By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady sat down for an interview with James Corden this week, and his comments about having a little too much tequila and chucking the Lombardi Trophy across the river are getting the majority of the headlines. Understandably so. Brady doesn’t often appear in public without looking and acting perfect, so when he behaves like a normal person, folks want to hear and see more about it.READ MORE: 'George Floyd’s Life Mattered': Local Politicians React To Derek Chauvin Verdict
In that same interview, though, Brady once again broke character, giving an honest assessment when discussing how the expectations in New England wore him down a little bit, thus leading to a renewed sense of energy in tackling a completely different challenge during his first year in Tampa.
“It was very different, because where I was for 20 years was obviously, it was great for me. It was spectacular. I wouldn’t have changed anything,” Brady told Corden. “And I think that when we were at that point with the Patriots, everyone at the start of the season would be like, ‘Well, who are you guys playing in the championship game?’ And it always got to be like, you know, the expectations were so — uh, not unrealistic, it was just like, people jumped ahead of all the intense competition. Which, in the end for us, you kind of feel like it’s a lot harder than that. It’s a lot harder than that.”
Of course, the results of the Patriots year after year created those expectations. During the “first run” of the dynasty, the Patriots reached the AFC Championship Game in five out of seven years from 2001-07, winning three Super Bowls in that time and losing another. In the “second run” from 2009-18, the Patriots reached the AFC title game for eight straight years, winning three more Super Bowls and losing two more.
The Buccaneers were in a slightly different spot. After winning the Super Bowl in 2002, the Bucs franchise won zero playoff games in the 17 years that followed. They only made the playoffs twice during that stretch, a period when Brady himself won 27 playoff games.
Being in that completely different spot helped Brady channel his energy as he entered a unique NFL season.
“I think going into this year was different for me, because you go to a different place, and that wasn’t really the question that was being asked,” Brady said. “The question is, ‘Can you guys be successful? How are you going to be successful? How are you going to learn your teammates? How are they going to learn you?’ And the next thing you know, we’re thrust into the season.”READ MORE: Gov. Baker Makes National Guard Available After Chauvin Guilty Verdict
Brady also said the trajectory of the Bucs’ 2020 season was one of steady growth. It began with a loss against the Saints, “one of the best teams in the league. After the “slow start,” as Brady put it, the team improved, only to hit “a pretty rough patch” in November.
“Man, the last four weeks of the season and through the postseason, we really just found our rhythm. And we found our rhythm and we just, we really had the pedal on the metal,” Brady said. “It was so much fun to see a team come together the way that it did. And the belief as we kept going, it was like, it grew and grew and grew and grew. And I think by the time we had gotten to the Super Bowl, all of us still felt like we were still getting better, we were still improving, [thinking] ‘man if the game was a month from now, we would still be getting better.’ And I think that was a great feeling to have going into that game, which is I think why we all felt so much confidence that we were really … we weren’t going on fumes at that point. We weren’t trying to survive the season. We were really excited about where we were at, and we really wanted to finish that game the right way and prove to everyone that we were deserving to be the champs.”
To be sure, parts of Brady’s comments were in line with his usual way of speaking. That is to say, if you’re not paying attention, it could all kind of blend together and not make an impact.
Yet when viewed from the lens which Brady provided — comparing his 2020 championship season with some of the other six Super Bowl-winning seasons from his past — it is fascinating to see how the greatest winner the sport has ever seen found and embraced and fought through a new series of challenges. For someone with Brady’s history, with unprecedented success and with 20 years in the league, finding new ways to push oneself is not necessarily the simplest thing.
It helps provide a little more light on what led to the breakup of Brady and Bill Belichick, the most powerful duo in NFL history. As Brady noted, the 20 years together were “spectacular,” but when everyone comes to just assume that a trip to the conference title game is a birthright that should be marked on the calendar before a preseason game is ever played, it can eliminate some of the nuances in understanding how difficult it is to actually get that far.
That’s not the only reason that Brady left, of course. And it might not even be a reason for his departure. It’s nevertheless interesting to get that kind of insight on what drives Brady and what keeps him going at an age where almost every other quarterback in history has long been retired.
The 43-year-old Brady, as we know, is not retired, and has no plans to walk away any time soon. His challenge this offseason will have to be finding a way to come up with new challenges for his age 44 season.MORE NEWS: Derek Chauvin Found Guilty On All 3 Counts In Death Of George Floyd