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It did not take long for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, from top to bottom, to at first notice and then fully understand what Joe Judge already knew about the Tom Brady Effect.
The Giants’ head coach spent eight years with Brady in New England, never directly immersed with the quarterback legend, with Judge’s role directing the special teams and, in 2019, adding wide receivers coach to his job description. There was plenty of interaction, though, and also Judge’s keen observational skills, as far as realizing what Brady’s persona and presence meant to the Patriots.
“He set the tone for an entire organization,’’ Judge said around midseason, as his Giants were preparing to face Brady’s Bucs.
He set the tone for an entire organization. There it is. Take the Buccaneers then, and now, and end the discussion.
Brady wins. Brady, after nine Super Bowl appearances (six victories) with the Patriots, got to No. 10 with a new team. One of his first-time teammates said “addictive’’ when asked about Brady’s aura. Tom BradyGetty Images
“This man has been to a lot of these before, so most definitely coming in we knew we had a shot at all these goals,’’ running back Ronald Jones said. “We were taking it week by week, but we definitely knew with a leader like that, and the guys that we had in place already, that the sky was the limit. And, here we are.’’
Here they are.
Getting here is not enough. Two weeks ago, after the Bucs beat the No. 1-seed Packers in Green Bay in the NFC Championship, emotions were running high inside the visitor’s locker room at historic Lambeau Field. Brady spotted a teammate crying.
“We’re not done yet.’’
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This was witnessed by linebacker Lavonte David, the longest-tenured Buccaneers player, finishing up his ninth year.
“I realized that it was real, like all the other stuff doesn’t really matter unless it’s the Super Bowl,’’ David said on the “All Things Covered’’ podcast. “Damn, he’s right, he’s right. I had a little two tears too, and wiped [them] quick.’’
What might be most remarkable is that Brady, replacing talented but turnover-prone Jameis Winston, was able to galvanize an entire roster despite arriving amid a pandemic. Bucs players marveled how Brady, 43, took charge in Zoom meetings.
All eyes were on the famous newcomer. Byron Leftwich, the 41-year-old offensive coordinator, is a former NFL quarterback with a modest pedigree, in only his second year running an offense. How was this going to work? What could Brady, who had seen it all and done even more, get out of this arrangement?
“What’s been the most amazing thing about this whole thing is his approach to it,’’ Leftwich said.
He wants to be coached hard.’’
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Learning the game the old-school way is akin to pointing out Brady did not have much handed to him, entering the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick. Guys who competed against him for years, or even a decade, developed an impression of what Brady might be. Then they got to be his teammate.
“The biggest thing that makes him special is the ability to kind of have that humble-beginnings mantra,’’ defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “He always has and carries himself in a very humble manner and is relatable to the most well-known guy on the team, which is himself, but then also at the same time a guy that may not be known on the team.’’
Mike Evans, Brady’s top receiver, calls his quarterback “the greatest player to ever play the game’’ and actually admits what Brady accomplished thus far with the Buccaneers might have transpired in other NFL outposts.
“If you add him on any roster, I’m sure the outcome would be somewhat like this,’’ Evans said.
It’s awesome for a team to see how he works and how he operates on a daily basis, it’s very addictive for other guys to begin following a guy who plays and practices that way.’’
That is the full effect of The Brady Effect.