New England Patriots

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Tom Brady has completed his first major one-on-one interview since signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, officially closing the book on his dynastic 20-year run with the Patriots. As it turns out, the fact that Brady negotiated his way into free agency in the first place should’ve been the only indication we needed that Brady saw the end coming.

Though it seems Brady kept the door ajar all the way until his final moments before deciding to leave New England for Tampa Bay, Brady admitted in his lengthy interview with Howard Stern on Wednesday that the idea of leaving the Patriots entered his mind before the 2019 season even began.

“I don’t think there was a final, final decision until it happened, but I would say I probably knew before the start of last season that it was my last year,” said Brady. “I knew that it was just … our time was coming to an end.”

The signs were all over the place, but it remained difficult for many to accept that Brady would actually play for another NFL team. Brady’s last-minute change of heart never happened. So he visited Patriots owner Robert Kraft to break the news to him in person. Here’s how Brady described the final meeting between the two as colleagues, which was already widely reported:

“I called Mr. Kraft and I went over to his house and I just said – and it was a funny time because were all dealing with this … situation that we’re in – and I just wanted to say how much I love you and how much I appreciate what we’ve done together, and I know that we’re not going to continue together but thank you, thank you for providing what you have for my family and my career.”

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with owner Robert Kraft after winning the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MA – JANUARY 21: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with owner Robert Kraft after winning the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Why just a call to Belichick? Some might wonder why Belichick wasn’t invited to the farewell meeting. But maybe he couldn’t leave his house, who knows. Brady had a very reasonable explanation why he wanted to tell Belichick right in that moment. He didn’t want us to get our hands on it and twist the news in a billion obscene ways we hadn’t even imagined before. This way, Belichick could hear it straight from the clydesdale’s mouth.

“I wanted to tell him right away, you know, in the moment,” Brady said. “Too many times in this world, I would say something and someone else would say it and, before you know it, he would hear it from someone else. I wanted him to hear it from me.”

There’s absolutely no chance Brady’s explanation puts an end to the bloviating about him and Belichick hating each other and their relationship being the catalyst for Brady’s departure. Just don’t compare it to his relationship with Kraft because that is obvious. Brady has a better relationship with Robert Kraft than he does with any other person he’s ever known in his football career.

Dec 23, 2018; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick head out onto the field to shake hands with the Buffalo Bills after their 24-12 win at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Dec 23, 2018; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick head out onto the field to shake hands with the Buffalo Bills after their 24-12 win at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Nonetheless, Brady provided some enlightening clarity on his final season with the Patriots. It helps explain why he didn’t seem happy for much of the season, despite the Pats going 12-4. And it’s fair to wonder if the Patriots got the most they could out of the whole operation with this knowledge hovering over it.

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 matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.