“The Man In The Arena:” The Bucs Chapter

April 27th, 2022

“Holy sh!t!”

Yesterday, BSPN+ launched the long-awaited chapter, Episode 10, of “The Man in the Arena” segment. It is a series produced by Bucs quarterback Tom Brady chronicling his career.

Most segments dealt with seasons where Brady’s teams won a Super Bowl. This episode was the first Joe watched because it dealt with Brady’s first season with the Bucs that ended in the franchise’s second Super Bowl victory.

Some highlights:

* The episode was told through the eyes of only three people: Brady, his father (Tom Brady, Sr.), and foot-rubbing tight end Rob Gronkowski. Just father and son Brady and Gronk. Interestingly, there was no mention or even a clip of the famous Super Bowl boat parade.

* The episode began with Brady searching for a new team after leaving the Belicheats. “In my mind I am thinking, ‘If you are another team and you are not interested in having me as your quarterback, what the f@ck is wrong with you?'” He added that he wanted “to grow and learn in ways that I could never have learned had I never left New England.”

* Gronk said he had not been with Brady for over eight months when the two got together in a Brooklyn park to throw the ball around and run routes. Gronk said he felt great and Brady asked him if he wanted to come out of retirement. Brady had yet to pick a new team at this time. Gronk said he would follow Brady to whatever team he went to. Gronk had no idea it would be the Bucs.

* Brady said he had a list of all the things he was looking for in a team. Talented skill position players, talent level of the team, commitment to winning, the coach, the location and easy access to visit his oldest son who lives in the New York area. Each category was weighted. The Bucs won, of course, largely because of both the vision of the front office, Arians and Brady thought the roster was pretty loaded.

* Later, Gronk said he got a call from Brady who told him he decided to sign with Tampa Bay. Gronk reacted, per Brady,”Whoa! Tampa?”

* Gronk then said playing in Florida was a goal for him but he didn’t know anything about the Bucs or the Tampa Bay region (Odd, considering Gronk previously owned property here and his mom was living in Southwest Florida). Gronk joked that he is like the rest of the general NFL fanbase who (at the time) had to be reminded there was an NFL team in Tampa because the Bucs were so irrelevant for so long. “Oh, right. The Buccaneers.”

* Gronk said when he began studying the Bucs, he started to get stoked and with his mom living two hours away (in the Fort Myers area), Gronk suggested Brady had picked the perfect team.

* In the past, former Bucs Super Bowl-winning coach Bucco Bruce Arians said his biggest concern when Brady came to town was that too many of his new teammates would be starstruck and not get their heads right and put in the work. Gronk said this was actually a thing, and he took it upon himself to tell his new teammates (often) that Brady was just like them, a human who bled red who had to work on his craft just like they did. So they needed to bust their tails and concentrate and not treat Brady like an untouchable deity. Quit staring! Gronk said once the players got to know Brady after a handful of practices, the starstruck trance began to wear off fairly quickly.

“It was no time to get googly-eyed,” Gronk said of the short window to get work done due to no OTAs or spring minicamps.

* After a few practices, both Brady and Gronk realized what a powerful team the Bucs could become. ‘I had never seen that much talent on the offensive side of the ball ever before,” Gronk said. “From Wide Receiver-1 to Wide Receiver-4, from Tight End-1 to Tight End-3, we were solid everywhere,” Gronk said “It was Tampa at the time and they hadn’t been to the playoffs in so long. Expectations were high but they weren’t high, you know what I mean?”

Translation: The Bucs were so conditioned to losing that despite having Brady and Gronk and Playoff Lenny on the roster, many teammates expected something to go wrong at some point.

* Tom Brady’s dad said he only got to one Bucs home game in 2020 and “It was the wrong game.” The Sunday night debacle against the Saints. “I thought, ‘Why in the world did we travel this far just to get our brains beat out?'”

Part of the reason Brady’s dad didn’t go to any other regular season games was a very bad case of The Sickness. He was hospitalized and nearly had to be put on a ventilator. Once a COVID patient is put on a ventilator, it’s a 50/50 shot he or she ever sees the outside of a hospital again.

“We felt like we were the worst team in the league,” Gronk said of that Sunday night loss to the Saints.

Despite it being the lowest moment of the 2020 season for the Bucs, Gronk said he learned with the Belicheats that you have to “keep at it” no matter what until you find a solution. Eventually, the Bucs found one.

* Beating the Saints in the playoffs: “On offense, we performed slightly better than average,” Brady said. “What changed the game was our defense.”

Brady then paraphrased a famous Ric Flair quote, “You’ve gotta go through the best if you want to be the best.” It was clear that Brady had deep respect for Drew Brees.

* Beating the Packers in the NFC Championship: Brady said he can remember the game almost play-by-play, the way the grass felt under his cleats, the way the sunshine bounced off the partially filled metal bleachers. Brady said he won three AFC Championship road games and that winning a championship game on the road to earn a Super Bowl trip is very, very special. But winning an NFC Championship in Lambeau Field was, Brady said, “football heaven. … It was an unbelievably magical day.”

