Landing Tom Brady

October 16th, 2021

Details Bucs’ sales pitch to Tom Brady.

We have all heard about the book “It’s Better To Be Feared” by Seth Wickersham that chronicled the rise and dominance of the Belicheats with current Bucs quarterback Tom Brady and his eventual departure from the New England area.

What we haven’t heard much of is the behind-the-scenes drama in the race to sign Brady when he was a free agent, which of course was won by the Bucs.

And yes, the rumors are true: Brady’s first choice was to play for the team he grew up watching, the San Francisco 49ers.

That didn’t happen, of course. So Brady was pretty much up for grabs.

In a book excerpt published by, Wickersham details how the Bucs became front runners for Brady’s services. Wickersham walks readers through the long sales pitch via cell phone that Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht and Bucco Bruce Arians made from Arians’ kitchen.

From the excerpt, it seems Licht was the heavy-hitter salesman who made the personal connection with his former Patriots colleague, Brady, and Arians was the closer.

Two days after Brady’s long talk with [Bob] Kraft, at about 4 p.m. on March 18, he connected with Licht and Arians on a call. The Bucs had prepared a sales pitch, calling it Operation Shoeless Joe. “Build it, and he will come” was the running joke. They had studied Brady’s film and listened to his performances when he had been wired for sound or caught venting on the sideline by cameras to try to find clues about his mindset. Unlike New England, the Bucs had weapons: a long, Randy Moss-like target in Mike Evans, an explosive threat in the emerging Chris Godwin, a lithe speedster in Scott Miller. There was also a rumor that Rob Gronkowski was considering stepping out of retirement to join Brady in Tampa.

Licht paced in Arians’s kitchen as he spoke with Brady. Arians looked on. It was going well, from their perspective. Brady asked Licht if the wideouts were good guys, one ex-Patriot to another.

“No doubt,” Licht said.

Brady seemed sold—and started to pitch himself to them. He had studied the roster, even the defense, and the entire NFC South division. Licht didn’t know Brady well from their New England days, but at least one aspect of him hadn’t changed, despite all of the wins and fame and glory and ego: He was earnestly grateful. …

After about 45 minutes, Licht handed the phone to Arians. The coach stated his view that they had a Super Bowl team. They needed someone to help them believe. You come, Arians told Brady, and we will win the Super Bowl. Arians described his offense and how much he valued collaboration. “I always let my quarterbacks have a say in what we’re doing,” he said. “I’ve always given my quarterbacks leniency, and”—he emphasized, as if to make clear—“you’re Tom Brady.”

Arians was getting fired up, and when he gets fired up, he starts to cuss. Licht watched as his coach dropped f-bombs with startling frequency, even by NFL standards, like lemmings off a cliff, and hoped that Brady wasn’t put off by them. Brady loved it all. Before the two-way pitch call with the Bucs ended after 90 or so minutes, Arians handed the phone back to Licht. The GM had one more issue to raise. “It’s a small thing,” Licht said, “but when you’re here, it could be a big thing.” It had to do with jersey numbers. Chris Godwin was Tampa’s number 12.

“Yeah, I know that,” Brady said. “I don’t care what jersey I’m wearing. I just want to win a Super Bowl. I’m actually thinking about No. 7. Is seven available?”

You can hit the link above for plenty more.

There is lots of chatter in various corners of the interwebs that Brady may be the biggest free agent signing in NFL history. Joe isn’t sure. Reggie White sure put the Packers over the top. But Brady’s signing is sure up there.

Joe does know that Brady lifting this team to a Super Bowl win sure made a whole lot of folks in Tampa a boatload of cash. Probably even made some careers.

37 Responses to “Landing Tom Brady”

  1. Casual Observer Says:

    Brady’s full influence is difficult to quantify. But he brought so much more than his unmatched skills of a QB. His winning/training ways are felt throughout the organization. He even greatly helped some troubled newcomers straighten up their off-the-field lives. Although a cliche, he did “change the culture.” Quite a bit.
    Considering all of this, I don’t think there is any question that he was the greatest free agent signing in history.

  2. SteveK Says:

    Insisted the mindset of a winner. Love that we have the Goat, and kudos to Licht and Arians for not being ageist.

    Sign Brady for as long as he wants to play, he’s earned it, and holy cow can he still play!

    We are blessed.

  3. Destinjohnny Says:

    Without Brady we wouldn’t win 8 games

  4. geno711 Says:

    That SI article was my favorite so far to read on Tom Brady.

    It flowed so well. Thanks for the insight.

  5. Miller5252 Says:

    He was the greatest signing of all time. You go from battling the browns and lions for being the worst team in the last 12 years to a Super Bowl, plus the organization is no longer a joke. Ill go with Brady. Good article Joe, great read.

  6. SteveK Says:

    Brady is so special because he had the awareness to command more from his team via leadership. He also does this while simultaneously getting the most out of himself, and demanding it. His love for the game and competing is unmatched.

    He will continue to seek out extra motivation through the form of doubt, and utilize it to maximize his results, abilities and outcomes.

