“I still have a lot of great friends there, but they know I want to kick their butt this week,” Brady said at his weekly news conference in advance of Sunday night’s highly anticipated game between the Bucs and Patriots in Foxboro, Mass. “They’ll know exactly how I’m feeling once I’m out there.”
His comments came on the 20th anniversary of his first start for New England, a 44-13 trouncing of Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Brady, then 24 and starting for an injured Drew Bledsoe, was 13-of-23 passing for 168 yards that day.
Brady and coach Bill Belichick went on to make history together, winning six Super Bowl titles and creating a dynasty. Brady said Thursday that when he decided to leave in free agency, he and Belichick didn’t discuss it, and he didn’t get into details.
“All those things are super personal,” Brady said. “We had a great relationship. I think everything was handled the right way. We handled everything as gracefully as we could. It was an amazing time. It was handled perfectly. I think everyone understood where we were at, the people involved in the situation. Things worked out for the best for all of us and we’re all trying to do the best we can do now.”
Brady went on to guide the Bucs to the Super Bowl championship after his first season in a Bucs uniform. The Patriots didn’t make the playoffs.
“The last 18 months have been very fulfilling in a lot of different ways,” Brady said. “I love my football experience here.”
He thanked general manager Jason Licht and coach Bruce Arians for opening their arms to him at his time of transition.
“You go through these experiences, and you don’t know where life is going to lead. I think the only thing I know how to do is give it all I can, every day, moment. The people who really bet on me, I want to do really well for them,” he said. “Jason and Bruce, them coming into my life and saying ‘Hey, we really want you to be here’ has been an amazing thing for me.”
The Bucs enter the game with a 2-1 record; the Patriots are 1-2 behind rookie QB Mac Jones. Brady has connected on 97 of his 141 pass attempts for 1,087 yards and an NFL-leading 10 touchdowns.