TAMPA — Tom Brady gave a rousing speech at the Bucs’ ring ceremony Thursday night that will be remembered for years to come.
Not only did he thank the Glazer family that owns the Bucs and his coaches, he personally named nearly every player on the team.
He related the first time he spoke with co-owner Joel Glazer and lauded players for setting a new standard for the Bucs organization, which had not reached the postseason and 12 years.
“Joel, I remember when we spoke for the first time and you said, ‘Tom, I just want to win. I just want to win.’ And it takes a lot to do that,” Brady said. “It’s not just a snap your fingers. It takes a lot of work from a lot of people. Everyone that’s in this room tonight, we came through. We set a standard for ourselves. We set a standard for the organization about what winning takes.”
Brady praised co-owner Darcie Glazer-Kassewitz for inviting select players to have input on the design of the ring.
“We talked about it a little bit in the locker room before the (Super Bowl) game. A night like this, what this means for us and obviously what this means to our families for life. You’re going to be able to show this ring for the rest of your life and we’re going to know what went into it. We’re going to know what we learned from it. As (offensive coordinator) Byron (Leftwich) said, the memories, the experiences, the relationships we have from this.”
Brady spoke about leaving the New England Patriots after 20 seasons and six Super Bowl wins. He was a free agent and had an opportunity to sign with a lot of teams but chose Tampa Bay.
“I think about 21 years I’ve played in the NFL. Twenty years going into last year. I was a free agent and I didn’t know what my career was going to be, you know? A lot of you guys were young when I got drafted. I was a sixth-round pick. You know, I was the 199th pick and I never forgot that. I still haven’t forgot that to this day. I have a lot of perspective on where I was at one point in my life.
“Not a lot of teams ever thought I would do a lot for them. Not a lot of teams believed in what I thought I could accomplish for that team. I was at one organization and I learned a lot. When I had an opportunity to choose another place, it’s the first time I had an opportunity to choose. Devin (White), you didn’t get to choose. Lavonte (David) didn’t choose. Mike (Evans), you didn’t choose. You got picked.
“I got a chance to choose. And you know, everybody always says, ‘Why the Bucs, man? Why did you choose the Bucs?’ And it was a no- brainer. It was a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want to play with Mike (Evans) and Chris (Godwin) and Scotty (Miller)? A.B. (Antonio Brown) came.”
Brady went on to name nearly every player.
“I knew what Gronk was all about. Hey, if you are ever in a foxhole, and I hope none us ever are, you want Gronk there with you. ... I didn’t want to play against (Ndamukong) Suh and J.P.P. (Jason Pierre-Paul) any more. I’m so happy I’m on their team. That young secondary that nobody ever thought would do s---. Look what you did!
“In the end, you think, why did you come here? I came here to be with you guys. I chose here because of you guys. I had a choice. ... I could name the whole team. Everybody stepped up when they needed to. We played our best in the biggest moments. 8-0 right after Thanksgiving. That’s when championship teams play like champions.”
Brady referenced his pregame speech at Super Bowl 55.
“We have the team on the front of our jerseys. We have our families on the back of our jerseys. Our families are honored for life.”
Then Brady said something that was unexpected. While the Bucs are trying to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles, he made it clear they have nothing to defend.
“That feeling we have tonight is about joy,” he said. “Everyone who gets up here, it’s an amazing moment, because we get to experience something nobody can take away from us. We don’t have to defend anything. They can’t take this ring away.”
Brady closed by relating his favorite story about an equipment manager at the University of Michigan who had a saying he’s adopted about championship rings.
“We had an equipment manager at Michigan,” he said. “He had a lot of Big Ten championship rings, and he would always say to the freshmen who would come into the freshman locker room — and this was a note to all of us who were about to embark on a totally different journey — he would always come in and he had 30-some-odd championship rings from the Big Ten and he would say, ‘You know what, men?’ And I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of championship teams and this one is one of them. This is a championship team. He said, ‘You know what ring is my favorite one? My favorite ring is the next one! The next one!’ And that’s what it’s all about. Love you guys. Love you. Proud of you. Let’s f---ing go!”
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