    The “belief” and confidence that comes from having TB12 makes every single person in the organization better. From Mike Evans to Moke Greenberg, everyone raises their game when the Goat is on board. Go Bucs! Get healthy and keep on keeping on!

  7. Anonymous Says:

    What’s crazy is it still feels like a dream. Go Bucs

  8. Miller5252 Says:

    So does the make Jimmy G the guy Brady was talking about on the shop? It’s gotta be Jimmy G. Plus that makes Lynch the guy turning down Brady for Jimmy G….. I hope Lynch ain’t that dumb.

  9. SteveK Says:

    I think it was Fitzmagic in Miami.

    Brady only had the Bucs and Chargers making active offers. Happy for the Chargers to have Herbert, as they should be rewarded for rightfully pursuing the Goat.

    Also, Miami passed on the Goat, “sticking with that MFer” Fitzmagic/Tua, while Brady probably wanted to go to Miami a #2 bc he’d get to play the same division and go after the Pats.

  10. Steven007 Says:

    Miller, yes, everything points to it being Jimmy G.

  11. Steven007 Says:

    Steve k, the language he used points to Jimmy G. Don’t forget the Patriots fiasco where belichick wanted to elevate Jimmy G and Kraft put an end to it. Make sense then why Brady would use the pejorative. Pretty sure he has no hate for Fitzpatrick or certainly Tua.

  12. Listnfrmafar Says:

    I find it amazing that as far as we know the entire organization bought into the Brady winning attitude so quickly and today belive they are elite and challenge others to knock them off. Brady’s ability to recognize talent shouldn’t be discounted, after all the shining stars so far this season are Brady recruits, AB, Fournett and Gronk. The offense does miss Miller, although a one truck pony, he does stretch the field. Mickens need to go, he scares me every time he touches the ball. Someone need to tell him the difference between North & South vs East & West.

  13. DaBux Says:

    As long as the boys are having fun, we will win. And that’s the difference. Everyone is having fun playing a game, and the coaches are just relishing the opportunity to dissect and destroy whomever is next on our schedule. Yeah, we lost to a damned good Rams team, but we’ll see them again in January.

  14. August 1976 Buc Says:

    From Steve Spurrier to Jameis Winston, not so much to say except maybe Brad Johnson and the first Super Bowl win as far as QB play for the Bucs.

    Bucs QB’s- Doug Williams, Steve Young, Trent Dilfer all have won the Super Bowl but on other teams.

    Sure is different having TB12 playing QB for the Bucs. Nice to finally have a hall of Famer playing QB,playing at a high level even if it only for a few seasons, it sure beats anything else for the history of the Franchise

    The grass is greener on the other side, lol

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  15. Winny Testaverde Says:

    I’ve said and thought all along it was Jimmy G-String and the Niners. It all makes sense. Tua hadn’t even been drafted yet. What a great excerpt from that article…and great Buc lore. The 2nd SB means so much…especially in light of recent events. Now the Niners have TreyLance and fewer 1st round picks to boot. Botched. Lynch saves the Bucs again. 🙂

  16. Bird Says:

    Great stuff joes!

    Dont disagree on Reggie White
    Im going with brady though

    And if he wins another…he is already a legend…but then Build a statute the size of the buc flag at one buc! 😂

  17. Listnfrmafar Says:

    FYI Bucs starting 44 yr old QB plays entire game with bad throwing had thumb and Russel Wilson out for finger on throwing hand. Who do you want on your team????

  18. Jeagan1999 Says:

    I take back everything I’ve ever said about Jason Licht, he and BA knew exactly what they were doing and they nailed it! Now can TB12 andthe Bucs win another title or 2 before the curtain comes down on the greatest QB ever to sling the ball? I feel like we can….if we can get Gronk, LVD back healthy soon!

  19. '79 Defense Says:

    “Joe does know that Brady lifting this team to a Super Bowl win sure made a whole lot of folks in Tampa a boatload of cash.”

    Joes included, I’m sure!

  20. Dking Says:

    Licht is the rockstar GM…MD is a karaoke night at Applebee’s GM

  21. Tackleblockwin Says:

    It is amazing that only two teams really pursued Brady. The entire story is amazing. I said we should try to get him and everyone laughed at me. To me, my team was a loser for so long, I thought, “what would it hurt to pursue him in free agency?” Sometimes dreams become reality. Regardless if we win another SB or not with Brady, the team and organization has already gained so much from Brady’s presence. More than we will ever be able to quantify.

  22. Flyin Dutchman Says:

    Brady outprepared Lynch and Arians pitch! Goatish!

  23. Flyin Dutchman Says:

    Lynch – “We got ME and CG”
    Arians – “No risk it no f’ing biscuit Baby!”
    Brady – Breaks down the playbook, the NFC south, and the entire Conference

  24. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Hey webster…….

    Did you read this FACT?

    And yes, the rumors are true: Brady’s first choice was to play for the team he grew up watching, the San Francisco 49ers.

