What Tom Brady saw in the Buccaneers: ‘Chance to be very special’

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers leaned on a mantra from a classic baseball movie in their quest to land Tom Brady.

The Bucs’ front office dubbed their plan “Operation Shoeless Joe Jackson,” ESPN’s Ian O’Connor reported, with player personnel director John Spytek – Brady’s former Michigan teammate – constantly telling GM Jason Licht “if we build it, he will come,” from the Kevin Costner baseball fantasy flick “Field of Dreams.”

Brady apparently saw enough in those Tampa cornfields to go the distance and leave the New England Patriots, signing a fully guaranteed, two-year deal worth $50 million.

Licht doesn’t remember exactly what the three-time NFL MVP said during their first phone conversation on March 18, but the GM told ESPN it was something akin to: “I think we’ve got something. We’ve got a chance to be very special.”

The Bucs’ side of the call took place at head coach Bruce Arians’ house two days after the front office first made contact with the six-time Super Bowl champion’s agent, Don Yee.

“Brady spoke excitedly about the Bucs’ receivers, cited specific defensive playmakers who impressed him, praised the way Todd Bowles’ (defensive) unit played over the second half of the season, and expressed an affinity for the offense Arians has run for all the quarterbacks he has whispered to in the past, from Peyton Manning to Big Ben Roethlisberger to Andrew Luck to Carson Palmer,” O’Connor wrote.

Licht was a scout and front-office executive alongside Bill Belichick with the Patriots when Brady was drafted in the sixth round (199th overall) in the 2000 NFL Draft. He left New England for Philadelphia in 2003 and returned to work for the Pats from 2009-11.

“I’ve only been fortunate to win one Super Bowl, Tom’s first Super Bowl, and there’s no better feeling,” Licht told ESPN. “It doesn’t matter what position you have in the organization. My goal is to win another Super Bowl.”

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