Ivan Fears, like many New England Patriots players and coaches, is a huge Tom Brady fan. But not this week.
Fears, the Patriots’ longtime running backs coach, on Tuesday shared perhaps the most entertaining quote to come out of Patriots-Tampa Bay Buccaneers week thus far.
“I love Tom Brady,” Fears said in a video conference. “I always have. I spent 20 years with the young guy. I’m very honored to have been a part of the team with him. I still think he’s the greatest.
“But right now, that SOB is the enemy. … I still love him. I think he’s a great person. But I’m not going to be sharing any love when it comes to game time. We’ll share that love afterwards, when it’s all said and done.”
Fears’ Patriots tenure predates even Bill Belichick’s — he’s been on staff since 1999 after also working as a New England assistant in the early ’90s — so he had a front-row seat for Brady’s rise from sixth-round draft pick to six-time (now seven-time) Super Bowl champion.
Brady played 20 seasons with the Patriots before leaving to sign with the Bucs last offseason. He’ll be back at Gillette Stadium this Sunday night to face his former team for the first time.
“I think he’s a hell of a player,” Fears said. “He’s a great person, a hell of a player, hell of a leader. God, he’s got all that stuff going. We miss him. Well, I should say I miss him as a person. … Right now, I’m happy for him, for the success he’s had.
“And I’m looking forward to trying to beat his butt. That’s what counts. That’s all that matters right now. We?re going after each other. Too bad I can’t be out there (laughs).”