  25. Joe Says:

    Licht is the rockstar GM…MD is a karaoke night at Applebee’s GM


  26. firethecannons Says:

    Licht was nearly done, washed up, Jameis Winston had ravaged this franchise. Licht had one play left. He searched his pocket and retrieved Arians number, and history unfolded. Arians was never afraid to ask for what he wanted, what he needed. He wanted Brady. Tampa Bay was superbowl bound after that.

  27. Buczilla Says:

    Great story Joe’s!

  28. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    geno711 Says:
    October 16th, 2021 at 8:17 am
    “That SI article was my favorite so far to read on Tom Brady.”

    I just finished reading it, and I really have to agree!

  29. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    firethecannons Says:
    October 16th, 2021 at 12:31 pm
    “Licht was nearly done, washed up…”

    I don’t think this is true. Licht had built a great team…lacking only two things…a good kicker and a great quarterback.

    It was well-known that Licht did not get his choice of QBs when Winston was drafted. Lovie made the choice, and Licht basically had to get behind it.

    And for Lovie’s time here and Dirk’s time here, Licht was limited in power. The Glazers finally gave him the power he should have had all along…and he turned things around.

    As to Winston…he still has a lot of potential…enough that Drew Brees felt comfortable retiring…and Winston is not doing too badly in Orleans. Did he ravage this franchise? Not even close. But…he certainly did not help change the attitude of the players.

    Winston needed a reality check. Period. And he needed to mature…something he seemed incapable of doing in Tampa. Arians did not have forever, so a veteran was called for.

    Still, I hope they find a good QB to groom, because I really do not want this ride to end.

    If Brady can keep this up long enough…like get us 3-4 rings, I would be extremely happy.

  30. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Glorify and Romance it all you want, but the facts remain. Tampa was not his first choice to go to, and only because the San Francisco 49ers did not want him, is he here.
    Of course, I am GLAD Tom Brady is here, like every Buc Fan!
    San Francisco evaluated the Brady situation, and decided they were Good with Jimmy Garrappolo. Imagine That ?

  31. Crickett Baker Says:

    Greatly enjoyed, Joe.

  32. Rod Munch Says:

    So I heard about this guy and this book, and he some amazing behind the scenes information.

    Yet who are his sources? How is he getting this dialogue when Brady’s camp and Bilicheck’s camps are both saying they never talked to guy.

    Also, apparently from what I’ve heard, this guy had a previous book pulled at the last minute because the publisher verify that anything he wrote was legit, that his sources were real.

    Maybe the Bucs camp talked to him, so he’s got legit quotes from Arians and Licht, but based on what I’ve heard about this guy, I don’t buy that he has some amazing insight, and I wonder how much of the book is creative license. I know Belichick dismissed a reporter who asked him about this book, I think about something he was supposed to have said, said he never said then asked who the source was who quoted him for something he said in private — something like that.

  33. DoooshLaRue Says:


    I tend to agree with most of what you wrote.

  34. Ne+ bucs fan Says:

    Brady is my daughter’s godfather,, although he never answered or showed up,,he must have been busy she was born early February

  35. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Funny thing that never gets mentioned. Gronk retires. Mom Gronk lives in Florida. Gronk spends much of his first year of retirement in Florida . Brady ends up in Florida with the Bucs . Just a weird coincidence I guess.

  36. lambchop Says:

    The obvious answer is Jimmy G, but Brady also didn’t want to play far from his son in NY. So, it makes more sense that it was Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. Playing for the 49ers is nice and all because that’s the team he grew up watching, but I’d go with the the Titans with Vrabel who has a talented team. Mike Vrabel knows Tom and that would have been the team that should have stepped up to the plate more than they did. The Chargers with Tyrod Taylor (before Herbert was drafted) is another obvious choice, but again it’s west coast.

    Jimmy G also went to the SB, so I just think that rules him out. I don’t fault John Lynch for sticking with what they thought was their future at QB, at that time.

  37. Dennis A Duquette Says:

    I’ll tell ya what’s funny being a lifelong Pat’s fan and season tix holder to the Pat’s for close to 15 yrs. I move to the Tampa area and followed the Pat’s from down here and occasionally traveling to visit the “Razah” to watch my boys.
    So, whe the Pat’s made the trip down here to play the Bucs, me and my boys were greeted with boos for our jerseys, rightly so, we expected that. But when #12 for the Pat’s came on the field to warm up, the crowd pelted him with chants of “Chea-ter!, Chea-ter!”and me and my boys chuckled.
    Now that Bradys here in Tampa, oh my gawd, he’s the 2nd coming and those chants of “Chea-ter!” now being made by me in jest, his first home game vs Dallas this yr was met with boos and being pelted with a hot dog.
    My, my, how the tables are turned. Brady IS the GOAT and Noone will come close. Those yrs of him wining SB after SB should’ve been and should STILL be marveled at instead of hating on the guy simply because he’s the greatest. Now Tampa, you know what it’s like to witness the greatest ever to play for your organization. There will NEVER be another like himand noone will come close to his records. Though I have season tix with my niece, I’m still a true blue Pat’s fan but will always cheer for TB12’s success….unless they play the Pat’s. Until then, enjoy Bucs fans, you won’t see anything like him after he retires.