(Reuters) – Tom Brady’s surprising decision to leave the New England Patriots last month for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was rooted in a need to seek out new challenges, the 42-year-old quarterback wrote in an essay on Monday.
Brady spent 20 seasons with the Patriots, winning an NFL record six Super Bowls to become arguably the best to ever play the position.
But despite that success, he said he wanted to “do things that have never been done in my sport”.
“Changes and challenges are part of life,” Brady wrote in a heartfelt, 2,600-word piece in the Players’ Tribune.
“They’re part of athletes’ lives. They’re supposed to happen. They need to happen sometimes.”
The Northern California native reflected on how he thought he may not even get drafted to the NFL in 2000 before being selected in the sixth round by the Patriots.
The change of coast was disorienting to then 22-year-old but he made his presence count and endeared himself to the passionate Patriots fan base that showered him with cheers of “Tomm-eeee! Tomm-eeee!” from the stands in Foxborough.
“Gillette Stadium holds around 70,000 people, and I’ve never not played in a sold-out stadium during my career as a Patriot. How fortunate am I?”
He also praised Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his family, the coaches and the organization, putting to rest rumors that bad blood between the parties is what led to the split.
He said he was motivated to deliver for his new team packed with young talent.
“They’ve welcomed me as one of their own. They want to listen to what I have to say,” he said.
“I’m excited to be embraced fully for what I can bring to the Bucs. In turn I’m ready to embrace fully a team that is confident in what I do — and what I bring — and is willing to go on this ride with me.”
Brady said his body feels great and that he is already in mid-season form.
“Physically, I’m as capable of doing my job as I’ve ever been. Now I want to see what more I can do,” he said.
“I want to see how great I can be.”
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, editing by Pritha Sarkar)