Six-time NFL Super Bowl champion Tom Brady foresaw his exit from the New England Patriots long before he announced it, the quarterback on Wednesday told radio host Howard Stern in an interview that touched on his emotional departure, his new life in Tampa Bay and his friendship with US President Donald Trump.
“I probably knew before the start of last season that it was my last year,” Brady said. “Our time was coming to an end.”
Brady last month announced that he was leaving the Patriots in free agency after two decades with the team with which he broke numerous NFL records, including most Super Bowl wins, most Super Bowl appearances and most playoff wins, marking a profound end to a storied NFL partnership.
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Brady said that he told team owner Robert Kraft in person that he would not rejoin the team and called head coach Bill Belichick immediately after.
“I was crying. I’m a very emotional person,” Brady said. “I have a deep caring for the people I’ve worked with.”
The 42-year-old, who since signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said that he harbors no ill will toward his former team, and pushed aside the common debate over who was the true star of the Patriots’ success: Belichick or himself.
“I can’t do his job and he can’t do mine,” Brady said.
Like millions of Americans, the four-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player is living in relative lockdown with his wife and children, amid the COVID-19 pandemic that upended the professional sports calendar and brought life to a grinding halt around the world.
Unlike millions of Americans, Brady said that he is staying at a sprawling Tampa Bay mansion that he rented from Baseball Hall of Famer Derek Jeter — adjusting to a radically different environment from New England, which he called home for two decades.
A long-time friend of Trump, Brady faced controversy when one of the now-president’s “Make America Great Again” hats appeared in his locker in 2015, but said that he turned down an invitation to speak at the 2016 Republican National Convention and has since avoided the political sphere.
“I got brought into a lot of those things because it was so polarizing,” Brady said. “It was uncomfortable for me because you can’t undo things — and not that I would undo a friendship — but the political support is totally different than the support of a friend.”
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