Tom Brady may have point to prove at Buccaneers as new NFL season gets underway
After what feels frankly like forever, the new NFL season is finally here.
A lot has happened since the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers back in February, and not just in football.
Covid-19 will see many teams kick off the new season with no fans in the stadium at all, while others have a severely reduced capacity.
The virus has meant we have seen no pre-season action and little from training camps, perhaps whetting the appetite even more for the season start.
One of the more intriguing sights from this coming weekend will be just how Tom Brady looks without a New England Patriots uniform on.
It had been heavily talked about, but how many really thought Brady would ever represent another NFL franchise?
The QB, who turned 43 last month, has left Foxborough and rocked up at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In doing so, Brady ended his partnership with Bill Belichick, teaming up instead with Bruce Arians.
The six-time Super Bowl champion lured Rob Gronkowski out of retirement to join him in Florida and many have now tipped the Bucs to reach the play-offs this year.
Though questions remain over whether Brady still has what it takes. He’s certainly been challenged in the QB ranks by the likes of Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes in recent seasons, falling behind the duo last time out.
But Tampa may just be the perfect location for TB12 to prove his doubters wrong and make his point that old does not mean useless.
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Despite being the wrong side of 40, Brady certainly doesn’t feel like he’s coming near the end of his career and is enjoying the difficulties that joining a new franchise poses.
“Yeah, I think every football season is a big challenge in one way or another," Brady said.
“Obviously for me, changing teams after a long period of time [has] given me an opportunity to really look at myself and what I want to continue to achieve in my career and think that I can bring to a team.
“It’s been different having the opportunity over this time to move and to, for example, study my playbook. I mean I really haven’t had to do that in 19 years, so you forget, ‘Man, that’s really tough’ – like all of the different terminologies.
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“You’re going back a very long time in my career to really have to put the mental energy in like I did. I have to work at it pretty hard physically still.
“I put a lot of time and energy into making sure I’m feeling good in order to perform at my best, but mentally I think that’s been the thing that’s obviously had its challenges."
The Bucs may not reach the Super Bowl this year but with Brady involved, the play-offs beckon.
And from there, it’d be foolish to dismiss the possibility of a team featuring Brady and Gronkowski to go further than the Bucs have gone since 2002.
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NFC as open as ever
Tom Brady’s departure leaves the door open for Buffalo Bills to end the Patriots’ AFC East domination.
But away from the Pats, who brought in Cam Newton as QB, it’s hard to look past the Chiefs or Baltimore Ravens in the AFC.
As Sky Sports host Neil Reynolds recently agreed, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson could dominate the sport for the next decade.
It’s a bit more open in the NFC. As mentioned earlier, don’t rule out the Bucs.
But the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks will have something to say, as will Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
The 49ers will be strong but may suffer something of a Super Bowl hangover, though once in the play-offs, anything can happen.
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Boost for UK fans
The first game of the season sees Super Bowl champs the Chiefs take on Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football.
It’s set to be a great opener but it may not be the most watched in the UK in Week One.
Many will be waiting to hear Scott Hansen mention that “seven hours of commercial free football starts now” on RedZone.
But it’s the return of regular live football on UK television that has the mouth watering the most.
Channel 5, previously an NFL broadcaster from 1998 to 2009, will kick off its coverage on Sunday with a new magazine style show before Monday Night Football launches on September 14 as the New York Giants host the Pittsburgh Steelers.
We are all ears, or should that be eyes, to more football on UK TV.
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