For the first time in 20 years, Tom Brady will be wearing a different uniform on Sunday.
The world is so accustomed to Brady wearing his No. 12 T-shirt with the New England Patriots logo, the franchise he targeted at six Super Bowl titles after being selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. But in 2020, one of the strangest years in recent memories, Brady’s decision to leave came as no surprise.
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When Brady’s Week 1 kicks off on Sunday, the future quarterback of the Hall of Fame will be painted in the colors of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in New Orleans against colleagues from the future Hall of Fame Drew Breeze and the Saints.
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Brees, who led the Saints to three consecutive NFC North titles, will have a job for him this year, especially since many believe their championship window is almost closed. The Saints, who finished 13-3 in the finals, were the only winners in the division in the last two seasons.
Recently, New Orleans was on the wrong side of any result in the playoffs. Three years ago, the Saints abandoned the “Hello Maria” to the Vikings in Minnesota and the broad successor, Stephen Diggs, as time went on. The following season, a horrific denial of the NFC title game against the Los Angeles Rams prevented the Saints from reaching the Super Bowl, and last year New Orleans fell back into the hands of the Vikings, led by quarterback Kirk Cousins, who led Minnesota to victory.
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The Buccaneers, on the other hand, finished with a 7-9 record in 2019 behind quarterback Jameis Winston, who threw for a high 5,109 passing yards and 33 touchdowns. However, he managed to throw 30 interceptions in the first league, to go with five lost breaks, which made the decision of head coach Bruce Arians to go after Brady easily.
A year later, Winston left Tampa Bay and signed a contract with the Saints to support the Brees.
Once Brady signed with the Buccaneers, former teammate and star actor Rob Gronkowski did not retire and was traded by the Patriots to Tampa Bay.
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Add Gronkowski to the weapon combination, which includes broad receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, as well as Leonard Fournet, who was signed by the team just last week after the Jacksons of Jacksonville released him.
The Buccaneers have commanded most of the off-season titles in the division, but the Saints will have something to say about it when rivals from the two divisions face off in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.