimportant. I've got to be able to prioritize my time and energy so that I can learn what I need to learn and go out there and do a great job for this organization.
Q: Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is not far removed from his own playing career. And he's one of these up-and-coming coaches in the league and he's also getting the grasp of play calling and in the install and things like that. How excited are you about working with a young coach of his stature, and what do you think you can offer him when you're able to finally get together?
Brady: Yeah, you know, I'm excited. We've had a chance to talk a couple times. And I just really enjoy getting to know him a little bit. Obviously, we’re right around the same age and I've watched him play for a long time, competed against him. And he's done an incredible job transitioning into his second career, which is a coach, and it's going to be a lot of fun. All I can say is I'm excited to do it. Byron gets along with just about everybody he comes in contact with because he's very personable, outgoing guy. Everyone says great things about him and in my brief experiences talking to them, you know, I would say all those things seem to be true. He's got great football knowledge. And it'll be it'll be fun to get to know each other. It'll be fun to talk about football, we both have made a huge commitment in our lives to do that. And it'll be fun to take on this challenge together.
Q: What would it have taken for you to stay in New England?
A: Again, I don't want to talk about the past, because that's not relevant to what’s important in my future. What's going on this offseason for me and like I said, I had nothing but two decades of incredible experience and learning from some of the best players, and the best coaches and the ownership of the team. For all of us, things in life can change, and you’ve got to be able to adapt and evolve. And with each of those changes become different opportunities to learn and grow. And that's where I'm at. And, you know, anytime you leave somewhere, it's very emotional. The transition was, I would say, 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, you know, I'm going to be friends with my teammates, my former teammates and coaches for the rest of my life. And that's not going to leave just because I'm wearing a different jersey, but at the same time for me, the new jersey I'm wearing, I'm prepared to give them every bit of commitment that I've had my entire career to be the best I could be to help this team be the best it could be. And I did say there's not one person that makes a team. It’s every single person doing their job every day that's committed and determined to be the best. And I'm a very disciplined quarterback, I try to follow through on the things that I'm committed to, and I try to work every day to be the best I could be. And that's what I'm going to try to push my teammates to do. And I'm just excited to get started.
Thank you guys. Appreciate you guys calling in and take care and hope to see you all soon. Hope to see you guys all in person soon sometime down the road.
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