Brace yourselves, New Englanders.
We know Tom Brady is leaving the Patriots after a two-decade run and, for many, that’s bitter enough. He’s also leaving our region for the Gulf Coast of Florida and imagining the images of Brady in his new home that are going to crop up is nearly as strange as seeing him photoshopped into a Buccaneers jersey.
Think: Brady, Gisele and brood enjoying a day at the beach. Brady cruising along on a fishing boat with Bruce Arians and Mike Evans. Brady golfing with new neighbor Derek Jeter. He looks … happy? But how, in some mid-size city northeasterners feel comfortably superior to? Come on, Tom, at least Boston’s a shorter trip to the Met Gala!
The painful truth: Tom Brady, like a lot of athletes, might really like Tampa.
“A lot of guys migrate down here, if they played here they definitely keep a place or just kind of stay here after their career is done,” said Anthony Becht, a former tight end for the Jets and Buccaneers who still lives in Tampa and does broadcast work for the Bucs. “You bump into a lot of guys. During the football season I’ll go to Starbucks before doing some of the pre-or-postgame for the Bucs and you see Jeter at the Starbucks just hanging out.”
And maybe now Jeter and Brady, cheersing … green tea? (Okay, fine, Brady’s not going to Starbucks.)
But his new life will be different when he calls Tampa home, and it seems like Brady is going to be a real resident in the community. Arians said on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Wednesday that his new quarterback is moving his family to “a great town” in Tampa Bay, and Brady talked about a significant relocation during his introductory press call on Tuesday.
“You go from the northeast to the south. The climate is different. There’s a lot of things that will be different,” Brady said. “My drive to work will be different. There’s a lot of things. It’s not like I’m 25 where I 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.”
Goodbye Brookline, hello Tampa. It’s safe to assume Brady and family will still spend plenty of time in the New York area, where it seems like they’ll eventually relocate more fully, and at their homes in Montana and Costa Rica. But, for now, he’s Florida Man.
It’s okay, Gisele. Marilyn Monroe used to hang out there when Joe DiMaggio was at Yankee spring training. Downtown St. Pete is supposedly booming. Say hi to your new neighbors, Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden. Maybe you could get really into golf?
At least, the Brady family will enjoy spending a lot of time outside and getting the relative privacy of a smaller city.
“It’s a golfer’s paradise, it’s a fisherman’s paradise,” said Dave Moore, a former tight end who played 13 years for the Bucs and is now a broadcaster. “A lot of the players live in a community called Avila and there’s 35 golf courses within 10 miles.
“There’s just a lot to do outside. It’s a vacation-type place and that’s really what it’s built on.”
Moore grew up in New Jersey and wasn’t thrilled about his new home when he went to Tampa. Now, when he visits his daughter in New York, he can’t wait to get back and out of the congested city.
Most athletes or others with money congregate in three places: gated communities north of the city where the terrain is peppered by lakes and golf courses, the beaches in between St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Fla., and South Tampa, an upscale area that juts out into the bay.
“I can see [Brady] living in Davis Island, where Jeter lives,” Becht said, referring to a small island a bridge away from South Tampa. “You can rent a nice house on Davis Island. Harbor Island again is another place where they have really nice high rises and beautiful homes where you can be a little bit more secluded on the island, and then I can also see him being in the Westshore Yacht Club.
“A lot of guys that kind of come in short term but money isn’t an issue, that’s kind of where they go, into there, and they rent a home and they have all the amenities you’re kind of looking for around the water and stuff.”
There are enough restaurants of the non-steakhouse variety around any of these locations, not that Brady seems to get out much these days. But it’s there if they need it.
Shopping-wise, the International Plaza mall is the spot, and it’s not far from the Bucs facilities. We’re pretty sure Gucci goes to Gisele, Gisele doesn’t go to Gucci, but maybe Brady will scout for new TB12 locations.
“That’s kind of the who’s who mall,” Becht said. “There’s other malls throughout but they’re kind of the mid-level stores people would normally shop in. But the Guccis, the Louis Vuittons, the Tumis, the Neiman Marcus, that’s International Plaza.”
Florida, dear reader, is known for being very hot many months of the year, so air conditioned shopping malls are a good place to hang out even in the cities.
Something Brady will leave behind is as fervent of a sports culture. The Bucs have the most fans in town, but the Lightning are the only team that hasn’t struggled to fill seats in recent years. There’s not much of a culture of athletes communing at each others’ games the way you see in Boston when Patriots players sit courtside at Celtics games or get boxes to watch the Bruins in the playoffs.
Tampa Bay fans are hoping Brady is the type of new neighbor who can change all that. They may be able to show Brady what all those other players who went to Tampa liked so much about it that they stayed. TB12, after all, launched a Golf Performance Program in February. We should have known all along.