This day marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Tom Brady era with the New England Patriots. The Patriots were playing the New York Jets in Week 2 with Drew Bledsoe as their starter on Sept. 23, 2001. Trailing 10-3 with 5:11 left in the fourth period, Bledsoe was trying to lead the Patriots’s comeback when he was hit by linebacker Moe Lewis while scrambling for a first down. The hit took Bledsoe out of the game and Brady took over the next possession. After it was discovered that Bledsoe suffered a season-ending injury, Brady formally took over the starting job and never gave it up since then.

The move paid immediate dividends as the Patriots won their first Super Bowl title that year when they stunned the St. Louis Rams. Brady then led the Patriots to five more Super Bowl titles in his 20-year stint with the team before he signed a two-year deal worth $50 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason.

Brady grateful for the chance

During his Thursday’s press conference, the 44-year-old Brady was asked about the big break that he got 20 years ago. “I don’t think anyone thinks you know 20 years ago where their life would be. I don’t think any… I certainly think that in my wildest dreams I couldn’t have imagined what’s happened,” said Brady, per transcription of the interview’s YouTube video.

“I’m just very appreciative and grateful for all the different things that have happened over time,” he stressed, adding “really it’s about the support system of people”, like his teammates over 20 years, coaches, family and friends. “It’s been a great journey,” said Brady, who added another Super Bowl title to his long line of achievements when he led the Buccaneers to their first Lombardi Trophy since 2002 via a 31-9 triumph over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

Brady said he tries to impart his experience to others as a lesson to be prepared always. “You never know when you’re gonna get your opportunity. I try to talk to people about that,” he said, adding that you have to earn your stripes through hard work. “Work at it, work out and be prepared and then when you get that moment, you got to take advantage of it,” Brady added.

Brady will make his much-anticipated return to New England in Week 4 when the Buccaneers take on the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

Bucs now favored over Rams

According to Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, the Buccaneers are now 1.5-point favorite over the Los Angeles Rams in their Week 3 clash at SoFi Stadium. Pricso said he expects the Buccaneers to win a close one at 33-30 with Brady getting off to a fast start with nine touchdown passes in his first two games. This would be the first time in his 22-year NFL career that Brady will play in Los Angeles.