Tom Brady has played in the postseason each of the last 11 years, and the only time he hasn't tasted January football in the past 17 seasons was when he was injured in the season opener in 2008. If those streaks are to continue for Brady, another one is going to have to end.
Brady, of course, had that amazing run of success in New England, where he played from 2000-19. Now he's a Tampa Bay Buccaneer after the most dramatic free agent move in that franchise's history. The Buccaneers are hoping that addition will be one of the main reasons they break their own 12-year playoff drought in 2020.
Lavonte David believes that Brady is the man to make that happen.
"What he brings is just that winning mentality, that attitude, knowing what it takes to get there and knowing what it takes to win it all," said David. "That's what everybody, all the guys in our locker room want. He's the perfect guy for us. I know a lot of guys are going to be leaning on him. I know we've got a lot of guys in our locker room who love to soak up knowledge from older players and gain an advantage. I feel like he's going to bring that edge that we always needed."
Brady is the only six-time Super Bowl champion in NFL history and he's played in 41 postseason contests. He's the winningest starting quarterback of all time in both the regular season and the playoffs, with 219 and 30 victories, respectively. The Buccaneers wanted Brady for his talents on the field, which were still very much evident in his last season in New England, but they also believe he can hasten the culture change that began last season in the team's locker room.
"I've been itching for [the playoffs] for a very long time, the past eight years," said David, who first arrived in Tampa as a second-round draft pick in 2012 and is now the longest-tenured player on the roster. "And then having somebody come in who has that winning pedigree, it's going to be a lot to learn from. He's going to have a lot of knowledge for us, a lot of knowledge for me, just helping me be a better leader, be a better teammate. [He'll] help us find all those little things to help us get over the hump, help us get over the edge."
David, a team captain in each of the last six seasons, is clearly one of the main leaders on the team, but he welcomes Brady immediately stepping into the same kind of role. During his introductory press briefing after he signed with the Buccaneers, Brady said repeatedly that his approach was to do his job to the best of his ability and that he would expect his teammates to do the same. David believes that Brady's presence will indeed bring the best out of the other players on the team.
"I got an opportunity to talk to him," said David. "He reached out to me and we had a good conversation. He reached out to me, speaking on the fact that I was a leader on defense and him coming in asking me what to expect. [It was about] him just coming in and falling in line with everybody else. I just told him, 'Just be you. This is going to be a locker room that you love. There's a lot of young guys who are hungry and a lot of guys who are going to have your back no matter what.' He just told me he appreciates the way I play. I finally get a chance to play with him and it's going to be a fun year."
By many measures, Brady is the most accomplished player in league history. There isn't much left for him to prove, but that hasn't diminished his drive for championships. When asked which of his Super Bowl rings was his favorite, he answered, "The next one." If that next one comes at the end of the 2020 season, then Brady will indeed accomplish one more thing neither he nor anyone else in the league has ever done. Super Bowl LV will be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. No team has ever played in a Super Bowl in its home stadium, let alone won one.
"He just said he was going to come in and be himself, he's going to have fun, he's going to compete," said David of Brady. "He's going to get this thing rolling, try to get some wins in Tampa, and hopefully play in a Super Bowl in Tampa. We talked about that as well. He's a guy who's been there plenty of times and has won six of them. He knows what it takes and I told him there are going to be a lot of guys who are going to have your back and are going to ride with you."
The Buccaneers have a new look in 2020 - take a look at pictures of their new uniforms!