Of course, there are a ton of Patriots fans who will miss Brady, a six-time Super Bowl champion who solidified himself as the greatest quarterback in NFL history during his 20 seasons in New England.
But former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, a four-time Super Bowl champion himself, also is struggling to wrap his head around Brady’s departure.
Bradshaw, now an NFL analyst for FOX, wondered in an interview with The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette whether egos were to blame for Brady parting ways with Bill Belichick and the Patriots, especially since the veteran signal-caller turns 43 years old before the 2020 season.
On Tuesday, Bradshaw doubled down during an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up,” again questioning what exactly motivated Brady to take his talents elsewhere after two decades with the franchise that selected him in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.
“First of all, we take our great athletes and we put them on such a pedestal and we fail to realize that they’re human beings, and I for the life of me — if you just look at the human nature of this whole thing — (can’t figure out) why would Tom Brady want to leave New England after 20 years,” Bradshaw said. “My question is, number one, at 43, why do you want to keep playing unless there’s records out there that you’re striving for or you want to put them so high that you feel like nobody will ever get to them? That would be number one. Number two, you cannot tell me you’re wanting to leave New England but everything is OK between you and Bill Belichick. That just doesn’t resonate with me as the right thing. I don’t believe that’s the case at all.
“I think after 20 years, why play? And number two, why move? Why not stay right there? What are you going to prove when you move on? … I don’t understand why Tom has to leave New England. And he planned it. He was out of there. Unless he says, ‘I need a new challenge.’ Well, the new challenge comes when you move on from football and get on with your life.”
Brady made it clear after the Patriots’ loss to the Tennessee Titans in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs last season that he likely wouldn’t retire, so the conversation quickly shifted toward whether he’d re-sign with New England.
He finally ended that discussion last week — on the second day of the NFL’s legal tampering period — when he announced via social media he wasn’t returning to the Patriots. And it wasn’t long before reports surfaced stating he was heading to Tampa Bay to join the Buccaneers.
“The pressure that Belichick probably puts on his football team and the pressure that Brady puts on himself to excel, the two of those finally collided,” Bradshaw said Tuesday. “I happen to believe that working for Bill Belichick would’ve been a great honor, but when you’re through, you’re through, because I think that’s exhausting. That kind of commitment to excellence is exhausting. It’s mentally exhausting. So perhaps Tom wants to get out from under that kind of pressure, and be free and go down to Florida with the weather and show the world how great he is — how great he really is without Belichick.
“I know Belichick can win without Brady. I don’t know that Brady can win without Belichick. So now we have the egos. And I just don’t understand for the life of me why he would leave New England and move to another football team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”
Bradshaw spent his entire 14-year career with the Steelers, so that’s certainly something to consider amid his obvious bewilderment.
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