In case the parade afterward wasn’t a strong enough indication, Tom Brady thoroughly enjoyed his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But it wasn’t just winning another Super Bowl that made it special for Brady, it was the change in experiences after 20 years in New England that made this season a memorable one.
In an interview with James Corden on the Late, Late Show, Brady spoke about not having massive outside expectations on this year and the growth of the team throughout the season as things that left a mark for him.
“It was very different because where I was for 20 years was, obviously, it was great for me, it was spectacular, I wouldn’t change anything, and I think that when we’re at that point at the Patriots, everyone at the start of the season would be like ‘well, who are you guys playing in the championship game?’” Brady said. “And it always got to be like, you know, the expectations were so, not unrealistic, it was just like people jumped ahead of all the intense competition which in the end for us you kind of feel like, you know, it’s a lot harder than that. It’s a lot harder than that. And I think going into this year was different for me, because you go to a different place and that wasn’t really the question I was being asked. The question is, you know, ‘can you guys be successful? How are you going to be successful? How are you going to learn your teammates? How are they going to learn you?’
The Patriots missed the playoffs just once in the 18 years that Brady was the team’s primary starting quarterback. The lone exception to that run being the 2002 season after their first Super Bowl triumph. The only other postseason miss came the year Brady missed all but one game to a torn ACL. When you’ve had that kind of success, making the playoffs becomes the bare minimum and anything less than a Super Bowl appearance can feel like failure.
Brady and the Buccaneers didn’t have those kind of expectations en masse entering this year. Sure, they were expected to be good and compete for the chance to get to the Super Bowl, but it wasn’t the outright expectation for the team. The Buccaneers had their growing pains throughout the year, but Brady said he felt like they were still improving all the way through the Super Bowl.
“And man, the last four weeks of the season and then through the postseason, we really just found our rhythm,” Brady said. “We really had the pedal on the metal and everyone worked really hard. … I mean it was just so much fun to see a team come together the way that it did. And the belief as we kept going, it was like it grew and grew and grew and grew and I think by the time we even got to the Super Bowl, all of us still felt like we were still getting better. We were still improving. If the game was a month from now, we would still be getting better and I think that was a great feeling to have going into that game which is I think why we all felt so much confidence that we weren’t going on fumes at that point, we weren’t trying to survive this season, we were really excited about where we at and we really wanted to finish that game the right way and prove to everyone that we were deserving to be the champs and just so happy for our team that we accomplished that.”