Tom Brady on Learning a New Playbook for the First Time in 19 Years

Luke Easterling

At 43 years old, it would make sense if Tom Brady's biggest challenges heading into his 21st NFL season would be on the physical side of things, making sure his body can hold up to the rigors of yet another pro football campaign.

But to hear Brady tell it, this offseason has been more of a mental challenge than a physical one, as he prepares to play for a new team for the first time in his legendary career.

“Yeah, I think every football season is a big challenge in one way or another," Brady said Thursday during a video conference call. "Obviously for me, changing teams after a long period of time [has] given me an opportunity to really look at myself and what I want to continue to achieve in my career and think that I can bring to a team. It’s been different having the opportunity over this time to move and to, for example, study my playbook. I mean I really haven’t had to do that in 19 years, so you forget, ‘Man, that’s really tough’ – like all of the different terminologies. You’re going back a very long time in my career to really have to put the mental energy in like I did. I have to work at it pretty hard physically still. I put a lot of time and energy into making sure I’m feeling good in order to perform at my best, but mentally I think that’s been the thing that’s obviously had its challenges."

Brady also acknowledged that this unique offseason, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, has compounded those challenges as he works to learn a new team, new scheme, new coaches and teammates.

I think you couple that with the coronavirus situation and it became even more difficult," Brady said. "I think conversations we probably would’ve had in April, we’re having now. I think that part has been challenging too, but the only thing you can do is adjust to the situation, adapt the best way you can [and] put as much time and energy now as we can into it. I think the reality is, the clock is ticking on everybody. We’re going to have to work as hard as we can and not waste any minutes of any day trying to get used to one another. [We need to] embrace the challenge and see it as an opportunity to see what we can become.”

Brady is surrounded by a strong roster in Tampa Bay, featuring All-Pros and Pro Bowlers on both sides of the ball, including arguably the NFL's best group of aerial weapons. Once he gets a comfortable grip on his new playbook, Bucs fans could be looking at a playoff run for the first time in a long time, and a chance at their first Super Bowl in nearly two decades.

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Comments (1)
No. 1-1

I have full confidence that Tom will have this playbook down by the first snap of the season.