Tom Brady, self-proclaimed Patriots fan, sounds at peace with his decision to leave for Buccaneers

Sporting News

Tom Brady took a moment to reflect on the late-career path of his idol, Joe Montana, during his introductory news conference with the Buccaneers on Tuesday.

Brady said he attended Montana's final 49ers game at Candlestick Park before Montana exited for Kansas City at age 37. By that point, Montana was the backup to Steve Young and was a mere onlooker for San Francisco's NFC championship game loss to the Cowboys.

Like Montana almost 30 years ago, Brady felt it was time to leave his longtime home. In his case, though, Brady didn't want to stay so long his control of a franchise disappeared.

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“Life continues to change for all of us," Brady said. "Having the opportunity for me to continue to play football and lead a team is something I love doing."

MORE: Why Cam Newton should replace Brady in New England

After Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht and coach Bruce Arians heaped the kind of praise on Brady that was perhaps missing from New England's brass in his final years with the Patriots, calling Brady a franchise-altering acquisition and unquestioned greatest NFL player of all-time, Brady answered questions from reporters with a sense of calm and assuredness he had made the right decision in free agency.

Brady complimented the aggressive, pass-oriented style of his new coach, and he recognized that Tampa Bay's cast of receivers contributed to his move to Florida.

He did not, however, take any direct shots at the Patriots despite reports he was deeply unhappy in his final years in New England.

"I have a great deal of respect," Brady said. "There's nobody that's been a bigger fan of the Patriots than me."

Brady spent 20 seasons in New England. At 42, he'll have to learn an NFL playbook for the first time since entering the league.

He is invigorated by that challenge, and similar to Montana, at peace with writing the final chapter of his career hundreds of miles from the only NFL home he has known.

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