It'll take a while to get used to, but Tom Brady is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
After two decades with the New England Patriots, the six-time Super Bowl champion turned in his Patriot Way membership card and booked a ticket to Tampa for two years, $50 million. Seeing Brady in a Bucs uniform will be weird, but in a way, it's fitting. Brady, much like his idol growing up, Joe Montana, will finish his career not with the franchise he helped lead to multiple Super Bowl, but looking like a stranger in a different country, the same way Montana did with the Kansas City Chiefs.
But he'll do so because that's the road he chose to walk.
"I was at Joe's last game at Candlestick Park," Brady said Tuesday on his introductory conference call. "I actually went up there and saw it with my friend. I'll never forget that. He was an incredible player. He and Steve Young were my quarterback idols growing up and you know, I just think life -- it continues to change for all of us and having the opportunity for me to continue to play football and lead a team is something for me, you know, I love doing. I've loved playing the sport since I was a kid throwing footballs in the parking lot at Candlestick, and I still love doing that today.
"I train hard. I try to keep my body as physically fit as possible. Mentally, I try to stay sharp, although it's going to be a different challenge this year in learning, but I'm going to do everything to do the best I possibly can, and I'm just excited to embrace this opportunity and see it for what it is. Which is, a lot of guys that are a part of this team, they want to be the best they can be, and they want to achieve the highest goal, and I've been very fortunate to be a part of that and there's no way to do it. You can't talk your way into it. It's a lot of hard work, it's a lot of commitment and it's a lot of people who are just aligned trying to do the right thing.
"Again, I don't know when out first OTA will be. But there will be a lot of guys I'm excited to meet. I'm going to try to get the best out of myself and get the best out of them and it's all going to be dependent on the guys in the building and in the facility to make it happen."
Brady will be 43 when the 2020 NFL season kicks off. While many have been waiting for the day he loses his battle with father time, Brady still has the talent to be a top-tier quarterback when given the proper weapons, which the Bucs have in Pro-Bowl receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Some expected Bill Belichick to treat Brady different than the countless other free agents he had discarded and refused to pay for past performance. That was not the case.
Belichick approached the aging star the same way and was unwilling to give Brady the contract he desired, likely believing paying $50 million for a quarterback who would be 45 at the end of the deal was too much. Perhaps Brady just wanted a change of scenery. Maybe the countless small slights over the past 20 years -- from being hung out to dry for Deflategate to Antonio Brown's release -- had built up, and he was done being another faceless soldier in Belichick's football army.
He'll never admit it, but after 20 years, six titles and countless clutch moments, Brady wanted more. More respect, more adulation and an opportunity to show he was the reason there are six Lombardi Trophies at 1 Patriot Place. So he packed up his Brookline, Mass., mansion, waved goodbye to Gillette Stadium and headed to one of the most irrelevant franchises in the NFL, instantly making them the league's hottest ticket.
The circumstances were different for Montana, but his decision to do things his way is similar to Brady's.
After two injury-riddled seasons, Montana was ready to reassume his role as the 49ers' starter before the 1993 season. But Steve Young had played well in Montana's absence and many believed that was the time to make the transition and continue the dynasty with Young. With a rift growing in the locker room amid the controversy, Montana demanded a trade and was dealt to Kansas City, where he signed a three-year contract.
Montana led the Chiefs to two playoff appearances before retiring at the end of the 1994 season.
Brady, who led the Patriots to six Super Bowl titles and three more appearances, will be looking to once again one-up his idol, the man he supplanted as the GOAT, and go out by winning a title with the team he chose to end his career with.