Tom Brady decided to leave New England Patriots prior to last season
Last Updated: 09/04/20 8:41am
Tom Brady has revealed he knew prior to last season it was likely to be his last with the New England Patriots.
The 42-year-old quarterback signed a two-year, $50m contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency last month, bringing an end to a glittering 20-year stint with the Patriots.
Brady discussed his exit in detail in an expansive, two-hour interview on Sirius XM's 'The Howard Stern Show' on Wednesday.
Brady told Stern that he didn't make his "final, final decision" until he told Patriots owner Robert Kraft on March 16, and he revealed that both shed tears during their meeting at Kraft's home.
"I would say I probably knew before the start of last season that it was my last year," Brady said. "I knew that our time was coming to an end."
Brady did not go into specific detail about his reasons for wanting a change but admit he wanted "to grow and evolve in a different way that I haven't had the opportunity to do".
Asked if he held any resentment towards Patriots head coach Bill Belichick over his exit from New England, Brady was emphatic.
"No, absolutely not," Brady answered. "No, because this is a part for me, in my life, to experience something very different."
Belichick and Brady have enjoyed unprecedented success together, winning six Super Bowls, since Brady was famously selected by Belichick with the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.
Their bond runs deep, but rumours of an increasingly strained relationship between the pair have persisted in recent years.
As Brady moved into the twilight of his career, it was natural for Belichick to begin to plan for life without him.
Brady accepts this, and says a lack of loyalty from Belichick was not a factor in his decision to leave.
"I think he has a lot of loyalty. He and I have had a lot of conversations that nobody has ever been privy to, nor should they be, that so many wrong assumptions were made about our relationship or about how he felt about me. I know genuinely how he feels about me," Brady said.
"Now I'm not going to respond to every rumour or assumption that's made, other than what his responsibility as coach is to get the best player for the team - not only in the short term but in the long term as well.
"So what I could control is trying to be the best I could be in both of those situations also. I got into uncharted territory as an athlete because I started to break the mould of what so many other athletes had experienced, so I got to the point where I was an older athlete and he's starting to plan for the future, which is what his responsibility is.
"I don't fault him for that. That's what he should be doing. Not that I would ever coach, but if I was ever in a position of authority, I would understand that too."
Brady told Stern "it was just time" to move on to another team.
"I don't know what to say other than that," Brady said. "I accomplished everything I could in two decades with an incredible organization, an incredible group of people, and that will never change.
"No one can ever take that away from me, no one can ever take those experiences or Super Bowl championships away from us."