Miami – Tom Brady's Super Bowl-winning heroics last season came with the 43-year-old quarterback knowing he had a major injury to his left knee that required surgery, the Tampa Bay star revealed Wednesday.
After completing a minicamp with the reigning NFL champion Buccaneers, Brady told reporters he was pleased with his rehabilitation after an operation that had been thought to be only a minor arthroscopic cleanup.
"I feel really good," Brady said. "I worked really hard to try to get back to full speed, to get what I need to do, to begin to improve. It has been a good process of learning and I feel like I'm there now."
Brady completed 401 of 610 passes for 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns during the 2020 season. He then led the Bucs on a playoff run that culminated with a 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl in Tampa. Brady was named MVP of the championship game, earned his seventh title and became the oldest quarterback to win the Super Bowl.
Brady was suffering from a substantial left knee injury during it all and even afterward, when he flipped the championship trophy from one boat to another during the team's victory parade.
"It was an injury I dealt with really since last April, May," Brady said. "I knew I'd have to do something at the end of the year and happy I did it.
"It was probably something that certainly needed to be done and there was a great outcome, so I'm very happy about that. I feel I'll be able to do some different things this year than I was able to do last year."
After six Super Bowl titles in 20 years with the New England Patriots, Brady joined Tampa Bay last March. He began struggling with the injury soon after but did not reveal any details.
"I never like to talk about injuries," Brady said. "I'm just a little bit old school in that way. You deal with them and then you just make the most of them.
"The good part is I'll be able to commit a lot of time to other parts. I'm sure I'll be faced with different adversities this year, but I had to spend a lot of time tending to that particular injury, which happens when you have something that you ultimately need to have surgery on to get fixed.
"So I had my knee surgery, and that was about 15 weeks ago today. Really happy with my rehab process."
Brady said his preparations for the 2021 campaign will be easier with rehab behind him.
"From this point to the beginning of training camp, I really feel like I can really work hard at football improvement as opposed to getting back to a place where you're more baseline," Brady said.
The Bucs retained all 22 Super Bowl starters and will be vying for a repeat, something last accomplished by the Brady-led Patriots in 2003 and 2004.
Brady stressed he and his teammates cannot just assume things will fall into place late in the season as they did in 2020.
"The assumption comes from the belief that it'll just be exactly like it was last year," Brady said. "I think that's what you've got to not fall into.
"The reality is everything's different. The teams will approach you a little bit differently. You're kind of the team everyone's watching now. There's different degrees of expectation. There's more external noise.
"The reality is you've got to stay focused on what's really important. How do you improve? How do you get better from week-to-week, day-to-day?"
A year ago, Brady was defying reality by learning a new system with new teammates and keeping his injury a secret.
"It was a very different situation," he said. "Starting at a place like I'm at now allows me a better grasp of things. We're starting at a good place. We just have to build on it."
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