By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Tom Brady wanted change. And he wanted to challenge himself unlike he ever has in his career.
Those are the two major themes of a new story by Brady (with an Under Armor logo slapped on it) in The Players Tribune, in which he details his 20 years in New England with the Patriots and the change he’s embraced in his move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The whole thing is worth a read for both Patriots and Bucs fans, but these two passages pretty much sum up the piece:
Life is always changing, and in whatever decision you make, or direction you choose, there’s an opportunity. Choosing to leave New England, and the only team I’ve known for 20 years, to join a new football team is a great opportunity, a great change and a great challenge.
Changes and challenges are part of life. They’re part of athletes’ lives. They’re supposed to happen. They need to happen sometimes.
Brady has a lengthy section in the middle of the story about the Patriots and what it was like to move across the country for the first time in his life, unsure of what his football future really held, only to experience the most dominant 20-year run in NFL history. He also says he’ll miss the organization and his coaches and teammates, but only shouts out owner Robert Kraft in this part.
But more than any one physical place, it’s the relationships I made in New England that I’ll miss the most. Of course, it starts with the entire New England Patriots organization, and Robert Kraft and the entire Kraft family. It extends to countless other individuals who played such a valuable role in my 20 years as a Patriot. Teammates and coaches, past and present. Old friends, new friends, the neighbors we went trick-or-treating with every year. But mostly, I’ll miss the fans.
Brady does mention Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, when he recalls the time that one of his assistants made the actual call to him to tell him the Patriots had drafted him. Brady was reportedly “Belichick’d out” after 20 years in New England, which prompted his desire for a new challenge in Tampa Bay.
The funniest part of the story is probably where Brady admitted that, when the Patriots drafted him, he wasn’t even sure if he could locate New England on a map.
Mixed in with my excitement was confusion. Aside from four years in college at Michigan, I’d spent my whole life in San Mateo. I honestly didn’t have a clear idea where New England actually was. Was New England an actual place? Once the draft was over, I flew east, landing not in Boston but in Providence, and then driving to the old Foxboro Stadium. It was mid-April. Those first few weeks, I remember trying to orient myself to a place I had no idea would be my home for the next two decades.
Thankfully, he found his way to Foxborough.
This story will most certainly be a bittersweet one for Patriots fans to absorb. But now that he’s in Tampa, they can be sure that they’ll see a reinvigorated and motivated Brady in his new uniform.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.