Tampa Bay Buccaneers players are understandably excited Tom Brady decided to sign with their team in NFL free agency after spending 20 years and winning six Super Bowl titles with the New England Patriots, but one of the veteran quarterback's former teammates has a warning for them.
Ex-Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi knows what it's like to be a teammate of Brady's. They spent eight years together in New England beginning with Brady's arrival as a rookie in 2000 and ending with Bruschi's retirement following the 2008 season.
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The Bucs would be wise to follow his advice on how to succeed with Brady.
"I'll say this right now. If those players see him as that four-letter word, they better get over it," Bruschi recently told ESPN's Jenna Laine. "The four-letter word is a word I will not use to describe him. It's that farm animal, it starts with G. I don't do that. Because that's almost like putting him on a pedestal. It's like, dude, you're still the same guy I intercepted in practice and took 20 bucks from. Come on, now.
"That's my one advice to his teammates right now. He is on a level plane as you, because he's gonna make mistakes, but he's also gonna make you better. And it can't be done without you. Don't look to him to do it. Our teams never did."
It's easy to fall into the trap of treating Brady like he's above the team. After all, he's won a record six Super Bowl titles and considered by lots of people as the best quarterback in league history.
One of the many reasons for the Patriots' historic success with Brady over the last two decades was head coach Bill Belichick treated his star quarterback like any other player. We've heard plenty of stories about Belichick ripping Brady in meetings and critiquing his play. Brady was not going to get a free pass just because of his Hall of Fame résumé. Everybody, from Brady down to the 53rd player on the roster, was going to be held accountable.
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, who's been around a long time and worked with several star quarterbacks, would be wise to establish this kind of culture right from the start of Brady's tenure in Tampa Bay.
Here's Tedy Bruschi's advice for Tom Brady's new Buccaneers teammates originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston