Tom Brady’s Wednesday interview on “The Howard Stern Show” produced a myriad of unusually notable quotes.
In a conversation that stretched beyond two hours, Brady discussed — among many other topics — his recent decision to leave the Patriots, his childhood, his relationship with his father, what Bill Belichick thinks of him, how he met Gisele Bündchen, what Donald Trump has asked of him politically, and how he views race in the context of football.
Here’s a look at some of what Brady said:
Brady knew he was leaving the Patriots, but was emotional about it.
The most relevant news regarding Brady heading into the interview with Stern was obviously his decision in March to leave the Patriots in free agency. Yet Brady — who left New England to sign a two-year contract with the Buccaneers — explained that he essentially knew he was leaving the Patriots as far back as the start of the 2019 season.
“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,” Brady said of his time in New England. “I knew that it was just, our time was coming to an end.”
As has been reported, Brady went over to meet with Patriots owner Robert Kraft the night before he announced he was leaving New England. Brady told Stern he was emotional in talking to Kraft.
“Yeah, I was crying,” said Brady. “I mean I’m a very emotional person.”
How his football relationship worked with Bill Belichick.
Stern asked how Brady deals with teammates when they make mistakes. The six-time Super Bowl winner said that he would never simply yell at a teammate for a mistake.
But asked if he would ever tell Belichick to get rid of a wide receiver who wasn’t catching the ball, Brady eventually offered an unusually candid response.
“I would say, ‘You know, I don’t have any trust that this guy can help us win the game,'” Brady explained. “I mean I [could] definitely express my opinion to say, ‘If you put him out there, I’m not going to throw him the ball.'”
“Fortunately for me, Coach Belichick always saw it the same way as me,” Brady continued, “which is why I think we have such a great connection because he saw football very much the same way I saw it.”
“We saw the process of winning very much the same way,” Brady said of Belichick and the Patriots organization.
Brady doesn’t hold a grudge against Belichick.
Eventually, Stern mentioned the classic Belichick-Brady debate: Does Brady ever consider critics who say he has only won due to his partnership with Belichick?
“I think it’s a pretty s***** argument actually that people would say that,” Brady responded. “Again, I can’t do his job and he can’t do mine. So the fact that you could say, ‘Would I be successful without him, the same level of success?’ I don’t believe I would’ve been. But I feel the same, and vice versa as well.
“I think he has a lot of loyalty,” Brady said of Belichick. “And he and I have had a lot of conversations that nobody has ever been privy to, and nor should they be, that so many wrong assumptions were made about our relationship or about how he felt about me. I know genuinely how he feels about me. 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.
“I got into uncharted territory as an athlete because I started to break the mold of what so many other athletes had experienced,” Brady explained of continuing to play well into his 40s. “I got to a point where I was an older athlete and he started to plan for the future, which is what his responsibility is. And I don’t fault him for that. That’s what he should be doing. That’s what every coach should be doing.”
He discussed how Gisele was once unhappy with their marriage.
One of the more personal moments Brady shared with Stern was about his marriage to Bündchen, whom he’s been with since 2006.
“At different times, like any married couple, things need to be changed,” Brady said. “A couple years ago, she didn’t feel like I was doing my part for the family. She felt like I would play football all season and she would take care of the house and all of a sudden when the season would end, I would be like, ‘Great, let me get into all my other business activities. Let me get into my football training,’ and she’s sitting there going, ‘Well, when are you going to do things for the house? When are you going to take the kids to school?’ And that was a big part of our marriage.”
Brady admitted that he had to “check” himself.
“She wasn’t satisfied with our marriage,” Brady said. “So I needed to make a change in that.”
Bündchen expressed her feeling to Brady in a letter, which he says he still has.
“It’s a good reminder for me that things are going to change and evolve over time,” Brady noted. “What worked for us 10 years ago won’t work for us forever.”
He was asked about his friendship with Donald Trump.
Stern broached the subject of President Trump by acknowledging that he was friends with Trump prior to his presidency, but has very different political opinions. Both Brady and Stern were asked by Trump to speak at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Each declined.
“Well he wanted me to speak at that convention too, and I think that I wasn’t going to do anything political because I met him in 2001 and it was probably very similar to [the] relationship you had with him,” Brady said to Stern.
Trump asked Brady in 2002 to judge a Miss USA pageant, and kept his support and friendship going after.
“He would call me after games, ‘I watched your game, Tom, and let’s play golf together,'” Brady said of Trump. “So 2003-2004, that’s kind of the way it was. [We] would golf, and then he became someone that would just come up to our games and stand on the sidelines and cheer for the Patriots.
