Tom Brady’s Howard Stern interview: 10 key revelations on Patriots, Buccaneers and life with Gisele
Tom Brady’s first-ever guest spot with Howard Stern on the latter’s Sirius XM radio show Wednesday will go down as one of the greatest sports interviews of all time.
The Patriots-turned-Buccaneers quarterback talked to Stern over Zoom and the phone for more than two hours from the St. Petersburg, Fla., home he’s renting from Derek Jeter. Brady was candid in the conversation, revealing things about his time with New England, his decision to sign with Tampa Bay this offseason and his married life with wife Gisele Bundchen.
The colorful language and locker-room stories were par for the course with Stern, but here are the 10 most important things we learned from Brady.
1) Tom Brady treated 2019 like his Patriots swan song
Brady officially decided to sign with the Buccaneers on March 16 and got closure with the Patriots when he was able to tearily meet face to face with owner Robert Kraft not long afterward. The when to leave New England, however, was pretty clear long before the where.
“I don’t think there was a final, final decision until it happened, but I would say I probably knew before the start of last season that it was my last year,” Brady told Stern. “I knew that our time was coming to an end.”
2) Tom Brady and Bill Belichick parted on good terms
There’s always been talk of a potential fracture in the professional, Super Bowl-winning relationship between Brady his now former head coach. Brady made it clear again that wasn’t the case.
“To have him allow me to be the best I can be … I’m grateful for that. I very much believe that he feels the same way about me, because we’ve expressed that to each other,” Brady said.
Brady also said that Belichick had a complete understanding that his decision to leave the Patriots was related to accepting a new personal challenge.
“This is a part for me, in my life, to experience something very different,” Brady told Stern. “There are ways for me to grow and evolve in a different way that I haven’t had the opportunity to do — that aren’t right or wrong, but just right for me.”
3) Tom Brady doesn’t like people debating whether he or Belichick meant more to Patriots
Brady is absolutely right on this one. It’s an inane sports talk debate when neither quarterback nor coach would have accomplished the same big things without each other.
“I think it’s a pretty sh—y argument actually that people would say that, because, again, I can’t do his job, and he can’t do mine,” Brady said. “So the fact you could say, ‘Would I be successful without him, the same level of success?’ I don’t believe I would have been. But I feel the same, vice versa, as well.”
4) Tom Brady didn’t consider finishing career with Patriots just to stay a Patriot
Brady mentioned earlier that he wasn’t one for nostalgia and that he wouldn’t get sentimental about his football decision. There was no thought that moving on to another team would taint all that he’s done in his career.
“I never cared about legacy. I could give a s—t about that,” Brady told Stern. “I never once, when I was in high school, said, ‘Man, I can’t wait for what my football legacy looks like.’ That’s just not me. That’s just not my personality.”
For Brady, his time with the Patriots was fantastic, but that’s now a closed chapter.
“I had accomplished everything I could in two decades with an incredible organization and an incredible group of people,” Brady said. “That will never change. No one can ever take that away from me. No one can take those Super Bowl championships or experiences away from us.”
5) Tom Brady fully embraced the ‘Do Your Job’ mindset of Patriots on level of Belichick
Stern made Brady recall times when he was frustrated by teammates. Although Brady would avoid being cold about those situations, his demand for excellence is what made him thrive in the Patriots’ culture and system.
“I would say, ‘I don’t have any trust that this guy can help us win the game.’ I can definitely express my opinion to say if you put him out there, I’m not going to throw him the ball. The whole team is trusting me to do what’s right by the team,” Brady said. “So you can’t put someone out there that I don’t believe in, because if I don’t believe in him, it’s worthless for the team.
“Fortunately for me, Coach Belichick always saw it as the same way as me, which is why I think we had such a great connection, because he saw football pretty much the same way I saw football.”
6) Tom Brady really believes every setback is a setup for a big comeback
Brady talked to Stern about the steps he’s had to take to overcome adversity through his football-playing life. With it, he revealed what he and the Patriots were thinking during his signature performance — sorry, Falcons fans.
