He may be wearing a different uniform, playing in a different city, and facing a different set of conference opponents, but Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady doesn’t expect to change his approach.
“I’m going to try to do everything I can in my position, and what I’m responsible for is to make it happen,” he said Tuesday. “I’ve got to trust everyone is doing the exact same thing — no different than what I’ve experienced.”
And team officials hope the experience he brings to Florida — the six Super Bowl rings, the three MVP awards — will be enough to bring Tampa Bay another title.
On Tuesday, Brady and the Buccaneers held their first press conference since Brady announced Friday he was signing with them. It was a culmination of what the team had worked toward since its season ended in December.
“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,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said.
Licht expects Brady to have a “transformative effect” on other players in the locker room, and emphasized that Tampa Bay wanted him “not because of what he accomplished in the past but for what he will do in the future.”
Brady will need to get acclimated to the style of his new coach, Bruce Arians, who has six years of head-coaching experience and is entering his second season at the helm in Tampa.
Arians, for his part, said he wishes “we could start practice tomorrow.”
“I’ve been very, very blessed as a coach to be around the great ones," said Arians, "and now to be around the greatest of all time …
"He makes everyone better that walks into that huddle. Really, just excited to get started.”
Of course, it’s not that simple. For the first time in his 20-year career, Brady will play for a team other than the Patriots. And he’s doing it at a moment when the NFL world — the entire world, for that matter — grapples with a new reality amid the coronavirus outbreak.
On top of learning new schemes, new terminology, and a new city, Brady isn’t sure when he’ll have an opportunity to meet his new teammates.
“I’m not making any predictions, I’m going to take it day by day,” he said. “One day at a time is a cliché, but it’s definitely not a cliché in how I’m trying to live my life right now; this is a new reality for all of us.”
The goal in Tampa Bay, he said, is simple.
“There are a lot of things that were intriguing to me about the organization and the players and the coaches and the willingness to try to accomplish what the goal of playing football is, which is to win,” he said.
But wasn’t that an option in New England, too? Brady danced around the idea that he was ready to move on from the Patriots, as owner Robert Kraft said last week.
“I’m not responsible for how other people will say certain things,” he said. “I think Mr. Kraft has been a great influence in my life, and I’m so grateful for the two decades and, you know, I referenced that the other day” in social media posts.
“It’s been an amazing thing for my family, and when I’m done playing, I’ll look back and have a chance to look back at my entire career. At the same time, I’m excited for this opportunity that I have and can only speak to how I feel.”
Brady must get comfortable with new receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin (Brady wouldn’t say whether Godwin is handing over No. 12 to him). Instead of working with Josh McDaniels, he’ll be game-planning with Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, whose playing career overlapped with Brady’s, although it was considerably shorter.
“It’ll certainly be different, but at the same time, that’s the way life can be sometimes,” said Brady. “What won’t be different is my approach to the game.”
Licht and Arians commended Brady’s ability to rally a locker room, to lead by example in practice and with his play on the field. And now, with the football world rocked by his decision to move on, Brady will see if he can work that magic in Tampa.
"I’m just excited to embrace this opportunity to see this for what it is,” he said. “It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of commitment, a lot of people [need to] get aligned.
"I don’t know when our first OTA will be, but I’m sure there will be a lot of guys I’m excited to meet and I’m going to try to get the best out of myself and the best out of them.”