Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times that he tested positive Covid-19 in February, shortly after the team’s boat parade to celebrate their Super Bowl LV championship.
Brady, who has since been vaccinated, told the newspaper that he has concerns about how the league will handle the pandemic in the coming season, which kicks off Thursday when the Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys, and believes it could be an even bigger story than in 2020.
“I think it’s going to be challenging this year,” Brady said. “I actually think it’s going to play more of a factor this year than last year, just because of the way what we’re doing now and what the stadium is going to look like and what the travel is going to look like and the people in the building and the fans.
“It’s not like last year, although we’re getting tested like last year. It’s going to be, I definitely think guys are going to be out at different points and we’ve just got to deal with it.”
No team has repeated as NFL champions since the Brady-led New England Patriots hoisted the Lombardi Trophy after the 2003 and ‘04 seasons, yet a compelling argument can be made that no reigning champ since has been more equipped to break the trend than this year’s Bucs.
Brady, who turned 44 in August, is showing no signs of growing old. And with all 22 starters returning, the seven-time Super Bowl winner has a plethora of offensive playmakers at his disposal, as well as one of the league’s top defenses, to help him.
Despite not having training camp, preseason games and a normal offseason to prepare for his first year with Tampa Bay due to the pandemic, Brady threw for 4,633 yards, 40 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions in 2020. He passed for another 1,061 yards and 10 TDs against three interceptions in four playoff wins.
What has also emerged is another side of Brady, who appears to be enjoying himself a lot more than he displayed publicly during a 20-year stint with the Patriots.
Asked if that can be attributed to getting older, a change in environment or desire to connect more with fans, the quarterback said it might be “all of the above.”
“It’s nice that I’ve found my voice more,” Brady said. “I really enjoy being around my teammates, my coaches. It’s been a different environment … playing with this group of guys.”