Rick Stroud: This could be Tom Brady’s most magnificent finish yet

Tribune Content Agency

TAMPA, Fla. — Tom Brady has pulled off some fantastic finishes, but possibly none more miraculous than the one he is attempting with the Bucs.

The quarterback that stress forgot sounded a bit anxious Tuesday when he rattled off all the things stacked against him before he takes his first center snap in Tampa Bay. After spending 20 seasons and winning six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, the king of cool faces more than his share of challenges in having to switch teams, teammates and cities.

Not only does he have to decipher and execute a new offense, he will have to do it without knowing when NFL facilities will re-open or travel will be unrestricted amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen and what’s predicted for our access to the team facilities and so forth, so I’m going to do my best to be in conversation with guys and try to get together and find ways try to meet up in different places and get to work in that sense,” said Brady during Tuesday’s introductory conference call with media. “Technology is an amazing thing and we’re going to use technology as best we can to try and get to know each other and for me … It’s a lot of time and energy but that’s what I love to do.

“There’s a lot of ground to make up because I haven’t worked these players and I’m going to have to learn what they do, and their body language and how they like things. That’s part of the challenge.”

Time already is running out on the NFL offseason. Who knows if there will be training camp, preseason or even a regular season?

For Brady, this is second and 42. Second team. Forty-two years old. This is also the Bucs, a team that hasn’t reached the postseason in 12 years.

General manager Jason Licht said Brady’s addition to the Bucs will be “transformative.” Coach Bruce Arians talked about how the signing of Brady “makes everyone better that walks into that huddle.”

That may be true, but nobody has had a steeper climb than the one Brady is attempting.

When the preseason publications start arriving in newsstands this summer, the Bucs will be expected to instantly morph into not only one of the best teams in the NFC South, but also in the conference.

“I said the other day, no one cares what you did in the past, they don’t care what you did last year or five years ago or 10 years ago,” Brady said. “And I think the knowledge I’ve had with experience playing quarterback will allow me to transition quickly.”

There will be a lot for Brady to catch up on. Start with Arians’ offense, a vertical passing attack known for getting five eligible receivers out on every passing down.

“Everybody has somewhat different styles and philosophies for how they call things, but football to me is about throwing the ball to the guy who’s open,” Brady said. “ … You get the ball to the guys who can do something with it.”

Typically, Brady doesn’t attend organized team activities, and under the current pandemic, there likely won’t be any. But as soon as travel is safe again, it’s possible he will arrange one of his passing camps near a home in Yellowstone Club in Montana.

“As soon as we can get those things going, the greater it will be for everybody, but understanding the circumstances of what we’re dealing with,” Brady said. “We’re in a little different approach and we’re going to have to adjust, as is what happens in football and happens in life. And that’s what my plan is.”

Brady also must move his life from New England to Tampa Bay.

“And it’s not like I’m 25 where I basically pack a suitcase and go,” he said. “I have three kids and it’s changing a little bit of our life, but that’s life and that’s what people do and that’s what you do when you have opportunities at other jobs in other places. … I’m no different than what so many other people have gone through.”

Let’s face it, Tampa Bay may be a popular place to live, but it has not been a destination city for players anywhere close to Brady’s caliber.

The Bucs’ sad history is of a franchise with a .387 winning percentage, one Lombardi Trophy following the 2002 season and no playoff appearance since 2007. Paradigm shifts have been attempted but rarely occurred with the Bucs.

Tampa Bay is where many careers have come to die.

Instead, Brady gives the Bucs belief, a reason not to leave your seats at Raymond James Stadium until 2020 and 2021 have ended.

‘I’m prepared to give them every bit of commitment that I’ve had my entire career to be the best that I can be to help this team be the best it can be,” Brady said. “I did say there’s not one person that makes a team, it’s every single person doing their job every day that’s committed and determined to be the best.

“I’m a very disciplined quarterback, I try to follow through on the things that I’m committed to and I try to work every day to be the best that I can be, and that’s what I’m going to try and push my teammates to do and I’m excited to get started.”


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