Many NFL fans were surprised to see Tom Brady sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason. You can count Chris Godwin among them.
In a guest column for Peter King's "Football Morning In America," Bucs wide receiver admitted he thought Brady would sign with the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency when reports surfaced that the quarterback planned to leave the New England Patriots.
"I saw on ESPN it was down to Tampa and the Chargers for Tom. And I was like, well, it’s gonna be weird seeing Tom in a Chargers jersey, after seeing him with the Patriots for so long," Godwin wrote. "He’s from California. Maybe he wanted to go home. ... (The Chargers) have Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and they had Hunter Henry. They had some good players. I thought there was no shot he’d come to Tampa."
The Bucs indeed were a dark horse in the Brady sweepstakes, to the point where Godwin didn't believe the GOAT was coming to Tampa until Brady himself sent his new wide receiver an Instagram direct message.
"I saw we’re agreeing to terms with Tom ... Still I didn’t believe it," Godwin said. "I went on Instagram to see if there was any other news on it. I saw a direct message notification. It said it was from 'Tom Brady.' "
According to Godwin, Brady told the 25-year-old wide receiver he was excited to play with him and "won't hold it against you that you're a Penn State guy." (Brady played at Big 10 rival Michigan.) The new Bucs QB even congratulated Godwin on his recent engagement, which impressed the young wideout.
"The greatest player of all time is DM-ing me wishing me good luck with my engagement and saying he’s excited to play with me! That was just shocking to me," Godwin wrote.
Plenty of Brady's former Patriots teammates have similar stories about the QB being down to earth and welcoming them with open arms despite his perception as a fiery competitor. It appears Brady was no different in Tampa Bay, where he made great efforts to get on the same page with new teammates like Godwin.
Those efforts paid off, as Brady led the Bucs to a Super Bowl title at age 43 while Godwin racked up 65 catches, 840 yards and seven touchdowns despite missing four games due to injury.
Brady, Godwin and the majority of Tampa Bay's 2020 squad is back in 2021, so expect their chemistry to grow even stronger as they mount their championship defense.