D.A.: Six Degrees Of Tom Brady In Tampa

Brady is officially a Buccaneer, but the storylines extend beyond Tampa Bay

Damon Amendolara
March 20, 2020 - 12:42 pm

When one of the greatest athletes ever changes zip codes, it makes headlines for obvious reasons. But unlike some of the future Hall of Famers at the end of their careers looking for one last payday, this has more far-reaching effects. Emmitt Smith sluggishly carrying the ball for the Cardinals or a Seahawks Jerry Rice unable to find separation is not the same. Brady brings with him expectations, an unmatched winning pedigree, and creates plenty of hypotheticals across the league. Here's the ripple effects through Six Degrees of Tom Brady:

First degree: The Bucs have Super Bowl dreams 

The most direct effect is on the field for his new team. The current Bucs are talking Super Bowl. Corner M.J. Stewart told me Brady will change the culture and give them something they've needed to get to the next level. But is that realistic? The Bucs were 7-9 last year, and had the third-worst defense in the NFC. Only the putrid Giants (4-12) and Panthers (5-11) allowed more points. The mental bounce the franchise gets from the greatest winner in modern NFL history is obvious; however, the reality may be nothing more than another pair of non-playoff seasons. 

Second degree: Jameis may have his vindication

The Bucs feel like they've upgraded at QB, and there's no way Brady throws 30 INTs like Winston did. But under Bruce Arians, the former national champ also had his best season. He threw for 5,100 yards and 33 TDs. His yards were the most in the NFL, and his scores were second only behind MVP Lamar Jackson. Brady won't come close to those numbers no matter how talented his weapons are. But if Brady has an underwhelming season and the Bucs don't improve much, there might be revisionist respect for Jameis (on a new team). 

Third degree: The Patriots need to find a new QB

Maybe it's Andy Dalton. Maybe it's Jarrett Stidham. Maybe Bill Belichick has a diabolical alternate plan none of us see coming. But the next solution at QB will be a referendum on The Hoodie. He has won with a lot of other talent under center. In Cleveland with Vinny Testaverde. In New England with Matt Cassel, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jacoby Brissett. But what will 16 games look like this fall without Brady? If the Patriots win the division again, perhaps run deep into the AFC playoffs, Belichick will have proven (for a moment) he didn't need Brady. 

Fourth degree: Montana may have the last laugh

Previous to Brady's ascent up the historical ladder, Joe Montana was considered the greatest quarterback ever. But when Brady tallied his fifth ring with a 25-point comeback over the Falcons in the Super Bowl, many believed he had grabbed that title. Brady would add a sixth championship two years later, and now it is uncouth to suggest anyone but Brady is the GOAT (although you could still make a reasonable argument). When Montana left for Kansas City, it may have been strange to see him with an arrowhead on his helmet, but he also still had some magic. Montana helped lead the Chiefs to the playoffs in both his final seasons. In ’93, Montana guided Kansas City into the AFC Championship Game (where they lost in Buffalo) and a Wild Card loss in Miami in '94. In his final game, Montana threw for 317 yards and two TD passes. Will we see Brady lead the Bucs to a pair of postseasons and an NFC title game?  

Fifth degree: The pressure is on Jimmy G and Tannehill

Brady certainly had interest in joining his favorite team growing up in the Bay Area. The Niners would have given him his best chance at one final ring. But they smartly opted to stay the course with the much younger Garoppolo. Mike Vrabel might be tight with Brady, but the Titans also decided against signing him. Let's see if Jimmy G and Ryan Tannehill look better than Brady this season, because both front offices will be under the spotlight for choosing to stick with their guys. 

Sixth degree: Brady's final memories are an unknown

The way things ended for Rice, Emmitt, Joe Namath on the Rams, Johnny Unitas with the Chargers, Franco Harris on the Seahawks and hosts of other fading icons were ugly. Brady had a perfect chance to retire 14 months ago after winning the Super Bowl, like Peyton Manning did. But he chose to keep going, and with a sterling reputation for brilliance, can he protect that? If Brady has an ugly year, looks clunky in the pocket, throws some really bad passes, will he have sacrificed his aura for one more paycheck? Will a 42 year-old Brady in pewter pants and a cartoon pirate ship on his helmet look comical? He will if the football has left his arm, and that's something many never wished to see. 

Damon Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show,” from 6:00AM-10:00AM, ET, across the country on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. “The D.A. Show” is known for its unique perspective on sports, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, colorful listener interaction, and candid interviews with athletes and coaches. Amendolara also appears regularly on NFL Network as part of the “NFL Top 10” documentary film series, CBS television and SNY TV. He is a Syracuse University grad and native of Warwick, N.Y.