Stephon Gilmore when Tom Brady, his teammate in New England since 2017, left the Patriots to sign with the Buccaneers last month. While he didn't speculate on why Brady decided to leave the Patriots, Gilmore said that nothing lasts forever, and that apparently includes Brady's run in New England. Steelers All-Pro safety Minkah FItzpatrick, who faced Brady three times as a Miami Dolphin before being traded to Pittsburgh two games into the 2019 season, also wasn't surprised when he saw the news that Brady would continue his career someplace else.
"I wasn't surprised. I think Tom is a competitor and I think he wants to prove that he can go somewhere else and produce," Fitzpatrick said Friday on ESPN's "First Take." He's a competitor. He's probably the best to do what he does. I think he just wanted to prove, not just to himself, but to the fan base and to the world that he could go somewhere without the great defense that the Patriots have and still have the same success."
Brady, who has not publicly revealed why he decided to leave the Patriots, did detail the night he shared his decision with Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick during Super Bowl wins, nine AFC championships and 17 division titles, said that he began the process with an evening visit to Kraft's home.. Brady, who led the Patriots to six
"We spoke and we had a great conversation," said Brady, who famously told Kraft drafting him was the "best decision this organization ever made" during his rookie training camp. "I just wanted to express what he meant to me in my life and we spoke with Bill Belichick at the same time. We were in different locations, but we talked to him and it was a great conversation. I got a chance to talk to Jonathan Kraft as well and all three of those guys have been involved in so many important decisions in my life both career-related and personal-related.
"I leave there with such great admiration for the people in that organization. It is a first-class organization in every way and I wanted to leave it that way, too."
The general consensus is that Brady wants to prove to all of his doubters (which may or may not include Belichick) that he can still lead a team to a championship at 43-years-old, which is the age he'll turn when the NFL season is slated to begin this fall.
Brady's grocery-sized list of "times he proved the doubters" wrong spans back to his time at the University of Michigan when he outlasted Drew Henson (a highly-touted, two-sport star that never fully realized his potential in either football or baseball) to lead the Wolverines to an Orange Bowl win during his final collegiate game. Two years later, he led the Patriots on their improbable Super Bowl run after relieving an injured Drew Bledsoe two games into the season.
In 2003, following a non-playoff season that led to questions about whether or not the Patriots' 01 title was a fluke, the Patriots began their NFL record 21 game-winning streak that included a Super Bowl win over the Panthers. And while the streak ended on Holloween, 2004, New England's reign atop the pro football landscape wasn't done yet, with the Patriots defeating the Eagles to win their third ring in four years.
Five years later, after a lower-body injury wiped out nearly all of his 2008 season, Brady proved that he was still arguably the league's best quarterback. In 2011, Brady and the Patriots began a run of eight straight AFC Championship Game appearances that included three more Super Bowl wins and five more appearances in the Big Game. This second run of success cemented Brady's legacy as the most accomplished player in league history.
For Brady, winning a seventh Super Bowl at this point in his career, for a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs in 12 years, would be yet another feather on Brady's cap.
"The expectation for me [with the Buccaneers] is to come in and do what I feel is right for the organization and that is to be a great team player," Brady said. "And I'm going to do everything I can to get up to speed with all the things that I need to do and what my responsibilities are."