We heard it straight from the G.O.A.T. himself today, so we know it's real. Tom Brady is calling it a career after 22 legendary seasons. I'm sure Dave, Jerry, Coley, Hank, Feits, etc. will all have an aptly worded blog about what Tom Brady's career meant to them, but mine is a totally different side of the coin.
I had always admired Brady from afar, but I have one team, and that's it. As of early 2020, I had been rooting for the Buccaneers for 23 years. Since the upstart '97 Bucs stole my heart with a 5-0 start and a sweet pair of Runningbacks (Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott) that made the very fun to play video games with. I started to fall in love with the game of football and cherished the Warren Sapp vs. Brett Favre rivalry and the hard nosed Bucs defense littered with future Hall of Famers. I had literally peaked in high school as far as fandom as the Bucs won Super Bowl XXXVII on January 26, 2003. As I became more and more entranced with the NFL, I had endured a lot of heartache. I'd seen the team turn to the likes of Brian Griese, Chris Simms (who was my favorite Bucs QB ever until Tom came), Luke McCown, and Josh McCown amongst others. The team had been so bad, we were usually had a high pick which got me so into the NFL Draft.
It was in 2015 after a disastrous 2-14 2014 season where we earned the #1 pick and took what I thought would be the savior of the franchise, Jameis Winston. Boy was I wrong! After an up and down few seasons, Jameis turned in an embarrassing 2019 that made the Bucs look into alternative options in the off-season as Winston's rookie deal was also up. The options were re-sign Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, or a fella by the name of Tom Brady. Talk about an easy decision! The Bucs called Brady the minute the free agency window opened and Brady's agent, Don Yee said, "You made a very good decision to call." The rest was just signing papers, but instantly, the Bucs went from being a middling team without any national presence to being the team people wanted to see.
As a Bucs fan, it was quite the shock to the system. We went from having one divisional Thursday Night game per year to being talked about by Mike Greenberg daily! On the field, as a guy who breaks down the All-22, it was such a treat to go from seeing continuous poor decision making from the position to seeing the greatest decision maker of all-time operate. Tom was an absolute surgeon.
Coming to Tampa things started off a little rocky. COVID came to America and there were certain rules and restrictions put in place. The G.O.A.T. got asked to leave a public park while working out, he ended up entering the wrong person's home when he thought he was going to Byron Leftwich's house to get the playbook, the NFL had new restrictions for players being at the team facilities. Through it wall, Tom Brady had to get to know a completely new playbook and set of teammates.
It started with some workouts with teammates at Berkeley Prep, a private high school with a football field where TB12 and some players would get together to train during the off-season. Those workouts were covered by a bunch of news reporters in helicopters that had never seen a star as bright as #12's.
The season started rocky with a loss to the Saints in which Brady threw two interceptions, including a pick six. But things started to get better week by week and the team really picked up steam a their Week 13 bye. They got healthy and dominated down the stretch, winning their final eight games en route to a win at home in Tampa in Super Bowl LV.
Things obviously didn't turn out as us Bucs fans had hoped this year, but we still set a single-season franchise record for wins and he provided some incredible entertainment along the way. Being the only Bucs fan as far as the eye could see, I've been lucky enough to latch on to TB12's shooting star for two full years and had a bunch of my favorite moments caught on tape. So while his playing days are over, my memories will live forever. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Brady to Scotty Miller right before the half in the NFC Championship game.
Brady to Breshad Perriman in a walk-off game-winner in OT:
Brady to Cyril Grayson Jr. to win the game vs. the Jets
Going from having to watch gun shy noodle arms like Jeff Garcia, or a baby giraffe like Mike Glennon, to the turnover machine known as Jameis Winston, to watching Tom Brady elevate my franchise to the absolute highest of highs was one of the greatest joys of my life. And if this truly is the end (you can totally come back after training camp Tom!), I just want to say Thank You TB12.
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