TAMPA, Fla. — Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady said emphatically Thursday that he had no kind of rift with former head coach Bruce Arians, who announced his retirement shortly after Brady announced his return.
He did not, however, deny reports that he had spoken with the Miami Dolphins about joining their organization in some capacity, and he indicated that he would not pressure tight end and close friend Rob Gronkowski to join. let him come back.
“Zero anything,” Brady said of the Arians. “He and I have a great relationship. Part of the reason I chose here was because of Bruce. I mean, he and I have been – amazing communication – I have great respect for him. He knows how I feel about him — that’s the most important thing. And I know how he feels about me.”
Regarding the Dolphins, who were reportedly interested in making Brady a front office and/or quarterback position despite being under contract with the Buccaneers for one more season, Brady said: “I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people, I had over the last three or four years of my career, about different opportunities when I finished playing football, so, I I kind of made a decision on what I’d like to do, and I’ll get to be in the football game.
“I think for me the most important thing is where I am now and what I hope to do for this team. That’s been my commitment to this team and this organization. It’s been so much fun for me to coming here two years It’s been almost 2½ now and it’s been an amazing part of my football journey and it’s not over.
With Gronkowski being lured out of retirement by Brady for the 2020 season at Tampa, the two have come together this offseason for pitching sessions. But Brady gave no indication Wednesday of the direction Gronkowski is heading.
“I think it’s up to him and we would all love to play with him, but he has to make the best decision for himself and he knows that,” Brady said. “Anyone who cares about him knows he’s doing what’s right for him, which is trying to figure it out – we don’t have training camp for about six weeks, so everything what he has to do to figure it out. I think we’re hoping he does, and if he doesn’t, we still have to go out there and figure out what to do.”
Brady also opened up about his decision to retire, which he announced on Feb. 1, and then call off his retirement, which he announced on March 13. Family played a vital role in both, as his priorities have changed since becoming a husband and father of three, even admitting he needs to improve in those areas.
“It’s very easy when you’re 25 to figure out what you want to do next year,” Brady said. “It’s very difficult when you’re 43 or 44 because there are other things that are pressing and other things that are really important in your life, like your children and your wife and different relationships, things that have always taken a back seat to football, I think that’s how it’s been for me, it’s a challenge and I have to work on those things.
“I think when the football season starts everyone knows it’s 100% football. It’s just the way you have to be, and it’s a big commitment to make. And to play every game, you have to train very hard. I have to train very hard at 44, which is a big commitment. To try to make these decisions — [they] have their challenges. It’s not like when I was 25, but I don’t think any of us feel like when we were 25.
Luckily for good reasons, there are parts where I’m glad I’m not 25 and there are other parts where I wish I felt like I was a little more 25, but I have a very complex and delicate life in many ways — I’m just trying to navigate it as best I can.”
Could he feel happy and whole away from professional football, or will that forever define him?
“I fell in love with the sport when I was young, and I still think there’s a great love for it. I think I always will, unfortunately,” Brady said. “Beyond that – I’m going to stay in football now, that’s pretty clear. So it will be fun. I look forward to every time that happens and every time I decide to make that decision and take my retirement – I think there’s a lot of things about me that kind of don’t end up having a normal offseason. I have to figure out what that would be like, what was really interesting to me. . .. It should be a smoother transition than I would have thought.”
The Bucs lost to the Rams 30-27 in the NFC Divisional Playoffs on Jan. 23. Some teammates felt Brady couldn’t stay away because of the loss, while others were convinced it was the end, making it an emotional roller coaster. coaster of an off-season.
“I kind of knew that. I probably told him two days after the game – I’m like, ‘[Tom], we can’t go out like this,” running back Leonard Fournette said. “He agreed with me. We left too many mistakes on the pitch that spoiled us. We made up the whole game. I think as a champion I knew he wouldn’t want to go out like that for his legacy.”
“I was here,” catcher Mike Evans said, pointing to the ground, “then I got up here. I had no reason to believe he was coming back. He did it all, made a lot of money, the best career ever . And he still wants to play. He loves this game and he loves his teammates and he wants to win. He said he had a bitter taste in his mouth – there’s one in mine I’m glad we got him back for at least another year.”
Brady has done a lot during his 40 day retreat. He poured himself into his new Brady clothing line, filmed two movies, starred in TNT’s golf outing The Match and agreed to a $375 million TV deal with Fox Sports to become an analyst after retiring for true. But somehow he still managed to stay in great shape.
“We still have a lot to accomplish,” Brady said. “I have a long life ahead of me and there are lots of fun things to do; I look forward to what lies ahead in football, but at the same time neither of us are promised much beyond that. what we have now. It’s the current moment, and I’m really excited to go out there and try to compete and win a championship.”