Tom Brady called into The Howard Stern Show for a wide-ranging interview that covered everything from his time with the Patriots, his decision to leave for Tampa Bay, and his relationships with his wife, President Trump, and Bill Belichick.
Stern’s brilliance as an interviewer opened up Brady in a way that fans have rarely seen, offering a new perspective on the generation defining quarterback as he sets out to begin a new chapter ahead of the 2020 NFL season.
Below we broke down the biggest stories and revelations from Brady’s time talking to Stern, from his reasons for leaving the Patriots to a few locker room horror stories.
Brady went into detail about his departure from the Patriots, saying that by the start of the 2019 season, he was pretty sure it would be his final season in New England.
Brady spent 20 years with the New England Patriots, winning six Super Bowls and three more AFC championships along the way, but heading into the 2019 season, Brady was confident he was ready for a new chapter.
“I would say I probably knew before the start of last season that it was my last year [with the Patriots],” Brady told Stern. “I knew that our time was coming to an end.”
Brady said he held no resentment towards Patriots head coach Bill Belichick upon his departure. Instead, he embraced how their skills complemented each other to help build a dynasty.
Brady seemed to have a clear-eyed view of his relationship with Belichick and the Patriots.
“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,” Brady said.
“I feel the same, vice versa as well. To have him allowed me to be the best that I could be. So I’m grateful for that. And I very much believe that he feels the same way about me because we’ve expressed that to each other.”
Making the final decision to leave was still difficult for him, though. Brady said that he cried while breaking the news to team owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick.
“Yeah, I was crying,” Brady told Stern. “I’m a very emotional person. … I have a deep caring for the people that I work with.”
“I called up Mr. Kraft, and I went over to his house, and it was a funny time because we’re all dealing with this current corona situation that we’re in,” Brady said. “And I went over and said, ‘Look, I just wanna say how much I love you and appreciate what we’ve done together. I know we’re not going to continue together, but, thank you. Thank you for providing what you have for my family and for my career.’”
Brady also offered some insight into why he chose to go to Tampa Bay over other offers, citing staying close to family, warm weather, and head coach Bruce Arians as key factors.
Brady knew he wanted to leave New England for the coming season, but needed to take his time deciding where he wanted to go.
“I wrote down 20 different things that were important to me,” Brady told Stern. “Then I prioritized what was important, and then I kind of scaled it, and then I looked at all the different opportunities that were out there.”
“There’s a family decision – my son Jack lives in New York, being close to him was important,” Brady said. “And playing with great players was important – I’ve had that with the Patriots forever, but I wanted to continue to play with great players. Coaching was important. It’s the first time that I’ll play in a warm climate, which I thought was pretty great.”
Brady said that the death of Kobe Bryant reinforced his decision to play into his 40s.
Brady has long said that he wanted to play until he was 45 years old and told Stern that the death of Kobe Bryant reaffirmed that belief.
“When I look at his life, we all think we’re going to live forever, but the reality is, we don’t know when our day is going to come. I could sit here and say, stop playing football, so I can worry about what’s going to happen or worry about this or that, instead of saying, why don’t I live my life the way that I want and enjoy it in the ways that are going to be most fulfilling to me. Which, for me, is doing what I love to do.”
Stern also got Brady to open up a bit about his personal life, including how a ‘heartfelt’ letter from his wife forced him to realize he needed to make some changes for the good of his family.
Brady told Stern that a few years ago, his marriage with Gisele Bündchen hit a rough patch due to his intense focus on his career. Bündchen wrote him a letter that made him realize he needed to “check” himself and make some sacrifices for the good of his family.
“Her point was, ‘Of course, this works for you. It all works for you. But it doesn’t work for me,’” Brady said.
“Because you can get caught up in your life where you think a relationship is great because it only works for you. The point of a relationship it has to work for both. You better work on both because if you don’t, ultimately, it’s not sustainable.”
Brady also credited the relationship he developed in college with psychologist Greg Harden for reframing his perspective and putting him in a position to succeed, both at Michigan and when leading the Patriots on their history Super Bowl comeback against the Falcons.
Brady said that Harden helped him at a “very vulnerable time in my life,” as he was adjusting from life in California to life in Michigan. Harden encouraged Brady to focus on what he could control, rather than what was out of his hands.
“It was just a big shift in my mind, from me bitching and complaining all the time that I wasn’t getting what I wanted to stop bitching and complaining and doing something about it,” Brady told Stern.
Brady said that its a mindset that would help him countless times throughout his NFL career, including the Patriots’ epic comeback win against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
Brady took a second to correct the record on one of the most legendary stories of his rookie season that Kraft liked to tell.
Stern brought up a story that Kraft has told in the past of a rookie Tom Brady telling the Patriots owner that drafting him was the “best decision you ever made.”
Brady said that the sentiment was similar, but he chose his words a little more carefully.
“He doesn’t remember as well as I do,” Brady said. “I remember saying, ‘You’ll never regret picking me.’”
Stern and Brady bonded over both of their complicated relationships with President Trump, with Brady drawing a line between supporting someone politically and supporting someone as a friend.
“He wanted me to speak at that convention too,” Brady said after Stern had shared his own invitation. “It was probably very similar to the relationship that you had with him.”
Brady said that he was still fond of Trump personally, but argued that friendship is different from political support.
“He always had a way of connecting with people, and still does,” Brady said of Trump. “And then the whole political aspect came, and I think I got brought into those things because it was so polarizing around the election. It was uncomfortable for me because you can’t undo things, not that I would undo a friendship, but political support is totally different than the support of a friend.”
Stern was even able to entice some locker room stories out of Brady, getting the quarterback to discuss the absurdity of post-game nudity.
“No, you get used to it,” Brady said. “You figure out every guy’s penis looks the exact same, so … A man’s a man.”
Unsurprisingly, Gronk was still Gronk, especially in the locker room.
“Gronk would get naked and literally throw his towel over his shoulder and just walk through the locker room with all the reporters,” Brady said. “I would just laugh. Because Gronk obviously, he didn’t give a s—. He would just strut through.”
Brady also discussed one particularly brutal injury in a story best read for yourself. Viewer discretion advised.
Brady once suffered a groin injury that resulted in an unfortunate swelling in his nether regions.
“My backup quarterback at the time, Matt Cassel, drew pictures of me with this one huge testicle on one side, and he would leave them in my locker every day,” Brady said. “‘Purple balls’ he’d call me.”
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