“We were down 28-3 against Atlanta in Super Bowl 51. You can look at that situation and basically quit and say, you know, ‘F—k it. We have no shot of winning,’ or you can say, ‘This is going to be an amazing comeback.
“When we come back from this, this is going to be the defining moment in life, or a defining moment in a professional career. I think when you shift your mind and think that way, it becomes very empowering as opposed to very discouraging. So anytime we’re down in a game, I think, ‘Man, if we come back and win this game, we’re the hero,’ rather than, ‘Oh, we’re screwed. We have no shot.'”
7) Tom Brady had to make serious football changes to save marriage with Gisele Bundchen
Brady has been married to Gisele for 11 years, but that relationship hit a rough patch not long ago until Brady made the decision to skip OTAs in the spring as part of better dedicating himself to their family life with their son Benjamin and daughter Vivian. What inspired him to change was a heartfelt letter Gisele wrote, which he keeps as a reminder.
“A couple of years ago, she didn’t feel like I was doing my part for the family. She felt like I would play football all season, and she’d take care of the house,” Brady said. “Then, when the season ended, I’d be like, ‘Great, let me get into all my other business activities. Let me get into my football training.’ And she’s going, ‘When are you going to do things for the house? When are you going to take the kids to school?'”
Brady admitted it was a necessary wake-up call for his priorities — and in the end he found necessary football-life balance.
“That was a big part of our marriage. I had to check myself,” Brady said. “I had to make a big transition in my life to say, ‘I can’t do all the things that I wanted to do for football like I used to. I’ve got to take care of things in my family,’ Because my family, the situation wasn’t great. She wasn’t satisfied with our marriage. So, I needed to make a change in that.”
8) Tom Brady doesn’t worry about whether he should be making more money
Stern mentioned to Brady that had he been a world-class entertainer not in sports, there would be no limit to what he would earn for his services. Brady was rather diplomatic about his status in the wake of the NFL approving its new collective bargaining agreement.
“I’m an employee, and when you’re an employee, you are subject to different negotiations. It’s a very convoluted conversation piece — who deserves more, the players or the owners?” Brady said. “The owners take a lot of risk in buying it, players take a lot of risk in playing it. Because it’s a great business, there’s a lot of money to go around for everybody. I want the players to be compensated fairly for what I believe we provide to the game.”
9) Tom Brady chose the Buccaneers because they checked most of his boxes
Between “authentic” offensive-minded coach Bruce Arians, elite wide receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, a chance to stay on the East Coast near family and the warm weather of Florida, Brady told Stern the Buccaneers offered the best combination of assets in the courting process — something Brady also appreciated in itself.
“Being a free agent, I learned so much about having the opportunity to evaluate what the priorities really were for me. Coaching was hugely important … I like him a lot,” Brady said of Arians. “He’s definitely someone who tells you straight and I appreciate that, too.
“I wrote down about 20 different things that were important to me. I prioritized what was important and I kind of scaled it, looking at all the opportunities that were out there. There was a family decision — my son Jack lives in New York and ending up close to him ended up being really important. … I wanted to continue to play with great players. It’s also the first time I’ll play in a warm climate, which is pretty great.
“It felt good. You have this college recruiting process where all the schools come and they want to show you their best. It was a fun experience. I enjoyed that aspect of seeing what other teams could offer.”
10) Tom Brady didn’t think about retiring at 42 because he feels he can still do a lot in the NFL
In the end, the Buccaneers showed Brady a lot of faith by giving him a two-year deal. Brady wouldn’t have made the decision to extend his career to another team if he didn’t have the confidence that he could take that team to new heights.
“If I didn’t think I could do that, I wouldn’t have continued to play. But I believe I can have a great impact,” Brady said.
“I wanted to make a decision where I thought I could really excel as a player — that’s what it came down to — where could I really excel, achieve and bring my best out? Which environment would be the best for me to excel in? I chose this one, and time will tell what kind of decision that I made. All I know is what I can put into it.”
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