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Butterflies still visit Tom Brady before first game

The quarterback says the Bucs’ defense and running game performed well against the Cowboys, but he can play better.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) and Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson (6) talk after Sunday's game in Arlington, Texas. Wilson intercepted a Brady pass in Tampa Bay's 19-3 win.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) and Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson (6) talk after Sunday's game in Arlington, Texas. Wilson intercepted a Brady pass in Tampa Bay's 19-3 win. [ RON JENKINS | AP ]
Published Sep. 13|Updated Sep. 13

TAMPA — As he waited for the Bucs’ game against the Cowboys Sunday night, Tom Brady checked out the other NFL games on television, afternoon contests that swung back and forth with missed opportunities and kicks.

Despite entering his 23rd season, the league’s coolest quarterback under pressure said he felt first-game jitters.

“I was so lucky the thing that I was so good at was something I loved to do, which was throw the football around with my friends,” Brady said Monday during his “Let’s Go!” podcast with Jim Gray. “I made a career out of it and, 23 years in, literally I had anxiety and nerves before the first game of the season and you just feel like, ‘Why are there nerves?’ And why is there anxiety?’ You know why? Because you care.”

The Bucs failed to finish drives, settling for four field goals until Brady connected with Mike Evans for the game’s only touchdown in the second half.

Brady said he was disappointed in his own play but raved about the Bucs’ defense, as well as the performance of running back Leonard Fournette, who rushed for 127 yards on 21 carries.

“It felt like my first game — rusty, and everything that comes with the first game,” said Brady, who played only one series in the preseason. “One touchdown pass. There was the ugly interception. I had negative 1-yard rushing, which is always a disappointment for me. I actually benched myself in my fantasy league.”

Brady addressed several recurring topics on the podcast, including his love of football and persistent reports that this is expected to be his last season in the NFL. He agreed with Gray that some in the media know more about his plans than he does.

“That’s often the case lately,” Brady said. “I think for me, I’m just going to take it day by day. One of these days, they’re going to be right.”

His emotions before and after the game

“I’m feeling things more than in the past for some reason. I’m just really feeling intensely my emotions, and I’ve always had that but I think when you get close to the end — and I don’t know exactly where I’m at with that; there’s no decision to be made, but it’s not like I have 10 years left — I definitely don’t have that. All these things, I’m never going to take for granted.”

Waking up sore Monday morning

“When you’re younger, your body is a lot different. And when you’re 45, your body changes a lot. What am I dealing with now? ... There were a few hits, and you look at your arm and you’ve got bruises and you’ve got cuts and the way it is, you go, ‘How much longer do I want to make this commitment?’ I made the commitment for this year‚ and everything is going to be like always — continue to evaluate all these different aspects at play.”

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Things he’s missed by playing 23 seasons

“I’d say the only thing that has changed over time is you have different priorities when you get older. I think when I was 25, it was the simplicity of a 25-year-old life. And when you’re 45, you have a lot of other commitments which are very important to you, which are namely children that are growing up. I haven’t had a Christmas in 23 years. I haven’t had a Thanksgiving in 23 years. I haven’t celebrated birthdays with people I care about born from August to late January. I haven’t been able to be at funerals and I haven’t been able to be at weddings, and I think there comes a point in life where you say, ‘You know what? I’ve had my fill, it’s enough,’ and be able to move into other parts of life.”

Spending more time with young players who approach him after games

“I’m flattered and humbled would be the two words. I remember as a young player I looked up to the guys that I did. To play against Brett Favre. To play against Rod Woodson. To play against Deion Sanders. A lot of guys, when I was at the beginning of my career, they were at the end.”

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