Even for the greats, the NFL offseason is a grind.
For the first two decades of his career, Tom Brady called New England home. Over that span, he's had just one head coach, Bill Belichick, and three full-time offensive coordinators: Charlie Weis, Bill O'Brien and Josh McDaniels.
Year in and year out, things remained relatively the same in New England. But with Brady leaving behind the only NFL franchise he's known for Tampa Bay this offseason, the quarterback has had to tap into a different mental state this offseason, one he hasn't been in for nearly 20 years.
"It's been different having the opportunity with this time to move and, for example, study my playbook," Brady said Thursday via Zoom in his first media session of training camp. "I mean, I really haven't had to do that in 19 years. You forget, 'Man, that is really tough.' Like all the different terminologies and you're going back a very long time in my career to really put the mental energy in like I did."
For any quarterback, switching teams is a difficult task, even for greats like Brady. However, the move this offseason has been even more difficult due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which effectively eliminated all organized offseason activities across the league.
Training camp has started league-wide, but teams are still a couple of weeks away from real, padded practices. Right now, clubs are mainly doing walkthroughs and installs, working on things that would have already been taught during minicamp and OTAs in a regular offseason.
For Brady, that's also been a difficult adjustment.
"Mentally, that has been the thing that obviously has its challenges and I think you couple that with the coronavirus situation it became even more difficult," Brady said. "I think conversations we probably would have had in April we are having now. I think that part is a bit challenging too."
However, the six-time Super Bowl champion is hoping to embrace the challenges of this pandemic-riddled offseason, rather than to use it as an excuse.
"The only thing you can do is adjust to the situation the best way you can, put as much time and energy in now as we can into it and I think the reality is the clock is ticking on everybody," Brady said. "We're going to have to work as hard as we can and not waste any minutes of any day trying to get used to one another, embrace the challenge and see it as an opportunity to see what we can become."
And while the quarterback is still in the process of learning Bruce Arians' offensive system in Tampa, Brady reminded us in typical Brady-fashion that he's not worried about the challenges that come with it.
"Mentally, I feel like I have all the ability," Brady said. "I've seen every defense. There's no play I haven't run. There's no defense I haven't seen."
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Tom Brady is ready to 'embrace the challenge' of starting over in Tampa Bay originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington