In case you’ve been living in a mineshaft the past year and a half, this Sunday Tom Brady makes his return to Gillette Stadium for the first time as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And the Patriots have their own takes on the matter.
To kick off Brady Week™, some of the team’s most experienced figures and most vibrant personalities shared their thoughts on Brady coming to town with the defending Super Bowl champion Bucs, who present arguably the biggest on-field challenge they will face all season. Expectedly, the players and coaches have largely expressed their admiration and respect for the seven-time Super Bowl winner, who got some of six rings in New England with these guys as his teammates or coaches.
Running backs coach Ivan Fears, however, was refreshingly frank: we’re not exactly rolling the red carpet out, here. Give Brady his hero’s welcome before the game, but once the ball is kicked off, it’s time to try to beat him.
“I love Tom Brady. I always have,” Fears said Tuesday. “I spent 20 years with the young guy. I’m very honored to have been a part of the team with him. I still think he’s the greatest. But right now, that SOB is the enemy.
“Right now I’m happy for him, for the success he’s had. And I’m looking forward to trying to beat his butt. That’s what counts. That’s all that matters right now. We’re going after each other. Too bad I can’t be out there (laughs).”
Brady himself, speaking to Jim Gray on the “Let’s Go!” podcast, said what you might expect: though it may be hard to ignore the emotions and memories that crop up once he sets foot in Gillette Stadium again, he’s there to try to win a football game, and the history and the past with the Patriots can come to the forefront of his mind some time later.
“I’m not going to necessarily reminisce,” Brady said. “I don’t think this is the moment for that. I’ll have plenty of opportunities to reminisce about my football career, none of it, none of which I really care to do right now, because I’m so much in the moment. I’m not going to be thinking about 20 years of history. I’m going to be thinking about one night of football, a Sunday night game coming off a really tough loss.”
Easier said than done for Brady, who also expects the Patriots faithful to root for the guys in nautical blue to knock him on his ass, after rooting against the pass-rush for so many years.
“I mean, I think they’re there to root for their team, and their team is the Patriots,” Brady said. “I think they’re gonna cheer for their team as I would expect them to, and I think if they know anything about me, they’re gonna know that I’m going out there to try to win the football game, so I think they’ll respect that about me.”
Here are some of the other comments made by Patriots players and coaches so far this week, in the lead-up to the most anticipated game in Patriots history.