What Tom Brady could mean for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Thanks to restrictions resulting from the coronavirus outbreak, St. Patrick’s Day was a muted affair. Yet, the luck of the Irish still managed to shine brightly on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their fans—if you can imagine that—throughout the day as it became more and more evident that Tom Brady was going to sign with the Bucs as a free agent after two remarkable decades with the New England Patriots.
While the population was encouraged to exercise safe social distance, there were no such restraints when it came to social media, which reverberated following Brady’s statement on Instagram that stated, “I don’t know what the future holds, but it’s time to open a new stage for my life and my career.”
As it turned out, the “new stage” in Brady’s career will be playing the next two seasons with the Bucs.
“I’m starting a new football journey and thankful for the Buccaneers for giving me an opportunity to do what I love to do,” he posted upon signing the deal.
Buccaneers fans, a long-suffering fraternity that got a reprieve during the Super Bowl-winning season of 2002, could not wait to place a welcome mat outside Raymond James Stadium.
Who could blame fans and pundits for all their giddiness? After all, we are talking about Tom Brady, often called the greatest quarterback of all-time, and owner of as many Super Bowl rings (six) as the Buccaneers have playoff wins.
Brady’s 249 regular-season and playoff victories are not only easily the most in NFL history, but are just 24 less than the Bucs have compiled (including playoffs) in their 44 seasons. Let that sink in for a minute.
No wonder the fervor for Bucs season tickets overwhelmed the team’s website in the first few hours after it became apparent Brady chose to wear red and pewter instead of going to Los Angeles to play for the Chargers. Some fans visiting the site, attempting to purchase tickets, were greeted with messaging that there were more than 6,000 other fans ahead of them.
Still, becoming a Bucs season-ticket holder suddenly became a noteworthy accomplishment.
Imagine sellouts at Raymond James Stadium because of who is playing for the home team, and not because the visiting team attracts so many of its relocated fans. It all seems rather refreshing following a season in which the Buccaneers averaged 51,898 attendance to rank 30th among the league’s 32 teams.
Indeed Brady’s arrival directs some of the national spotlight upon the Tampa Bay area, something that could be reflected in several prime-time games the next two years.
The quarterback, who turns 43 in August, will run an offense that has a pair of elite receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as well as two high-quality tight ends with O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate.
Head coach Bruce Arians also provided ample reason for Brady to consider Tampa Bay. Arians, who will be entering his second season with the Bucs, is called the “quarterback whisperer” for a reason. Brady is not a young potential star looking for a mentor to develop his game. Rather in Arians, a two-time NFL coach of the year, he will have the opportunity to share ideas and schemes with a coach whose credentials include working with likely Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.
Brady, who has appeared in a record nine Super Bowls, also could see the team’s commitment beyond those he will be directing in the huddle. An example would be the two-year, $27-million deal given to retain the services of linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul.
In other words, things are looking pretty good as far as the commitment to win and win now.
Football fans, not just those pulling for the Buccaneers, have a pair NFC South clashes against the New Orleans Saints to circle on the calendar. Matchups between Brady and 41-year-old Drew Brees will make for a statistician’s dream and must-see TV. After all, Brees and Brady are Nos. 1 and 2 in NFL history, respectively, in passing yards and touchdown passes. While he is about 3,000 yards behind Brees, Brady needs just 429 passing yards to reach 75,000.
For the past 30 years Tom Layberger has been a writer, editor and web producer for various media outlets. Layberger, who resides in Tampa, is a graduate of the University of South Florida. Follow him on Twitter @TomLay810