We have heard Tom Brady talk hundreds if not thousands of times during his 20-year NFL career, in press conferences, and interviews with WEEI and Jim Gray.
But we’ve never quite heard him as we did Wednesday. Brady let down his guard during an appearance on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM radio show that stretched for more than two hours.
The interview touched on just about everything — Brady’s relationship with Donald Trump, how he met his wife, life in Tampa, an R-rated injury he once suffered, and much more.
Brady also provided context and solid answers to questions that have been swirling around him and the Patriots. Here are the most interesting answers he gave in regards to football and the Patriots:
▪ Brady was asked when he knew it was over with the Patriots. He announced March 17 that he would be leaving the organization and agreed to terms with the Buccaneers the next day.
Brady said “there wasn’t a ton of substantial conversations” between his camp and the Patriots during last season and this offseason.
“I don’t think there was a final, final decision until it happened,” Brady said. “But I would say I probably knew before the start of last season that it was my last year. I knew that our time was coming to an end.”
This certainly explains Brady’s demeanor throughout last season. He was so mopey after a 16-10 win at Buffalo that you wanted to give him a hug. At the midpoint of the season, he told NBC’s Al Michaels he was “the most miserable 8-0 quarterback in the NFL.”
Brady knew the offense was a mess and didn’t have the firepower to make a Super Bowl run, especially once controversial wide receiver Antonio Brown was released. And he didn’t want to go out like that.
▪ Brady’s statistics were down across the board in 2019, and a lot of us in New England blame his supporting cast for the dropoff. But Brady intimated that the Patriots don’t think he can play at a high level anymore.
“There’s no bigger fan of the New England Patriots organization than me, but that doesn’t mean that I could continue to play there at the highest level,” Brady said. “And I feel like I want to prove to myself that I could still perform at the highest level.”
▪ One of the biggest examples of an apparent rift between the Patriots and Brady was his decision to skip voluntary offseason workouts in 2018 and 2019, making him the only quarterback in the NFL to do so.
Brady said Wednesday that he did it because of marriage issues. He said his wife, Gisele Bundchen, told him she wasn’t happy that he focused on football all year while she took care of the house and the family.
They sought marriage counseling, he said, and Bundchen wrote him a letter stating her displeasure that he still keeps in a drawer today.
“I had to check myself,” Brady said. “I had to make a big transition in my life to say I can’t do all the things that I wanted to do for football like I used to. I’ve got to take care of things in my family, because my family, the situation wasn’t great. She wasn’t satisfied with our marriage. I needed to make a change in that.”
But Brady never addressed reports that he skipped the offseason workouts in part because he was fed up with Bill Belichick and the Patriots and their refusal to give him a long-term contract extension. My belief is it at least contributed to him staying away both springs.
▪ Brady weighed in (sort of) on the old talk-radio debate: Who deserves more credit for the Patriots’ success, Brady or Belichick?
Brady gave Belichick his props but wouldn’t let him off the hook, either.
“Would I be successful without him, the same level of success? I don’t believe I would have been,” Brady said. “But I feel the same in vice versa, as well. To have him allowed me to be the best I could be, so I’m grateful for that. And I very much believe that he feels the same about me, because we’ve expressed that to each other.”
▪ Brady said his relationship with Belichick is much better than people think. Brady also said he doesn’t harbor any grudges toward Belichick for drafting Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014 and preparing to move on from Brady.
“I think he has a lot of loyalty,” Brady said. “I got into unchartered territory as an athlete because I started to break the mold of what so many other athletes had experienced. So I got to a point where I was an older athlete and he started planning for the future, which is what his responsibility is. And I don’t fault him for that. That’s what he should be doing.”
▪ Brady also acknowledged that he would freeze out certain receivers if he didn’t believe in them. Brady said that he and Belichick often agreed on this point.
“I’ve definitely expressed my opinion to say, ‘If you put him out there, I’m not going to throw him the ball,’ ” Brady said. “Because if I don’t believe in him, then it’s worthless for the team.
"I think, fortunately for me, Coach Belichick always saw it the same way as me, which is why I think we had such a great connection. Because he saw football very much the same way that I saw it.”
Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.