At 44, Bucs QB Tom Brady says ‘I’ve discovered my voice extra.’ Why now?

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TAMPA, Fla. – Not long before he turned 44 on Tuesday, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady took a surrender from the backcourt, sank the ball, and stormed forward. Then he mimicked cowboys running back “feeding” Ezekiel Elliott’s spoon-to-mouth gesture as he jogged back into formation.

It was purely a running installation and Brady wasn’t even practicing, let alone in the correct position, but his enthusiasm was palpable even though it was his 22nd NFL training camp and the crowd of several hundred onlookers noticed it.

“I would probably give him a seven,” joked running back Ronald Jones about Brady’s running back imitation. “How many rings does he have? I would give him seven out of ten. “

Teammates have long been privy to Brady’s oodles of father jokes and friendly trash talk that is infused with humility that often hovers with self-irony. These are in stark contrast to intense outbreaks on the sidelines, like the ones he had two days later when he said “F —!” after failing to take into account that Devin White took cover because of an interception.

You knew the seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback who once crashed his offensive line’s barbecue night and trumped the entire group had a warmer, funnier side. But fans are seeing more of it now.

“I don’t know how you’re going to paint that guy like he’s an alien or something,” joked left tackle Donovan Smith. “He has a sense of humor. He is human. He likes to have fun. I mean who doesn’t?

Brady opened the curtain on his life in his first year in Tampa. He wasn’t afraid of what people might think, how that might affect his image, or if it ruffled a few feathers. Was it about stepping out of Coach Bill Belichick’s buttoned locker room in New England, or is there more to it?

“Tom feels very comfortable in our locker room and with our coaches and our fans,” said Bucs coach Bruce Arians. “I think this personality is showing up more and more. We love to see it.”

Brady stood next to President Joe Biden in the White House, calling himself “Sleepy Tom” and trolling non-pollers with the words, “40% still don’t believe we won the Super Bowl.” He then challenged eleven White House interns to a scrimmage on the south lawn, promising to “get the score up”.

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Tom Brady jokes with President Joe Biden as the Buccaneers celebrate their Super Bowl victory at the White House.

On HBO’s “The Shop” the week before, when he learned that a team he was interested in had decided to go a different direction at the quarterback last spring, he admitted that he quipped, “You’re staying with this motherf — uh ?! “

Then there was the infamous trophy toss and the avocado tequila moment at the Super Bowl parade. He then joked on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” that his 8-year-old daughter Vivi was “the voice of reason” that day.

Tons of memes have also been posted on social media, like one comparing his matchup with Drew Brees to a History Channel special. On the team media outlets, which usually only talked about the opponent this week, he has commented on losing his jet skis in his first tropical storm and he has made hilarious imitations of longtime friend Rob Gronkowski.

Brady wasn’t a Patriots player, his current QB coach, Clyde Christensen, was afraid to speak to him when they were on rival teams to talk to him about the pumped-up crowd at the RCA Dome where Christensen’s former team, the Colts, used for playing.

Acknowledging the metamorphosis, Brady said it was a combination of his new environment, aging and a desire to build a more authentic relationship with fans, whom he now contacts directly through a text messaging service.

“It’s nice that I found my voice more,” said Brady. “I really enjoy being with my teammates, my coaches – it was a different environment. [I’m] I just enjoy the experience of playing soccer, playing with this group of guys. “

Then he felt that he was not reacting in as much detail as the reporters had hoped and said, “You guys caught me on a bad day today. We had a really shitty exercise great on what we did today. It is what it is.”

Gronkowski, who has seen a looser Brady in Tampa since their New England days together, said he appreciated the openness.

“It’s great that he’s showing this side,” said Gronkowski. “It’s great for football, it’s great for the fans. It’s great for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When you play a sport you don’t want to be cramped. You always want to be relaxed and ready to go, and it’s easy. It’s easy.” It’s cool to see that side of him, all of these activities, all of the stupid little comments, the jokes. It keeps everyone relaxed and on their toes. And it’s fun too. “

“Tom is a great guy, a fun guy to be with,” said wide receiver Scotty Miller. “It’s probably a little more difficult for him, he’s with a bunch of 20 year old kids. He’s almost like our father [laughs]. But no, he’s great, fun to hang out with. “

“He’s always been a casual guy to me from the first day I met him,” said White. “He’s like one of us. He’s kidding. He does everything we do. He eats with us in the cafeteria. I still see the same person. I think I see a better person in the field. He’s more comfortable. “

Some would suggest Brady’s public change began long before he left New England for Tampa Bay for the 2020 season, and Rawitz posted everything from cliff jumping on vacation to his old résumé from 2014.

“I was extremely shocked because he’s a very private guy,” said former Patriots team-mate Donté Stallworth. “I think he often wanted to show who Tom Brady really is. He’s a fun guy and a lot of us have known that over the years. “

Then in 2019 Brady joined Twitter, where he unceremoniously put off the best / worst April Fool’s joke of all time in his first tweet and announced his retirement. Stallworth immediately tweeted, “Welcome to Hell!” and Brady replied, “I heard everyone here really support you?”

“It’s definitely loosened up a lot,” said Stallworth. “I just sat back and enjoyed everything. Personally, I’m glad he made it … People can see him for who he is while he’s a player. Because it’s different when you … If you can show your personality to the public during your season, season and off-season, it just matters more. It means a little more. “

Former Patriots teammate Damien Woody, now an ESPN analyst, agreed.

“He’s been under the microscope for so long – and I can understand that he wanted to keep his private life private and everything to football,” said Woody. “But I think Tom has now reached a point where his legacy will be left behind. In my opinion, he’s the greatest quarterback of all time. I will do it. Just do it. And damn everything else. ‘ This is Tom right now.

“He knows the clock is ticking in his career … so why not just enjoy the ride? Why not just enjoy this last part of his career and have fun? .. I really enjoyed the trash talking, the memes, the jokes – that’s him. He really is. “