Opinion: Amid uncertainty, Tom Brady’s ability to adapt will serve Buccaneers well

For a man who has deciphered just about every exotic blitz package, conquered some remarkable comeback scenarios and absorbed so many forms of microscopic pressure over the course of 20 NFL seasons, Tom Brady is up against quite the backdrop of change.

No, for all the experience that a grizzled TB12 gained as the triggerman of the New England Patriots, he’s never dealt with this. The free agent move – fleeing Foxborough for balmy Tampa – is one thing. But like the rest of us, dealing with the coronavirus pandemic has created quite the X-factor.

“Everyone is going through life in a different way right now,” Brady said during an introductory media conference call on Tuesday. “There’s still a lot of change happening, and you’ve just got to try to manage it as best as possible.”

That Brady was officially introduced as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback on a conference call that included GM Jason Licht and coach Bruce Arians was a sign of the times. Usually, these are grand openings at team headquarters with lights, cameras and photo ops. But One Buc Place is closed for business these days with team facilities across the league shuttered, like so many businesses complying with CDC recommendations intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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Brady, 42, may have been flashing his GQ smile as he answered questions — especially the one where he reiterated love, respect and gratitude for the Patriots — but that would only be a guess.

One thing for certain: Brady might be the NFL’s biggest celebrity, but he has an everyman sense of how the pandemic has created uncertainty — perhaps even to the point that the regular season will be affected, while the offseason regimen has already been so disrupted — for his business at hand.

“You’ve seen a lot of these other leagues that have been canceled, delayed,” he said. “We as football players, there’s aspects of our offseason that have changed and I’m sure will change to a degree. But that doesn’t stop me from figuring out what I’ve got to do in my professional life to still try to learn the things I need to learn and train the way I need to train, because as far as I know there’s nothing that’s delayed the start of the season at this point. I’ve got to do everything I need to do to be prepared, as I would in an offseason where we weren’t dealing with what we’re dealing with.

“One day at a time is a cliché,” he added, “but it’s definitely not a cliché in the way I’m trying to live my life right now. It’s just been a new reality for all of us.”

Last week, after he struck a two-year contract that worth $50 million, Brady was in New York – now considered the coronavirus epicenter with more than half of the reported cases in the country as of Monday – to complete the physical exam necessary to seal the deal. It was unclear where he spoke from on Tuesday, but he has already bolted from the Big Apple. The man certainly has coast-to-coast options.

In a couple of weeks, though, Brady, with supermodel wife Gisele Bunchden, expects to complete the family’s move to Tampa. Part of that transition will be similar to what many free agents encounter. New surroundings. New traffic patterns. A different climate, certainly.

But Brady is nearly twice the age of some of his new teammates, and he brings along several other differences that are surely built in because of his status and family situation.

“It’s not like I’m 25 and can just pack a suitcase and go,” he said. “I have three kids. It’s just changing a little bit of our life.”

The past couple of years, as his children grew older, Brady skipped the voluntary portion of the organized team activities during the offseason because he wanted to have more family time – although some saw his absence as a sign of a rift with Bill Belichick.

Now there may not be any OTAs to skip. It’s conceivable that Brady, whose “transformative effect” on the Bucs culture, as Licht put it, could prove to be more meaningful than his fit in Arians’ offense, will try to arrange informal workout sessions with teammates to develop chemistry. In lieu of that, he mentioned he’s eager to use technology to help fill gaps as he learns a new offense. With the move and professional demands, the family time will come with a different twist.

“That’s life,” he said. “That’s what people do. That’s what you do when you have other opportunities and other jobs. There’s a lot of coaches that deal with that, a lot of other players that have dealt with that. They deal with that every year. In that sense, I’m no different than what so many other people have gone through. You do the best you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible.

“For me,” Brady added, “what’s most important is trying to make the smooth transition with my family, just so I can get to work on the things I need to focus on.”

In some ways, Brady sounds like anyone else who is changing jobs and moving to a new city.

The Bucs, of course, are banking that he won’t be like everyone else.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.

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