Tom Brady must have gotten used to Bill Belichick's notes and scribbles throughout the Patriots playbook over the years, and who can blame him? He only ever had to worry about one set of plays (albeit a big one), one cluster of formations, one extremely intelligent head coach, and the rest was history.
Until it wasn't. The trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers certainly yields a lot of positive for the 42-year-old future Hall of Famer, including a group of extremely talented wide receivers, a reunion with Rob Gronkowski and some sunny Florida weather. But it also comes with a new playbook, and Brady revealed that he had been having some trouble with the new set of plays under head coach Bruce Arians.
"It's been different having the opportunity over this time to move and to, for example, study my playbook -- I mean I really haven't had to do that in 19 years, so you forget, 'Man, that's really tough,' like all of the different terminologies," Brady said to ESPN's Jenna Laine on Thursday. "... Mentally I think that's been the thing that's obviously had its challenges.
Brady has had to figure out much more than just new plays, as he told Laine, including the new guys' names, the layout of the Bucs facility, and more.
One guy who doesn't find this to be all that challenging? Journeyman quarterback and cult hero (in several cities), Josh McCown.
Maybe it was tough for McCown the first couple times he moved teams, such as when he transferred to Sam Houston State University after spending his first three collegiate years at Southern Methodist University, or when he joined the Detroit Lions as a free agent after four years with the Arizona Cardinals. But after his journey through the NFL, it's no wonder he started to pick up and adapt to things a little more quickly.
I'm going to try and concisely state McCown's career path from that point on, but it's almost impossible to sound eloquent and non-robotic when simply listing the vast amount of teams he's played with.
After all, he went to Oakland after that lone season in Detroit. Then he went to Miami on a two-year contract, but wound up spending the length of that deal in Carolina after a trade.
He not only changed teams, but changed leagues. The Hartford Colonials of the United Football League was perhaps his best stretch stat-wise, if only because of lesser competition. But back to the NFL he went, as his UFL stint was followed by a minimum contract with the 49ers. The Niners signed him to a minimum for a reason though -- they didn't want him all that badly -- and released him, only for the Bears to scoop him up.
A two-and-a-half-year job as Jay Cutler's backup in Chicago lasted from 2011 to 2013. Tampa Bay was next, but only for 2014, because he was cut after season's end and picked up by Cleveland, who cut him two years later.
Then it was New York for two years, and the beloved journeyman finally announced his retirement...
... for two months, before the Eagles suffered some injuries in their QB corps and he found his way on the roster, eventually making his playoff debut at the young and spry age of 40. And with coronavirus raging and putting players' health in limbo, who knows which team might need his services in 2020?
To recap: Arizona, Detroit, Oakland, Miami, Carolina, Hartford, San Francisco, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia.
It took him 18 years in the NFL to finally reach the postseason, and around 19 to finally find out where he could outmatch Brady. What other late surprises will McCown uncover?