Every once in a while, in the midst of the darkness and hunkering down waiting for better times, something happens which makes you smile.
And so it happened today.
Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game of pro football signed for two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Two years. Sixty million.
Welcome to Tampa Bay Tommy boy!
I have lived here for 15 years and for the last dozen the Bucs have been also-rans; or worse. I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who know what its like to root for perennial losers.
The Buccaneers were the first post-merger expansion team to win a division championship, a playoff game, and to host and play in a conference championship game; all three accomplishments occurred during the 1979 season. They are also the first team since the merger to complete a winning season when starting 10 or more rookies, which happened in the 2010 season.
In 1976, the year the team was founded, and 1977, the Buccaneers lost their first 26 games. They would not win their first game in franchise history until Week 13, of 14, in 1977. After a brief winning era in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the team suffered through 14 consecutive losing seasons.
Then, for a 10-year period, they were consistent playoff contenders and won Super Bowl XXXVII at the end of the 2002 season, but have not yet returned to the Super Bowl since.
As of the end of 2019 NFL season, the Buccaneers have played 43 seasons and compiled an overall record of 273–433–1 (.387), with a regular-season record of 267–424–1 (.387) and a playoff record of 6–9 (.400). The Buccaneers have the dubious honor of having the worst win-loss percentage of not only the 32 NFL teams, but all four major American sports leagues.
And so the signing of Tom Brady, a six time Super Bowl champion quarterback with New England brought a smile to my face.
My eldest daughter texted me congratulations this morning.
Five years ago we had such high hopes, drafting Jameis Winston who had led Florida State to a national championship. Winston turned out to be a disappointment, flashing occasional brilliance but completely lacking consistency. One never knew which Jameis was going to show up for the game.
Last year, the final year of Winston’s 5 year rookie contract, the team went 7 – 9. Winston threw 30 interceptions. Tommy threw 8, in what was considered a grinding year for him.
Of Tampa’s 9 losses, 5 were by less than a touchdown. In many of those games, Winston gave the ball away more than once, putting the team in a hole out of which it could not climb. Better quarterback play might have taken the team to the playoffs or at least a winning season. So this year the Bucs cut bait and let Winston go.
Tom Brady is now 42 years old, a time when most NFL players are retired. He could have retired on his laurels as the best ever, having led his team to 9 Super Bowls in 20 years, winning six of them. He is a Hall of Famer and needs two hands for his championship rings.
So why come to the Buccaneers, perennial also-rans? And will he flash his greatness or be revealed as a forty plus year old has been?
Well one reason to come toTampa is the money. For years in New England he signed for probably less than he was worth because of league salary caps. No problem here in Tampa -two years, $60 million. No state income tax and a lot nicer weather to play home games. Older men get stiff joints.
Besides, Tampa Bay has his initials – T.B.- to promote the brand.
Seriously though folks, the Buccaneers have offensive weapons Tom has been missing in New England of late. Receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Tight ends O. J. Howard and Cameron Brate. And the Bucs may not be through adding talent this year. On the defensive side, the Buccaneers ranked number one in the league last year in stopping the running game. This team quarterbacked by Brady has the potential of being a winner.
Tom of course is taking a tremendous risk to his reputation. If he can’t make this team a contender the switch has the potential of looking like the worst of the worst image of a legend switching teams at the end of his career. It has the potential of making him a laughing stock, competitors snickering behind his back. Failure will put a stain on his legacy.
This however is a guy with confidence. He knows and respects Coach Arians and he knows he can make this team a winner. He will take the Bucs on his back and carry them to victory if need be and the excitement around here is palpable.
Now I am not a sports fanatic or expert; nor am I a psychologist. But as an old guy who has lead a rich life in many ways, I think Tom Brady wants to do this on his own – without sharing it will Bill Belichick. Tom’s 6 Super Bowl wins have always been cast as wins for the greatest quarterback AND the greatest coach. Tom wants to make Tampa Bay a contender without having to share the result with Belichick just to show the world he can do it.
And if he does it he will have the glory of going for the Super Bowl win – next year in Tampa. What could be a more fitting end to a career? Taking the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay.
The night the rumors started about Brady coming here, 8,000 fans lined up on line to with purchase season tickets. Who wouldn’t want to see Tom Brady quarterbacking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
Now all we need is an NFL season!
P.S. – Tom Brady took this also ran team to the Super Bowl a 31-26 victory over the Green Bay Packers. For the first time in 55 years one of the two teams will be playing on its home field.
Right here in Tampa Bay
The Rays went to the World Series, the Lightning won the Stanley Cup and the Bucs are in the Super Bowl. Too bad none of the fans were in the stands.