Tom Brady officially announced he was leaving the New England Patriots on March 17 and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on March 20.
But he had already made up his mind seven months before that.
U.S. & World
That's what the 42-year-old quarterback admitted Wednesday in a candid interview with SiriusXM's Howard Stern, revealing when he knew it was time to leave the Patriots.
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"I don’t think there was a final, final decision until it happened," Brady told Stern. "But I probably knew before the start of last season that it was my last year. I knew that it was just -- our time was coming to an end."
Brady signed a contract extension with New England last August that allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020 for the first time in his career. He also put his family's Brookline, Mass., house on the market around the same time, and apparently those actions weren't just coincidence.
So, what made Brady decide to leave? Was it his relationship with Bill Belichick? Did he feel Belichick didn't appreciate him and want to prove to the world he could win without the Patriots head coach?
"I never cared about legacy. I could give a s— about (that)," Brady said. "So, why would I choose a different place? It’s just time. I don’t know what to say other than that.
"I had accomplished everything I could in two decades with an incredible organization and an incredible group of people. That will never change. No one can ever take that away from me. No one can take those Super Bowl championships or experiences away from us."
Brady also bristled at those who debate whether Brady or Belichick would have had more success without the other.
"I think it’s a pretty s---- argument that people would say that," Brady said. "I can’t do his job and he can’t do mine. So, the fact that you could say, ‘Would I be successful without him?’ The same level of success, I don’t believe I would have been.
"But I feel the same and vice versa, as well. To have him allow me to be the best I can be, I’m grateful for that, and I very much believe he feels the same about me because we’ve expressed that to each other."
Stern pushed Brady on his relationship with Belichick, asking the QB if there wasn't part of him that felt Belichick didn't fully support him when the head coach drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014 and made other plans for the future at quarterback.
"I think he has a lot of loyalty,' Brady said. "He and I have had a lot of conversations that nobody has ever been privy to, and nor should they be. So many wrong assumptions were made about our relationship and how he felt about me. I know genuinely how feels about me.
" … I got into unchartered territory as an athlete because I started to break the mold of what so many other athletes experienced. I was an older athlete, and he started to plan for the future, which is what his responsibility is, and I don’t fault him for that. That’s what he should be doing."
Brady also said he got emotional when informing Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft he was leaving the team in March, and that he cried during their phone conversation.
Brady touched on several other topics in the wide-ranging interview, but if there's a takeaway for Patriots fans, it's that there was no way the GOAT was coming back to New England this offseason.