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Tom Brady best male athlete, Bucs best team at ESPYS

The Super Bowl 55 champs add more hardware to go with their Lombardi Trophy.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady warms up on the field before taking on the Panthers on Sept. 20, 2020.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady warms up on the field before taking on the Panthers on Sept. 20, 2020. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jul. 11
Updated Jul. 11

TAMPA ― Tom Brady threw “two tuddies” to tight end Rob Gronkowski in the Bucs’ Super Bowl 55 victory over the Chiefs, earning the Most Valuable Player Award for the game.

On Saturday night, Gronkowski was on the receiving end again for Brady, this time accepting an ESPY for the Bucs quarterback as Best Athlete, Men’s Sports during the awards ceremony televised on ABC.

“What a surprise he didn’t show up,’' Gronkowski said.

The Bucs also won the final ESPY of the night, for Best Team, edging six other champions: Los Angeles Dodgers (World Series), Alabama (college football), Oklahoma (women’s softball), Baylor (men’s basketball), Stanford (women’s basketball) and the Seattle Storm (WNBA).

Brady, 43, taped a message in accepting his award in a category that included Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.

“Hey, everyone, I hope you guys are enjoying yourselves in New York. I certainly wish I could be there with you guys and my teammates to celebrate,’' Brady said. “I’m very honored to be chosen Best Athlete in Men’s Sports, and I’ve always said I don’t really play for individual awards or stats. I love football, and I love that it’s a team sport and that our team won the Super Bowl.

“To even be considered for this incredible award along with LeBron, Tiger and M.J. is really cool. There’s so many great nominees. I play a team sport. Lewis Hamilton is a great inspiration, and I know he’s got a great team, too. So congrats to all the women nominees. Briana (Stewart), Amanda (Nunes), Simone (Biles) and Naomi (Osaka). You guys are great competitors and amazing athletes.

“And last I would like to thank my teammates, many of you who are there right now. I hope you guys bring home the Team of the Year award in a few moments. Have fun, but not too much in New York because we start football in two weeks.’'

Representing the Bucs at the event were Gronkowski, receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, running backs Ronald Jones and LeSean McCoy, and linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul. They all took the stage when the Bucs won Best Team.

“Yeah, baby! We’re the champs, baby! Yeah, we’re the champs,’' Gronkowski said. “Big shoutout to my teammates. ... The first day of practice, I was just looking around and saying, ‘Damn!’ We got a (expletive) load of talent, baby. This is the best roster I’ve seen around. Coach B.A. (Bruce Arians) kept saying all year if we played together and keep sticking together, no one is going to beat us. And when we were down, we stuck together and we bounced back, and he was right. We all played together, and nobody could beat us. We kept whipping that ... you know.’’

“We did it, 2020,’' Pierre-Paul said. “Everybody know how COVID was last year. ... We had to take all those damn tests. ... We did it, and we’re going to get another one next year.’'

Actor Anthony Mackie’s monologue during the ceremony included the following: “I want to thank you all. Because of you all, Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl ring. Which means now, it’s official: Tom Brady has more Super Bowl rings than Jason Pierre-Paul has fingers.’'

The ESPYS did a comedy bit on quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his speculative future in Green Bay. In a recorded message, Brady said, “I heard he’s taking Gronk’s spot ... on the party boat, not on our roster.’'

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