Tom Brady has been around the NFL for so long he was in his 20s when he was throwing touchdown passes to Mike Vrabel in Super Bowls. Vrabel, just two years older than Brady, was playing linebacker at Ohio State when Brady was at Michigan in the late 1990s.
Safe to say the duo have crossed paths a lot, a reason why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans joint practices this week are a reunion tour for the former New England Patriots teammates. Brady has gone up against Vrabel's defense in practices before (the Patriots used to have joint practices with the Titans), noticing a big change from when Vrabel was going against him during his playing days to facing his defensive scheme now.
"I think he's toned down a little bit in his old age," Brady said to reporters Wednesday at Buccaneers camp. "He's not as rambunctious as he used to be. He was much chattier as a player. He complained a lot when I didn't throw him a ball like a typical diva receiver.
"He has, I think, mellowed out as a coach a little bit. He's doing a great job and he's a great coach. Obviously, he was a great player so he kind of coaches the way he would have played – try to be smart and really try to make them beat you. They've always done a good job of that."
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Brady -- still a player -- kept aspects to his personality he's carried with him for two decades. If anything, playing in Tampa Bay has allowed Brady to showcase a little more of his personality -- making him more likeable around the league.
"It's really fun for me. I love physically to train to put myself in a position to compete. I love the mental aspect of the sport. I have a lot of fun doing it," Brady said. "It [brings] a lot of joy in my life. I think so much of it is you can do anything with people you want to really be with, things will look great. You're with your kids, you're with your family, it doesn't matter if you're at the park, the house, the movies – you're having a great time.
"I have a great group of teammates, a great group of coaches. I'm really enjoying the camaraderie, and again, we get to play football so that bring us all a lot of joy. It's a lot of fun. Competition is great. I have to keep earning it. I don't think there is any aspect of me that thinks what I've done last year means anything. I have to go do it this year."
Brady could still be playing football when he's Vrabel's age with that mentality. He's wasn't sure if Vrabel would be a coach when they played, but he is proud of his former teammate over what he's accomplished in his next career.
"He's really excelled at it," Brady said. "To go from playing to coaching at Ohio State, to Houston, to Tennessee – he's a great guy and he's a great coach."