TAMPA, Fla. — Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady insisted Thursday he had no disagreements with former head coach Bruce Arians, who announced his retirement shortly after Brady’s announcement of his return.
However, he did not deny reports that he had spoken with the Miami Dolphins about joining their organization in any capacity, and he indicated he would not pressure tight end and close friend Rob Gronkowski to return.
“Nothing at all,” Brady said of Arians. “He and I have a great relationship. One reason I chose here was Bruce. I mean, he and I were – amazing communication – I have a lot of respect for him. He knows how I feel about him — that’s the most important thing. And I know how he feels about me.”
As for the Dolphins, who were reportedly interested in bringing Brady in a front office role and/or quarterback despite being signed to the Buccaneers for another season, Brady said, “I’ve had a lot of conversations with a lot of people that I’ve had in the last three or four years of my career about different options when I’m done playing football, so I kind of made a decision about what I want to do and I’m going to be there at the football game be.
“I think for me the most important thing is where I am now and what I hope to do for this team. That was my commitment to this team and this organization. It was so much fun coming here two years ago. It’s almost 2½ now and it’s been an incredible part of my football journey and it’s not over yet.
With Gronkowski being lured out of retirement by Brady for the 2020 season in Tampa, the two have met for pitching sessions this offseason. But Brady gave no indication Wednesday as to which direction Gronkowski is leaning.
“I think it’s obviously up to him and we’d all love to play with him, but he has to make the best decision for himself and he knows it,” Brady said. “Anyone who looks after him knows he’s doing the right thing for him, which is trying to figure it out – we haven’t got a training camp for about six weeks so he has to do whatever it takes to figure it out. I think we’ I hope he does, and if he doesn’t, we still have to go out there and figure out what to do.”
Brady also spoke about his decision to retire, which he announced on February 1, and then not to retire, which he announced on March 13. Family played an essential role in both cases as his priorities have shifted since becoming a husband and father even to three children admitting he needs to improve in these areas.
“It’s very easy when you’re 25 to know what you want to do next year,” Brady said. “It’s very challenging when you’re 43 or 44 because there are other things that are urgent and other things that are really important in your life, like your kids and your wife and different relationships, things that have always taken a back seat to football. I think for me it just happened, it’s challenging and I have to work on those things.
“I think when the football season starts everyone knows it’s 100 per cent football. It’s just how you have to be and that’s a big commitment. And to play every game you have to train really hard.” . I have to train really hard at 44, which is a big commitment. Trying to make those decisions — [they] have their challenges. It’s not like that when I was 25, but I don’t think any of us feel like that when we’re 25.
Luckily for good reasons, there are parts where I’m happy I’m not 25 and there are other parts where I wish I felt a little bit more 25, but I have a very complex, difficult one Life in different aspects — I’m just trying to navigate it as best as I can.”
Could he be happy and healthy away from professional football, or will it always define him?
“I fell in love with this sport when I was a little kid and I still think there is a great love for it. I think I unfortunately always will,” Brady said. “Beyond that – I’m going to stay in football now, that’s pretty clear. So this is going to be fun. I look forward to whenever that happens and whenever I decide to make that decision and retire — I think there’s a lot of things about me that didn’t end with having a normal off-season. I had to figure out what it would look like, which was really interesting to me. … It should be a smoother transition than I thought it would be. “
The Bucs lost 30-27 to the Rams on Jan. 23 in the NFC Divisional Playoff. Some teammates felt Brady couldn’t stay away because of the loss, while others were convinced it was the end, making for an emotional rollercoaster of an offseason.
“I kind of knew. I probably told him two days after the game – I think, ‘[Tom]’We can’t go out like that,'” said running back Leonard Fournette. “He agreed with me. We left too many mistakes on the field that kind of screwed us up. We played catching up the whole game. I think as a champion, I knew he didn’t want to end up like that for his legacy.”
“I was down here,” wide receiver Mike Evans said, pointing at the floor, “and then I went up here. I had no reason to believe he would come back. He’s done it all, made big money, best career ever. And he still wants to play. He just loves this game and he loves his teammates and he wants to win. He said there’s a sour taste in his mouth – there’s one in mine too. I’m glad we’ve got him back for at least another year.”
Brady has accomplished a lot in his 40-day retirement. He’s thrown himself into his new Brady clothing line, made two movies, starred in TNT’s The Match golf outing, and agreed to a $375 million television deal with Fox Sports to become an analyst after truly retiring. But somehow he still managed to stay in top form.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Brady said. “I have a long life ahead of me and lots of fun things to do; I’m looking forward to what’s ahead in football, but at the same time – none of us are promised much more than what we have now. This is the moment and I’m really looking forward to getting out there and trying to compete and win a championship.”