OutKick Exclusive: Tom Brady’s Coach Saw QB Deal With Personal And Professional Problems With Class

Videos by OutKick

Clyde Christensen was offered a chance to return to the Miami Dolphins as their passing game coordinator under new coach Mike McDaniel last spring, but the interview was blocked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

And Christensen accepts that. It ultimately allowed him to remain as Tom Brady’s quarterback coach one more year in Tampa and finish a three-year run in which he and the greatest quarterback of all time came to know and respect each other.

So who better than Christensen to ask about Brady’s retirement the quarterback announced on a 50-second video Wednesday?

“My initial thought is probably a little bit of sadness,” Christensen told OutKick. “It’s like an emptiness. Because, for many of us, the NFL and Tom Brady are kind of synonymous. And the NFL without Tom Brady, I don’t understand what that looks like.

“He’s been around for so long and, gosh, I’m sad to think he’s not going to play football anymore. I think he still can play. No one questions if he can still play. He can play. But I think he’s doing the right thing and I’m excited for him.”

Clyde Christensen oversees Brady at practice.
TAMPA, FLORIDA – JUNE 08: Ryan Griffin #4 (L) and quarterback coach Clyde Christensen (R) look on as Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws a pass during the Buccaneers Mini-Camp at AdventHealth Training Center on June 08, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Tom Brady Wasn’t Going West Because Of His Kids

Christensen is saddened but not surprised Brady is retiring, because he understands the pull the former player’s children have on him.

“I thought it was 50-50 and so I’m not surprised because he really does want to do what’s right by the kids,” Christensen said. “He’s committed to doing what’s right by the kids and I just couldn’t see him going far out west or doing something like that.”

Christensen saw the difficulties of the season Brady balanced compared to previous years. And some of those wouldn’t have been solved next season.

“This year was an unbelievably hard one on him,” Christensen said. “In the middle of training camp he had to take a couple of weeks off and deal with some personal things.

“And then you lose your center. And you lost both guards. You lost [tight end Rob] Gronk [Gronkowski], so you lost your security blanket. There was a lot going on just managing his life and managing his family, and trying to make sure he was doing what was responsibly right there.

“And I think it was a lot. People don’t really realize how hard all that is to balance. And it’s hard to be Tom Brady where no one wants to hear any of it, they just want to see you play well every single Sunday. I have an unbelievable amount of respect for what he did this year and how well he played considering all that was going on.”

Christensen, 67, has coached since 1979 and entered the NFL in 1996. So the coach with all that experience offered Tom Brady, Tampa’s new quarterback, an ear to unburden himself and a shoulder to lean on when the two got together in 2020.

Tom Brady retire
Tom Brady retires. (Getty Images)

Clyde Christensen Never Heard A Complaint

But amid the troubles of last season, Christensen says he never heard Brady whine or grumble.

“Never complaining. He stayed positive,” Christensen said. “I think sometimes he was feeling like, ‘Gosh, what else can go wrong?’ It was all new, there were new things for him and I think it was circumstances he had to deal with that he never had to deal with in the middle of a football season.

“And I think that between football and personal things, all those things and still coming in week in and week out and doing his job, it’s amazing how tough that is … And we never hit full stride like I think we were all hoping to, but no one would question whether he showed up every Sunday, laid it on the line and played some good football.”

About that: Brady didn’t play his best football in 2022. His touchdown mark went from an NFL-leading 43 the previous season to 25 this season.

But Christensen graded Brady every week. He studied his strengths and weaknesses. And the coach has a strong opinion about what kind of season Brady ultimately delivered.

ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 11: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drops back to pass against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Arlington, TX. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

How Did Christensen Grade Brady?

“I think he was elite,” Christensen said. “The first thing I’d say is his numbers were down compared to Tom Brady. Every year he gets compared to the best Tom Brady and those are big, gaudy numbers. If you’re measuring everyone else against the best Tom Brady, I’m sure we’d be saying everyone’s off a little bit.

“So his numbers may have been off here or there, but overall you’re talking about another division championship, a playoff appearance, almost 5,000 yards. And all that after losing a couple of his offensive weapons, losing most of his offensive line, a lot goes into these things. It would be unfair and inaccurate to say he didn’t play really good football. Elite football.”

Christensen, who won Super Bowls with both Brady and Peyton Manning in Indianapolis under coach Tony Dungy, is semi-retired for now. He leaves the game with what he believes is a complete picture of Tom Brady.

“Sometimes you meet someone like him and it’s, you know, one side of the equation isn’t like the other,” Christensen said. “But when you meet Tom Brady, he’s a better man than he is a football player, which is a hard statement to make. It’s hard to comprehend but it’s the truth.

“He cared about his teammates, the father he was, that became clear in the three years I got to work with him. When we started, I knew he was a good football player. I knew that. But the humility and the grace with which he does things is off the charts. We were all privileged to have been part of his career and generation.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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