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Someone made the mistake Tuesday of asking Tom Brady his advice on how to have a long and successful NFL career. And Brady, one of the most unforgiving competitors in the history of the world, pounced.
“I mean, I wrote a book on it,” he said only half-kiddingly. “I really did. It’s a good book, too.”
If you thought Tom Brady, one day from the start of his 22nd NFL season, would be so relaxed as to let a softball question get past him, you’d be wrong.
If you thought Brady has mellowed because he’s down in Florida with all the other old folks, you’d be wrong. If you thought Brady has finally gotten comfortable with his legacy because last season he won another Super Bowl and he’s coasting, again, you’d be wrong.
Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers open their season by hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday. It’s their privilege as the defending Super Bowl champions to lead off the NFL regular season on prime time television.
And Brady is anticipating the game and season like a pitbull eyeing a porterhouse on his master’s plate. Maybe without the drool, but you get the drift.
“I just really want to play at a high level for our team,” Brady said Tuesday. “I think they’re counting on me to play really well, to play the type of football I’m capable of.
“I think just for me it’s going to be about trying to kind of be the great leader and great player I can be on a consistent basis – day in and day out, week in and week out, month in and month out. That’s what I’m trying to be every year. I’m trying to go out there and be the best that I can be.”
He’s been the best for a long time. He’s the only player in NFL history with seven Super Bowl titles and five Super Bowl MVP awards. He’s the league’s all-time leader in TD passes, with 581. By season’s end, he should be the league’s all-time passing yardage leader because he’s only 1,154 yards short of the 80,358 put up by since-retired Drew Brees.
But despite the awards, achievements and accolades, Brady shows no sign of satisfaction. The guy, who takes care of his body so well he eats avocado flavored ice cream, is a glutton for more accomplishments.
So despite the fact he’s leading the pack in so many categories and in so many ways, he believes he’s actually chasing something.
“I think if you look at it in that sense, that’s the goal,” Brady said. “We had a lot of games where we struggled and games where we struggled to move the ball, struggled against certain blitzes, struggled to run the ball, struggled to complete passes, so we can improve in a lot of areas.”
We interrupt Brady’s self flagellation to remind everyone that last season the Buccaneers were second in the NFL in passing yards and third in scoring. And when the postseason rolled around, Brady’s offense scored more points and threw for more yards than everyone else.
But none of that seemingly matters to Tom Brady. It’s as if age has taken a toll on him in only one respect and that is he easily forgets what he and his team accomplished last year.
“I just think it’s a whole other year,” Brady said. “I think what we did, no one can take away from us. In one way, you’re not really defending it much, it’s kind of in the books. They can’t take away what we’ve done.
“But it’s really just a whole other year and experience. We have a chance to go out play the 2021 team the best we possibly can. I think our coaches put us in a great position to be successful. Our personnel department, (general manager) Jason (Licht), has done a great job. We have a lot of continuity. We have a lot of things to build on and a lot more experience together.
“That’s really all you can ask for as players is to be in the position that we’re in. I’d just like us to go out and take advantage of that.”
The only way Brady will consider this season a success is if he equals or tops last year. He’s driven by that. Obsessed by that, it seems.
And he’s excited at the chance to try.
“As good as we played with the same group of guys,” Brady said, “I’d love to see where we can get this year. Again, all of it is earned. There’s nothing given. It’s not about a bunch of hype or a bunch of build up and BS.
“We have to go do it. I think that’s about a bunch of guys that are really mature and see ourselves as professional athletes. We want to go out there and put our best out there.”
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