The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' signing of Antonio Brown had Tom Brady in an introspective mood Wednesday.
The 43-year-old quarterback was asked how he navigates relationships with teammates like Brown, who is currently serving an eight-game suspension for multiple violations of the NFL's personal conduct policy.
Brady didn't mention Brown by name but waxed poetic about his early years with the Patriots, when veteran members of New England's early-2000s dynasty were role models for the young quarterback.
"I always try to bring a positive impact into our locker room," Brady told reporters Wednesday. "I had so many guys that I looked up to when I was a [younger] player. When you start in the NFL – I started on a team with a lot of great, veteran leaders and guys that really took me under their wing.
"Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown [and] Drew Bledsoe – just exceptional players and great guys. Then, over the years, when you transition from a younger player to an older player, you really want to see guys succeed and you want to see guys do well."
Brady made that transition quickly, winning three Super Bowls in his first five seasons with the Patriots and becoming the face of the franchise. He's played with a diverse range of characters over two decades in the NFL, from model citizens to cast-offs hoping to find redemption in New England.
Some have found success playing with Brady (Randy Moss) while others haven't (Chad Ochocinco). But the six-time Super Bowl champion has important lessons from all of those professional and personal relationships.
"It’s always about maximizing your potential," Brady added. "I had a lot of people support me over the years – realizing that I was far from where I needed to be and they would guide me and provide me with the help I needed as a player to reach my potential. I think that’s how you impact people.
"I think we talk about that a lot with professional athletes. How you impact people on the field is one thing, but how you impact people off the field is another. Whether that’s teammates that you can impact, people in the community that you can impact – I think all those things are important.
"... I have probably more perspective than just about every player in the league right now based on my experience and what I’ve seen. I want to see other guys succeed. I think a lot of joy in my experience comes from seeing other people be their best and seeing people succeed in ways that can set their family up. I think that’s a really important aspect of football for me."