“He always had a way of connecting with people and still does,” Brady said of Trump.
Still, Brady affirmed his desire to remain on the political sidelines.
“The whole political aspect came,” Brady said, “and I think I got brought into a lot of those things because it was so polarizing around the election time that it was uncomfortable for me because you can’t undo things — and not that I would undo a friendship — but the political support is totally different than the support of a friend.”
Stern asked Brady if his teammates were even upset at him for his connection to Trump.
“No,” Brady responded. “Never, because they know me. They know who I am. I was with them every single day.”
Brady explained why he thinks “sports transcends race.”
Stern asked Brady if he “ever feels self-conscious,” or if he feels “maybe even some kind of guilt for being the leader of the team” as a white player.
“Never, never once I’d say again never have I felt that that’s the point,” Brady said. “I never saw race. I think sports transcends race. It transcends wealth. It transcends all that. I mean you, again, you get to know someone else and you appreciate what they bring. And whatever they bring, when you’re in a locker room of 50 guys, you don’t think about race. Because you’re all the same at that point.”
“Whatever it is, you figure out how to get along,” Brady continued. “Sports teaches you about life in that way and it’s very natural.”
He’s enjoying life in Derek Jeter’s former home, but the WiFi could use an upgrade.
One of the initial topics in the interview was Brady’s current home: a 30,000-plus square foot mansion owned by former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Brady confirmed that he’s moved into the home with his family and is enjoying Tampa so far.
“It’s pretty great. I can see why a lot of people live here,” Brady said. “We have a beautiful view overlooking the bay and it’s been 85 degrees. So that part has certainly been pretty good.”
“I’m going to stay here for a while,” Brady said of the home. “Because I had to find a place on really short notice, and he’s been a friend of mine. We just talked and it all worked out because he’s living in Miami.
An early bump in the road for the interview with Stern was an inconsistent internet connection on Brady’s end. While the quarterback tried to join the show over Zoom, a video chat program, the video stream kept freezing. Brady eventually rejoined over the phone.
“Don’t you think Jeter is trying to save on internet?” Stern joked when Brady called back.
“I have to upgrade his system here,” Brady responded.
He partied in high school, but moved away from it because of his father.
One of the qualities that’s helped Brady elevate himself over the years has been his self-discipline. This is something that’s been discussed as part of Brady’s unrelenting “TB12 Method” to keep playing football as a quadragenarian, but it was also prevalent when he was young.
When asked, Brady said that he tried smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol in high school.
“I definitely wanted to fit in with the crowd that kind of went to the parties and had fun,” admitted Brady. “I was kind of friends with those guys, but in the end what really kept me from smoking a lot of weed, and obviously in high school you try that, and I drank, you go to parties and drink and stuff, but I would always feel like I was letting my dad down in a way.”
Brady’s father, Tom Sr., was an entrepreneur who worked long hours. It motivated Brady and helped drive his work ethic.
“I definitely had my fun in high school with partying and drinking, and smoking weed on occasion,” said Brady. “But as a I got later into my high school life, those [things] became less and less and less.”
The mentality of why he always believes he can pull off a comeback.
On his competitive mindset, Brady gave a famous example of how he approaches challenges during a game.
“We were down 28-3 against Atlanta in Super Bowl 51. You can look at that situation and basically quit and say, you know, ‘F*** it. We have no shot of winning,’ or you can say, ‘This is going to be an amazing comeback. When we come back from this, this is going to be the defining moment in life,’ or a defining moment in a professional career.
“I think when you shift your mind and think that way, it becomes very empowering as opposed to very discouraging,” Brady continued. “So anytime we’re down in a game, I think, ‘Man, if we come back and win this game, we’re the hero,’ rather than ‘Oh, s***, we’re screwed. We have no shot.'”
Robert Kraft is wrong about a famous Brady quote.
At one point in the interview, Stern reminded Brady of the oft-cited quote the quarterback made as a rookie to Robert Kraft.
As the story has long been told, Brady allegedly told Kraft, “I’m the best decision this organization has ever made.”
Stern remarked that it was a “cocky” thing for Brady — then a fourth-string rookie — to say to the owner of the team. But Brady insists he was misquoted.
“I didn’t say that, for the record” Brady reminded Stern. “I tried to — he doesn’t remember as well as I do. I remember saying, ‘You’ll never regret picking me. And he always will say I was the best decision, but you know, it’s neither here nor there. But what I mean was, look, you took a chance on me and I’m — like everyone — going to go make you proud.”