TAMPA ― One week before playing in his 10th Super Bowl, Tom Brady drove down Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, his dog in the passenger seat, watching flecks of sun dance off Hillsborough Bay.
“How great is that?” Brady told Bucs quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen on Sunday. “I don’t have to move to a hotel. I don’t have to move my family for the game. I’m rolling around just looking at the water.”
Brady, 43, spent 20 years with the Patriots and experienced Super Bowls in New Orleans, Houston (twice), Jacksonville, Arizona (twice), Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Atlanta.
But he feels completely at home as the quarterback of the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium.
On Monday, Brady awoke in the empty mansion on Davis Islands he’s renting from Yankees Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter, traveled 7.1 miles to the AdventHealth Training Center, walked into an abandoned meeting room and sat in front of a camera for Super Bowl media day.
Typically, Brady would be strolling onto a stage, music blaring, lights flashing, in an arena packed with fans and conduct live interviews with scores of reporters pushing their way toward his podium.
But for Super Bowl 55, with news conferences arranged with the virtual separation required during a pandemic, he fielded questions on Zoom from reporters he couldn’t see.
Dressed in a white Bucs hoodie, Brady raised his cell phone and took a picture of his surroundings.
“My family won’t get back in town until Saturday,” he said. “I really had an empty house for what will be 12 days leading up to the game. That’s the most time I’ve had to really focus on what I need to do from a football standpoint.
“I have time to get my body right. There’s been no travel for our team. It’s a home game. That’s very different. We’re staying at our own home. That’s very different. You don’t have to eat hotel food for a week, that’s very different. The stadium will be, I don’t know, 25,000 people. That will be different.”
“I don’t have any perspective on this one,” he continued. “Because it’s the first time we’ve had a chance to do the things that we’re doing.”
Although this experience is new, Super Bowls never get old for Brady.
He’s attempting to win his seventh Lombardi Trophy, which would eclipse the six NBA titles won by Michael Jordan.
“Michael is one of my sports idols,’” Brady said. “For me, it’s about being a part of a lot of great teams. To have the opportunity for me to play in this game, it means a lot to me. ... Obviously, we’re one game away from the ultimate goal in this sport, and I’ve been a part of that ultimate goal six other times. They’re all different. They’ve all meant something a little bit different to me.
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“... It would just be cool to accomplish it this time. I don’t compare them to the other times. Those are all magical moments in my life, and no one can ever take those away from me, and hopefully we can finish this season strong and win a Super Bowl. That’s why we’re here, that’s why we’re playing. It’d make for a really magical season for us.”
For Brady, being home for Super Bowl 55 has provided more time for him to focus on the Chiefs.
Not only does he have more time to prepare mentally, but without the necessary travel, he will receive more treatment on his body from trainer Alex Guerrero.
The Chiefs also are keeping to their routine. They aren’t expected to arrive in Tampa Bay until Saturday, the way they did for their 27-24 win over the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium in November.
“A lot of the non-football stuff I’d say is entirely different,” Brady said. “The football has been, I would say, helpful for me. I love the preparation of it. I think for me, the more I study, the more I watch, the more I understand, the more information I can process, the better it is for me.
“In that aspect, I love having the two weeks that we have, and with six days left it will go really quickly. But I’m going to use it the best I can and try to be as physically prepared, spend as much time with my body coach, Alex Guerrero, as possible. As much time studying film as possible and not waste any energy and be prepared for a long day on Sunday, because it’s a long day of football but we’ve got to give our best.”
Bucs coach Bruce Arians was on the Steelers coaching staff for two Super Bowls, including the last one played at Raymond James, when they beat the Arizona Cardinals in 2009.
“I think last week was normal. This week, we would’ve gotten on the plane,” Arians said. “So, in that regard, I think it’s been great for our guys to be able to come to our facility every single day. Look across the street, knowing they’re going to play. ... I just wish (the stadium) was packed.”
Brady admits it’s been a difficult season, unlike any in his career. A new team, new city, new teammates and played during a pandemic.
But it has ended in a familiar place under unfamiliar circumstances: the Super Bowl. Don’t think it’s his last. Brady was asked if he would play beyond age 45.
“Yeah, defintely,” he said. “I definitely would consider that. I think I’ll know when it’s time. I don’t know when that time will come, but I think I’ll know. I think I’ll understand I gave everything I could to this game. You put a lot into it. I don’t think I could ever go at this game (half-speed). I got to put everything into it.
“When I put it all out there and feel like I can’t do that anymore and I don’t feel like I can commit to the team in the way the team needs me, then I think it’s probably time to walk away.”
Tampa Bay Times Super Bowl 55 coverage
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