As if Tom Brady needed any more reasons to be motivated. Moving on from Bill Belichick and wanting to prove he could win a championship without him, Brady looked to showcase to the NFL he still was at the top of his game as he entered his mid 40s.
Some teams didn't want to take a chance on Brady when the then six-time Super Bowl champion hit the free agent market, however. That was enough for Brady to want to prove to those franchises that passing on him was a mistake, especially since it isn't every day the greatest quarterback ever hits the open market.
"It would be a no-brainer if you said, 'Hey, you've got a chance to get Wayne Gretzky on your team,' or 'You get a chance to have Michael Jordan on your team,'" Brady said to Jim Gray during a SiriusXM Town Hall event earlier this week, via NFL.com. "'Ahh, we don't need him. No thanks, we're good.'"
Brady has every right to compare himself to Gretzky and Jordan, even before he captured his seventh Super Bowl title. Jordan had six championships and five league MVP awards while Gretzky had nine league MVPs, the two greatest players their respective sports have ever seen. Brady is the greatest winner the NFL had ever seen when he hit free agency, having six Super Bowl titles and three league MVP awards.
Yet, Brady was coming off a season where he had a 60.8 completion percentage (his lowest since 2013), 4,057 passing yards (his lowest playing all 16 games since 2010), 24 touchdown passes (his lowest since 2006), and an 88.0 passer rating (his lowest since 2013). He was also 42 years old and heading into his age-43 season.
"In my mind, I'm kind of thinking, okay, let me go show those teams what they're missing," Brady said. "And at the same time, let me go prove to the team that did bet on me, and the team that really showed that they really wanted me and committed to me, that I'm not going to let them down."
All Brady did was set the NFL record for touchdown passes in his first season with a new team (40) and second-most passing yards in year one with a new team (4,633). Brady took the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl while becoming the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl and win it at 43 years, 188 days. Brady finished second in the NFL in completions (401), tied for second in passing touchdowns (40), and third in passing yards (4,633). He led the Buccaneers to the franchise's second Super Bowl title, as Tampa Bay became the first franchise to win the Super Bowl in its own stadium.
Another year Brady proved his doubters wrong.