Throughout the season, Tom Brady — predictably — has fielded questions about the New England Patriots, in addition to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brady reportedly developed a rift with the Patriots as his time in New England wound down, most notably with Bill Belichick. But while he didn’t answer certain questions directly this season, he was consistently respectful of the team with whom he spent the first 20 years of his career, and the fans who supported him throughout two decades.
Here’s a sampling of what Brady had to say about the Patriots throughout the year.
On Bill Belichick (Feb. 1, 2021): “I have a great relationship with him. I’m just incredibly grateful for what he’s meant in my life as a coach. He was everything you could ask for as a player. I loved my time (in New England). I had two incredible decades there.
“My football journey took me to a different place. I certainly could never have accomplished anything in my career without his support and his teachings.”
On whether Patriots fans should cheer for him (Jan. 28, 2021): “I had an incredible 20 years, really just an incredible 20 years. I wouldn’t change anything over the course of 20 years that were magical, and all the relationships that I developed. Those shaped me into who I am as a person, as a player. My kids were born in Boston, I have great affection for the city and everything that Boston has meant to me and my family. And all of New England, not just Boston.”
On comparing the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl appearance to the Patriots (Jan. 25, 2021): “It’s hard to compare. It’s not worth it comparing any of that to me. It doesn’t really matter. It’s an incredible feeling and to win a conference championship is incredible. To win a Super Bowl championship is one of the great feelings in the world. But they don’t give these away. Obviously, everything’s different this year, with us being at home. I’m sure it’ll feel like just another game, although we all know it’s just not another game.”
On New England weather (Dec. 10, 2020): “The last couple of days have felt like early October mornings where I have been in the northeast for a long time. I’ve been loving wearing a hoodie for a couple days. It’s amazing to be at this point in the season and still be outside practicing. Today turned into a really nice day. I know we have a warm one coming up on Sunday.
“I always came down to Florida late in the year. We always played the Dolphins, they were in our conference, and it was pretty tough to adjust to. Just being in it really prepares you for the heat because it definitely takes a toll if you’re not used to it.”
On the Patriots’ bad record in November (Nov. 5, 2020): “I have a lot of relationships with a lot of teammates. I wish everybody the best all the time. I don’t ever wish for anyone to not perform at their best. I certainly wish for our team to play its best. Maybe the only team I don’t root for is the team we’re playing on that particular Sunday.”
“Other than that, it’s just about us being the best we can be, working hard every day to put ourselves in a great position to be successful.”
On choosing Tampa Bay (Aug. 18, 2020):
“When I added it up, Tampa seemed like it was a great opportunity. If I think back at the decision, I am so happy with the decision I made. …
“I spent 20 years in one place. I left on great terms, and I have so much respect for everybody in that organization.”
On his relationship with Robert Kraft (March 24, 2020): “I’m not responsible for how other people will say certain things. Mr. Kraft has been a great influence in my life. I’m so grateful for those two decades. It’s been an amazing thing for my family. I’m sure when I’m done playing, I’ll look back and have a chance to really re-evaluate my entire career.
On leaving New England, in an Instagram post addressed to fans (March 17, 2020): “I wanted to say thank you to all of the incredible fans and Patriot supporters. MA has been my home for twenty years. It has truly been the happiest two decades I could have envisioned in my life and I have nothing but love and gratitude for my time in New England. The support has been overwhelming — I wish every player could experience it. My children were born and raised here and you always embraced this California kid as your own. I love your commitment and loyalty to your teams and winning for our city means more than you will ever know. I can’t thank you enough for the support of our team. The packed training camps and sold out stadiums and mostly the victory parades. I have been so blessed to share them with you all. I tried to represent us always in the best and most honorable way, and I fought hard with my teammates to help bring victory and triumph even in the most dire situations. You opened your heart to me, and I opened my heart to you. And Pats Nation will always be a part of me. I don’t know what my football future holds but it is time for me to open a new stage for my life and career. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I will always love you and what we have shared — a lifetime full of fun memories.”
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