Much of the early NFL offseason was marked by questions about Tom Brady. In an article for The Players’ Tribune, titled “The Only Way is Through,” Brady opens by asking a question of his own:
“What does it mean to change, and to challenge yourself, again and again?” writes the quarterback in a piece published Monday, where he opened up about his time in New England, and explained why he is headed to Tampa Bay.
From being drafted as a sixth-round pick in 2000, to tearing his ACL and MCL in 2008, while gathering six Super Bowl rings, Brady, a self-proclaimed “California kid” learned to think of himself as a New Englander. He says at his next stop, he will continue to.
I also got to experience New England as a husband and father. Jack had been born in California, but he spent a lot of time here, and Benny and Vivi were both born in Boston. Watching Benny and Vivi grow up as native New Englanders has been an amazing experience for me. They will always think of themselves as New Englanders. In a very special way, I will, too.
Part of that, for Brady, has to do with the people he encountered during his 20-year stay in New England, from Patriots personnel to football fans.
If there’s one thing anyone can say for sure, it’s that New Englanders understand what fandom is all about. New Englanders just really, really love their sports. That’s maybe because compared to New York, or Chicago, or Los Angeles, Boston feels less like a big city than it does a large small town. Even if you don’t know everybody in Boston, you feel like you know everybody. The fans feel like they’re part of our team, and my teammates and I felt the same way about them.
The support and love of New England fans has always been unconditional. So many great moments stand out for me — the packed training camps, the victory parades, the tens of thousands of supporters who came to see us off at the airport each time we boarded the plane for the Super Bowl. Win or lose, the same number of people would be there to greet our plane when we came home. Gillette Stadium holds around 70,000 people, and I’ve never not played in a sold-out stadium during my career as a Patriot. How fortunate am I?
Brady also acknowledged that, at 42, his football career is nearing its end. His decision to leave New England was motivated, in part, by knowing that.
Right now, though, I have things to prove to myself. The only way is through. If I don’t go for it, I’ll never know what I could have accomplished. Wanting to do something is different from actually doing it. If I stood at the bottom of a mountain, and told myself I could scale the highest peak, but then didn’t do anything about it, what’s the point of that?
And after acknowledging that his conditioning hasn’t changed, Brady assures that his mentality won’t change when he heads south as a member of the Buccaneers.
It will be different — that goes with the territory. Different coaches. Different players. Different programs. Right now I have no idea how to get to Raymond James Stadium, or where the meeting rooms are, or where everybody sits. It will be a learning curve, in the same way it was remembering that the Atlantic Ocean is always due east.
Still, I’m excited. Most of all, I’m motivated. I want to deliver for my new team, my new coaches and my new teammates. I don’t want to let anyone down. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.
Read Brady’s full article here.