Tom Brady enjoyed more success with the New England Patriots than anyone could have imaged when they selected him in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.
And it's quite clear that even after leaving the Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency last March, veteran quarterback still has a special place in his heart for New England and his former team.
Brady was asked Thursday in a Zoom call with reporters that if he were a Patriots fan, would he be happy or sad to see the 43-year-old quarterback play in a Super Bowl for another team.
Brady didn't answer the question directly, but he did reflect on the two decades he spent with the Patriots and the experiences he had in the New England area.
“I had an incredible 20 years (in New England). Really, an incredible 20 years. I wouldn’t change anything over the course of 20 years," Brady explained. "That was magical, and all the relationships that I developed, those shaped me into who I am as a person, as a player. My kids were born in Boston. I have great affection for the city, everything that Boston has meant to me and my family, and all of New England, not just Boston.”
“I didn’t even know where New England was when I got picked by New England. That was always a funny story. They called me and said, ‘Oh, you’ve been picked by New England.’ And I was like, ‘That’s amazing, where’s New England?’ And I landed in Providence, which really screwed me up because that’s not even in Massachusetts.
“It was a great 20 years, and at the end of the day, I had an opportunity to become a free agent. I evaluated different opportunities and just tried to make the best possible decision for myself and my family. I chose Tampa, and it’s just been an amazing experience.”
Brady won six Super Bowl titles with the Patriots, which is a record for any one player in league history. He'll try to win his seventh championship when the Buccaneers play Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7.
It's a bit of an awkward position for Patriots fans. Some are elated for Brady and want to see him win. Others are mad that he left and don't want him to win a ring with another team.
Brady seems perfectly content with the decision he made to join the Buccaneers, and it's hard to argue with the results. He's transformed a 7-9 team into one that's a victory away from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
The Patriots will forever be the majority of his legacy, though, and he clearly appreciates all the time and success that came during those 20 years in New England.