Tom-pa Bay Buccaneers
So Tom Terrific is taking his talents to South Beach. Actually to be more precise some 280 miles north of Miami, but I just can’t help myself with the LeBron reference.
Like The King at that time, Brady is leaving the only team he has ever played for in the New England Patriots, where he was drafted in the sixth round and 199th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft.
But unlike James, Brady is bringing not 1, not 2, not 3… but six Super Bowl rings in his move to Tampa Bay.
While many in the greater Boston area are crying me a river over the departure of their beloved sports icon, there suddenly has been a shortage of wagons across the country as Buccaneer fans are coming out of the woodworks.
Tampa Bay’s chances of ending its 12-year playoff drought has increased many fold with the signing of Brady, while there are question marks on coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ ability to prosper without their former Golden Boy.
The Buccaneers’ only Super Bowl win came in 2003 when their quarterback was Brad Johnson. Incidentally, Tampa Bay’s moment in the sun was sandwiched between the 2002 and 2004 Super Bowl victories of you guessed it, the Pats and Brady in what turned out to be the first two of six times the GOAT of QBs and the GOAT of coaches hoisted the Vince Lombardi trophy.
In Super Bowl XXXVII, I actually rooted for the Buccaneers (does that qualify me as a non-bandwagoner?) against the Oakland Raiders and hazily remember watching the Gruden Bowl at the Dai-Ichi Hotel (Now Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan), which was one of many venues that hosted Super Bowl parties that year.
I admit I was still a pigskin newbie at that time, but heck if these locals were crazy enough to get off from work on a Monday and scream at the top of their lungs and getting themselves wasted on booze while rooting for their favorite team, who am I to spoil the fun.
Plus, there was always an incredible amount of food at Super Bowl viewing parties on Saipan and you know us journalists, the presence of food might as well be our Pied Piper.
Coach John Gruden and his merry band of pirates got the better of a disoriented Raiders side and took the bounty in a rout, 48-21. What proceeded for the Buccaneers were 17 years of nary a sniff of Super Bowl glory, dozen years of which were in non-playoff purgatory.
Brady, meanwhile, during those years was busy cementing his legendary career as the best ever signal-caller in NFL history.
Save for two Super Bowl mishaps against the New York Giants (might as well change their name to Giant-killers) and the one hiccup against the Philadelphia Eagles (that still hurts), Brady always came out on top in football’s biggest stage.
It also helped that Lady Luck smiled his way. For every David Tyree helmet catch in 2008, there’s always a Malcolm Butler end-line interception in 2016. And who could forget Brady masterfully orchestrating the Patriots’ comeback victory against the Atlanta Falcons in 2017.
I watched that game at Bubba Gump and even bought myself a Patriots T-shirt across the street at I Love Saipan. The first half of that game made me throw up not from the food, but from the total shellacking the Falcons were exacting on what appeared to be a tired and beaten New England team.
But Brady and the Pats came out a different team in the second half and the rest was history, as they only engineered the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.
I also watched the 2019 Super Bowl, albeit on my trusty 10-year-old Mac when Brady and the Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams in a yawner that turned out to be their last hurrah.
So why did Tom Brady packed up and left the Patriots? It could be he wanted to win elsewhere and finally settle the age-old debate on who made New England six-time Super Bowl champions, him or coach Bill Belichick.
Or Belichick may have finally convinced Patriots owner Robert Kraft to finally move on from TB12, which was something he probably wanted to do when he drafted Jimmy Garopollo in 2014.
Brady may have also gotten tired of coach Hoodie always whispering sweet nothings in his ear. It could be that the Buccaneers allowing him to reportedly have a say on personnel decisions also swayed him to leave the comfy confines of the Gillette Stadium. It helps that Florida also has no state tax. Or maybe just maybe, Gisele and the kids just want to leave frigid Massachusetts for the Sunshine State.
In the end, Brady simply might have 50 million reasons (nearly $60 million if you include incentives) why he chose Tampa Bay.