It’s big for Brady, but he’s seen bigger

by Gary Shelton on October 1, 2021

in general

Brady returns to play his old team./TIM WIRT

Friday, 3 a.m.

Yes, it's a big game. Yes, there is a lot of talk about it.

But is it Tom Brady's biggest game ever?


We live in the day of hyperbole. In Brady, you're talking about a player who has played in 10 Super Bowls. The Patriots -- under Bill Belichick -- played in

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nine of them. For both teams, this is just another step on the journey, albeit a loud, emotional step. If he loses, Brady will still be the most accomplished quarterback of all time. If he loses, Belichick will still be the most accomplished coach.

Any questions?

"He (Belichick) is a great coach, obviously a great coach," Brady said.
"[He] has everyone prepared, does a great job of that. Obviously, I've said before, [he] taught me a lot. He was a great mentor for me for a long time and I really enjoyed my time in New England. But at the same time, I'm super excited about what we've done here. I've got a great group of coaches here, an amazing group of guys that still motivate me and inspire me to be the best I can be for this team and this organization. The last 18 months have been very fulfilling in a lot of different ways and I love my football experience here, as well. I've been very blessed.

"The 20 years in New England were incredible. I learned a lot. Coming down here for a year-and-a-half I've learned a lot. I have nothing but incredible thoughts, memories, emotions towards all of the kinds of football experiences I've had. That's obviously one that was the longest and I still have a lot of great friends there, but they know I want to kick their butt this week. They'll know exactly how I'm feeling once I'm out there."

Of course, Brady isn't likely to tell secrets in a press conference. Whatever frustrations he might have felt in his final years in New England will remain buried. He will allow it is a big game for a Bucs' team that is coming off a loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

"They're really well coached," Brady said of the Pats' defense. "Obviously, they've got a lot of great players, smart players. They're going to be in the right spot. They prepare really well. Obviously being there for a long time I know how well they prepare. I think when you put great preparation with great players, it makes for a great defense. They have one of the great defenses in the league. Dont'a [Hightower] and Kyle [Van Noy], Ja'Whaun [Bentley], Matt Judon's a great player. Obviously, the guys up front – Lawrence [Guy], Deatrich [Wise], I know those guys really well. Jon Jones, Devin [McCourty], Kyle Dugger, Adrian [Phillips], J.C. [Jackson]'s a great player. Jalen Mills I've played against. I'm pretty familiar with kind of who they are, what they do. We've just got to go do a great job against it. But they're going to make it challenging. It's going to be a very, very, very tough game."

But does admiring one's opponent make it one of the top games of his career?

"I've played in a lot of big games," Brady said. "This is a big game for our team, a big game for our guys. We had a tough loss last week. We want to get back on track, get back to winning. You've got to do things right, right? Obviously, this team challenges you to do it the right way. They do a lot of difficult things for the offense. It will be a big challenge for us."

Said offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich: “I don’t think this will be his first emotional game. I think being in the games that he’s played in, being in the moments that he’s been in, I think he’ll handle his emotions well to be honest with you. He always does. I wouldn’t expect nothing less. I expect it to be a little bit different for him. It has to be. That doesn’t mean anything. It’s probably different before the game, before the snap. Once the game is kicked off, I’m quite sure football will turn into football. That’s for all football players – you’ll lock in and try to execute and play well on the football field. But I’m quite sure before and after it will be emotional.”

Look, if the Bucs were a 6-10 team looking for highlights, yeah, this could be a big game. But to most of the Bucs, it isn't as big as a wildcard game, let alone a game late in the post-season.

"I haven't thought too much about it," Brady said. "I'm just going to try to do what I always do: Go be a great quarterback. Obviously, I understand the opponent, I know all those guys, they're some of my great friends [and] they will be for the rest of my life. I know a lot of coaches, players, the owners, the staff. It will be great to see everyone after the game, but up until the game I'm focused on trying to go win a football game."

The Bucs and Patriots will play Sunday night at 8:20 p.m. in Foxboro.

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