There were certainly plenty of tales and takeaways from Tom Brady’s two-plus-hour interview with Howard Stern on Sirius XM radio Wednesday morning.
Swollen testicles and Rob Gronkowski’s impressive…err manhood, were salacious talking points given the nature of satellite radio.
One blatantly obvious fact was that the interviewer and interviewee are huge fans of each other and the other’s accomplishments, even though Stern didn’t recall a meeting in The Hamptons in the mid-2000s in which he apparently “big-timed” Brady.
At times the interview -- that has supposedly been years in the making and was scheduled to happen at various points yet always somehow feel through -- almost devolved into a battle between Brady and Stern to out-praise each other.
You’re the greatest.
No, you’re the greatest.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“I’ll do anything for you, Howard.”
Along the way the new Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback touched upon just about everything from his development as a young athlete to intimate details of his relationship with supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen to the predictable borderline infomercial for Brady’s “TB12 Method” business and, of course, his 20-year run working for Bill Belichick building the Patriots dynasty.
In the end, Brady painted a picture of a man seemingly quite at peace with his decision to move on from New England, in some ways a man who used everything he’d learned over the years under Belichick to make the biggest decision of his professional life. It’s not personal, it’s just business, so to speak.
Just like Belichick’s data-driven, emotion-free game plans and approach to team-building, Brady’s move to Tampa was calculated.
“There was a lot (of factors). I kind of wrote down about 20 different things that were important to me. Then I prioritized what was important. Then I kind of scaled it. Then I looked at all the different opportunities that were out there,” Brady said, after realizing as early as last summer that 2019 would probably be his last season in New England.
The separation from the Patriots was, in many ways, a long time coming. Brady acknowledged that Belichick clearly had been planning for life after TB12 for years.
“I got into uncharted territory as an athlete because I started to break the mold of what so many other athletes had experienced. I got to the point where I was old, I was an older athlete, and he’s starting to plan for the future,” Brady told Stern. “Which is what his responsibly is. I don’t fault him for that. That’s what he should be doing. That’s what every coach should be doing. Not that I would ever coach, but if I’m ever in a position of authority I would understand that too. I recognized that. We talked about it.”
Seemingly forthcoming will all his answers, at least in regards to what he’s ready to share for the here and now while still he’s still playing, Brady didn’t admit to holding any kind of grudge towards Belichick for what Stern termed a lack of loyalty.
“I think he has a loyalty. He and I have had a lot of conversations that nobody has ever been privy to, nor should they be. So many wrong assumptions were made about our relationship or about how he felt about me. I know genuinely how he feels about me,” Brady said. “Now, I’m not going to respond to every rumor or assumption that’s made other than, what his responsibility as coach is to try to get the best player for the team, not only in the short term but in the long term as well.”
Brady also shot down the idea that the next few years are about proving who was more critical to the Patriots’ success or who can prove himself more successful apart from the other.
“I think it’s a pretty shitty argument, actually, that people would say that,” Brady said. “Because, again, I can’t do his job and he can’t do mine. The fact that you could say, ‘Would I be successful without him?’, the same level of success, I don’t believe I would have been. But I feel the same in vice versa as well. To have him allowed me to be the best I could be. I’m grateful for that. I very much feel he feels the same way about me because we’ve expressed that to each other.”
Using phrases that might just as well have come from Belichick over the years, sounding very matter-of-fact and without emotion, the far more emotional Brady – he admitted he cried when he told Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft on March 16 of his decision to leave New England -- put his stunning free agency departure in the simplest of terms.
“It was just time,” Brady said. “I don’t know what to say other than that. I had done everything, I’d accomplished everything I could in two decades with an incredible organization, an incredible group of people. That will never change. No one can ever take that away from me. No one can ever take that experience or Super Bowl championships away from us.”
While circumstances and time have pushed Belichick and Brady in different directions, the quarterback maintains respect for the man whose culture he played such a key role in building over two decades in Foxborough.
“Things change. Things change in ways for the better,” Brady concluded at one point while discussing his off-the-field life with Stern.
That, in this case, may be up to interpretation. Better for whom?
But, as was the case for the entirety of his time in New England, Brady’s goals for 2020 have not changed.
“I want my team to win the Super Bowl,” Brady declared, sounding very much the same as his former teammates Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater and others have in interviews back in New England since their Hall of Fame quarterback departed.
But Brady’s team is now the Bucs. A new home after a calculated, year-long exit from New England and separation from Belichick, a man who played such a key role in so many ways in Brady’s development.
And maybe even in his divorce from the Patriots.
“If you bet on me, I’ll give you everything I have,” Brady said, a mentality that dates back to his selection in New England has a late-round draft pick.
This time, the Bucs have bet on him. Belichick’s Patriots didn’t.
Now, we’ll see what Brady has left after he left Belichick in a very cold, calculated maneuver that might even kind of make his former coach proud.