“Tom and I talked [after the win] and we were like, ‘Man! Holy Sh!t man, we are going back to the Super Bowl!” Gronk said.

Brady added, “It was a ‘Holy Sh!t’ moment. … What I learned was you can have different approaches [than the Belicheats] and still accomplish amazing things.”

* Winning the Super Bowl: Brady seemed to think the Chiefs came in a little too cocky. “They beat us earlier in the year and I think they thought it was going to go the same way.”

Gronk on getting into a groove in the Super Bowl “It felt like the old days. We were making plays. In the Super Bowl. The spotlight is on us.”

Brady believes that the Super Bowl win was the best all-around game the Bucs played that season. “We hadn’t had many games where we clicked on all cylinders. But against a great opponent, that was the time to do it.”

Brady also gave the defense major props for its play against the Saints, Packers and Chiefs saying the Bucs defense “sealed the deal.”

Summing up the Super Bowl win and the season, Brady said, “I wanted to prove [to the Bucs] that they made the right choice.”

Right choice? It was the smartest move the Bucs made since they traded for Chucky!

Was this a good episode and is it worth 55 minutes of your time? If you are a Brady fan or a Gronk fan or a Bucs fan, yes.

Is it as good as the NFL Network series “America’s Game” that chronicles each Super Bowl winner? No. And the Bucs’ 2020 edition of that series is a lesser episode because Arians and Brady were not in it.

16 Responses to ““The Man In The Arena:” The Bucs Chapter”

  1. Bird Says:

    Cool. Ive seen a few others but was waiting on the bucs season as were on epsn occasionally

    We were healthy year 1 superbowl
    We were not healthy in year 2 and blew it against rams who won it all
    No reason they cant win year 3 even with tough schedule
    A good draft would help

    Brady playing for up to 19.5 mil (with incentives) this year. Pretty f ing crazy. But yah he is a egomaniac that some fans are done with here 😂 Not even sure that is top 20. 😂. And if he goes somewhere else , he will be 46. Giving us three pretty crazy seasons to remember for years to come

  2. GOB Says:

    After watching all of them, the unbelievable thing is how long and sustained the run in NE was. 6 freaking Superbowls, and 8 consecutive AFC title games. Throw a notoriously cheap owner in the mix, and it makes the task even more impressive. Remember Brady went ten years between Superbowls. That’s a career for most NFL QBs.
    The last episode was pure bucs porn. Enjoy it

  3. HC Grover Says:

    Wow. Great summary.

  4. steele Says:

    I’ll have to catch a replay of this episode, but thanks, JoeB, for the recap.

    That is fresh and revealing material, that should also remind us all to consider a lot of surprising behind-the-scenes activity, that we are not privy to, results in what we get today. Now think about what has happened this offseason, and is happening now.

  5. Bucsfan4ever Says:

    That was amazing. It was on for hours.

  6. Bucsfan4ever Says:

    The Eddleman reception was the most amazing of all
    It’s like the ball was sitting on that guys foot for like half a second and he just grabbed it

  7. steele Says:

    ‘If you are another team and you are not interested in having me as your quarterback, what the f@ck is wrong with you?’”

    I believe that the 49ers were one of the targets of this comment—and still are. There were serious meetings that could have landed Brady in SF, but Shanahan was prickly and they preferred Jimmy G, which ticked off Brady (“that MF??”).

    For those of you still thinking that Brady wants to retire in SF, it ain’t gonna happen unless the Niner organization beg and apologize, and Shanahan is not the coach.

  8. Bruce Blahak Says:

    Good read except for Chucky. Obviously wasn’t that great. Super Bowl yeah, then thoroughly dismantled what Dungy and McKay built.

  9. Rod Munch Says:

    I’ll have to go back and watch it.

    BTW, the best Bucs special ever is on YouTube,

    From the Ground Up: How the 0-26 Buccaneers Built More than Just a Football Team | The Timeline

    Fantastic episode. Also, as Joe state, the America’s Game 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers if great as well, but I’ll give the other special a slight nod, maybe just because it’s so well produced.

  10. Listnfrmafar Says:

    No need to watch it now. Thanks Joe!

  11. westernbuc Says:

    This is why I don’t buy that Brady wanted to go somewhere else. Gronk nailed it. The weapons were unbelievable. There was a movement for weapons for Winston, Brady just ended up benefiting from it. Licht has never hesitated to attempt to fix problems with the roster. That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if we drafted a receiver and tight end. Why would Brady want to leave that situation?

  12. Hodad Says:

    We are lucky Brady came back for one more year.

  13. Jor God tha Binks Says:


    You’re awesome at gathering and providing cliff notes and summaries….you can now add Man in the Arena Notes to Training Camp Notes as one of the best reads on JBF 👏

  14. Joe Says:

    Thank you Mr. Binks. 👍

  15. Buczilla Says:

    Very cool, thanks Joes.

  16. Crickett Baker Says:

    Great summary! I was interested in that Brady was crying and emotional almost the entire time. He talked about his Dad and family with so much emotion that it really surprised me. I was also a bit surprised there was little mention of the coaching and how it compared to NE, but it was a decent episode.