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Fan’s view: Tom Brady the Patriot? Smug. Brady the Buc? Hugs

Did leaving New England’s evil empire to take over a downtrodden franchise make the quarterback more palatable to a wider fan base?
It's not that surprising many Bucs fans seemed to readily embrace Tom Brady, especially given the franchise's long playoff drought.
It's not that surprising many Bucs fans seemed to readily embrace Tom Brady, especially given the franchise's long playoff drought. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Jan. 30, 2021
Updated Jan. 30, 2021

Some fans love Tom Brady. Others love to hate him. The Bucs quarterback just might be one of the most polarizing figures in the NFL.

What is it about the six-time Super Bowl champion that sparks such passionate reactions? Fans weighed in:

Matthew Kitchel, 44, Brandon (Bucs season ticket holder since 2000)

“I’m just so enamored with Tom Brady and what he’s done for our city and for our community. He’s a breath of fresh air, he’s a class act, and he’s such a leader for our football team, for our whole city at large. He’s just a really great man, somebody that we can all admire. We can all look up to him because of his dedication and his love for the game. And you know his thirst for winning. And we’re a team in a city that’s been starving for a winner. And it’s just really been a remarkable season. It’s really been awesome. It’s been really inspiring to have this man come in, to get us back in the Super Bowl and to give us some respect.”

Ron Cupler, 71, Clearwater (Bucs season ticket holder since 1979)

“For the most part, if they’re wearing red and pewter, I’m going to cheer for them. Most people get annoyed with Tom Brady because, my God, who doesn’t want to be Tom Brady? You’ve got a gazillion dollars, you’re good-looking and you’re married to a model. That’s pretty tough to beat there. I think most Bucs fans probably admired him. But like a lot of people that win all the time, you think, ‘God, I wish he’d fall on his face,’ because you know how bitter we are. I was tired of seeing the Patriots, I’m over the Patriots. But now that he’s (with the Bucs), and now that he’s married into the family, he’s not so bad anymore.”

Andrew Wilson, 35, St. Petersburg

“It’s a tough spot. As a lifelong Bucs fan, I’m thrilled he helped us get to a Super Bowl. He’s a great talent and one of the best QBs ever. But ... until he puts in the local work like Derrick Brooks or Lee Roy Selmon, (I’m) probably never going to be a Brady fan... just a Bucs fan.”

Tyler Nerland, 28, Tampa

“I love the Bucs and Dolphins. I used to hate Brady and the Patriots for beating up on the Dolphins for nearly 20 years. I thought Brady was smug and irritating. All is forgiven now that Brady has put on the right colors. I now find him to be entirely likable. And he has lived up to my expectations and more. A nice bonus that my Dolphins don’t have to play him anymore.”

Russ Lindell, 35, Brooklyn, N.Y.

“I’m a Tampa native who’s rooting for the Chiefs because I so deeply hate Tom Brady! No image improvement (on his end) just because he plays for the Bucs. Not really. Maybe if the discourse around the Bucs all season long had talked about anything besides Brady, but I’m just so sick of him. And granted, I don’t follow the NFL closely anymore, so if the Lightning signed whoever the hockey equivalent of Brady is, I might be more conflicted.”

Tones Ariola, 25, Naperville, Ill.

“Tom Brady’s the definition of the ultimate competitor in all of sports. You want this guy on your side. The Bucs were very lucky to land TB12 as he ascends his way to the top of Buccaneers history.”

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Juli Hyde, 52, Brandon

“When I first heard the news about Brady I thought it was an April Fool’s joke. I then went through the five stages of grief that Brady was a Buccaneer. Never cared for him or the Patriots. Fast forward to the latter part of the season and I was looking forward to his post-victory (Instagram) stories and actively cheering him. You cannot dismiss the impact he’s had on the team and his desire to win.”

Alex Castillo, 44, Carrollwood Village (Bucs season ticket holder since 2007)

“My wife (Vianny) has always loved Tom Brady. She loves the Bucs and then she had her second team with Tom Brady and the Patriots. So when he came over, little by little, she was like, you know, we do have a whole team here; (it’s) not all about Tom Brady, but basically he changed the culture. He basically brought us a winning mentality. This was the first season in a long time that I actually went in thinking, ‘We can win this game,’ but before it was like, ‘Oh well, the highlight is tailgate, we get to go tailgate.’ … When we finally made the playoffs, I was like, ‘Oh, my god. I can’t believe they made the playoffs.’”

Contact Mari Faiello at Follow @faiello_mari.

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