TAMPA — In better times, the Bucs would have made Tom Brady’s introduction one to remember.
Like a year ago, when the team officially brought in head coach Bruce Arians, team employees would have likely welcomed him through the door of the Advent Health Training Center. In a traditional news conference setting, the click of cameras would capture general manager Jason Licht posing with Brady sporting a Bucs jersey, making official the biggest free-agent signing in franchise history.
But none of that happened Tuesday. The Bucs facility was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. There was no news conference. Brady’s first official words as a Buc came on a conference call with local and national reporters, but the audio was streamed live.
It’s not necessarily the welcome wagon befitting the greatest quarterback of all time, but of all acquisitions, Brady is the one who needs no introduction. In a time of isolation, Brady has still revived a fan base and excited a locker room. That’s what a resume with six Super Bowl rings in a two-decade career with the New England Patriots will do.
“This is an exciting moment for me in my life," Brady said. “This is something obviously that’s very unique to me, it’s something that hasn’t happened in 20 years. So I’m kind of taking it day by day. The expectation for me is to come in and do what I feel is right for the organization, that’s to be a great team player. I’m going to do everything to get up to speed with all the things I need to do with what my responsibilities are. ... I look forward to meeting all my teammates and do everything I can for us to achieve for what we set out to do.”
Despite his accolades, the theme of Tuesday’s message was Brady doing his part — to earn the trust of his new teammates and to help sail a franchise that’s gone 12 years without a taste of the postseason into uncharted waters.
“The new jersey I’m wearing, I’m prepared to give them every bit of commitment I’ve had my entire career to be the best I can be to help this team be the best it can be,” Brady said. “There’s no one person that makes a team. It’s every single person that’s doing their job every single day that’s committed and determined to be the best. I’m a very disciplined quarterback. I try to follow through on the things I’m committed to and I try to work every day to be the best I can be. And I’m going to push my teammates to do that and I’m just excited to get started.”
And Brady admitted that will be a challenge — he said he has a lot of film studying to get a new offense down and develop a rapport with an entirely new cast of teammates. And all of that is made more difficult in a society now under self-quarantine and with the NFL schedule (offseason organized team activities are scheduled to begin in late April), but he embraces that test.
“There’s a lot of things that go into it,” Brady said. “And as soon as we can get those things going, the greater it will be for everybody, but understanding the circumstances of what we’re dealing with, we’re in a little different approach and we’re going to have to adjust, as is what happens in football and happens in life. And that’s what my plan is.”
Brady, who signed a two-year deal guaranteeing him $50 million, inherits many weapons on offense, including one of the league’s best receiver duos in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, as well as top pass-catching tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. He is embracing working with Arians, whose “No risk it, no biscuit" relies on the quarterback to make plays quickly and downfield.
“I’ve obviously paid attention to his offense for a long time,” Brady said. “Everybody has different styles and philosophies on how they call things. Football to me is throwing the football to the guy who is open. If he is open deep, that is where you throw it and if he’s open short, you throw it there. ... There’s some really talented players on this offense who have really unique skill sets.”
Licht said acquiring Brady was the Bucs’ “No. 1 priority” in the offseason.
“To say that this is an exciting day for the Buccaneers organization and for me personally would be a rather large understatement,” Licht said. “Tom is quite simply the greatest quarterback to play the game of football. Anytime you can add someone of his caliber, you instantly make your organization better. ... We knew he’d be a perfect fit for what we’re trying to do here. He’s a Buccaneer today not for what he’s done in the past, but for what we know he can accomplish in the near future as well."
Said Arians: “We looked at everybody who might be available at the quarterback position, really never dreaming Tom would be available but if he was he’d be our No. 1 choice. ... He can do everything we need to do in our offense. ... Once that became a reality it was full bore ahead to see what we could do to get this done.”
We’ll have more to come from Tuesday’s news conference.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.