Tom Brady pointed into the Lambeau Field stands after his 31-26 NFC championship win on Jan. 24 and asked security guards: “Can I say hi to my son?”
Then he climbed the fence separating field from bleachers and embraced a masked and gloved 13-year-old.
“Jack was all in,” Brady told Westwood One after the Bucs had clinched a spot in Super Bowl 55 against the Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa, Florida no less. “He watched, sitting out there in the freezing cold, and was so happy. It just made – I mean, you can’t be any better for a dad than that. He’s a special kid.
“I love my family.”
Brady acknowledged the challenges his children sometimes face being the kid of, well, the GOAT.
“Certainly some things maybe at school that get said, good and bad,” Brady said. “There are some different challenges that they face and will have to navigate in their lives. I love being their dad. I try to be the best I can be for them. They don’t certainly get as much time during the year, during the football season as I’d like, but the offseason is coming so I’ll get a chance to spend more time with them.”
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Many Buccaneers and Chiefs spent more time with their families this week than a Super Bowl player typically would. That’s in part because COVID-19 turned weekday activities virtual, the Chiefs not leaving town until Saturday. Also helping: The Buccaneers, as the first NFL team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium, don’t need to travel for the game. Even so, Brady said Gisele, Benny and Vivian were away for 12 days preceding the game, scheduled to return to Tampa on Saturday. Brady maximized the solitude.
“I really had an empty house,” he said. “That’s the most prep I’ve ever had, could really focus on what I need to do from a football standpoint, have time to get my body right.”
Brady cherishes the moments to celebrate wins, and Lombardis, with his family. His face lights up as he says that Vivian – whom he calls “Vivvy” – is “pretty supportive.”
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“I can see why dads like having daughters,” Brady said. “Because she’s pretty special, that one.”
Brady, who still threw for 40 touchdowns and 4,633 yards at age 43, was asked whether his family would ultimately be the reason he steps away from the game that’s dominated his life the last two decades. He responded that he’d leave when he no longer felt he could “commit to the team in the way the team needs me. Then I think it’s probably time to walk away.”
“I don’t know when that time will come,” Brady said. “But I think I’ll know. And I’ll understand I gave everything I could to get to this game, so you know you put a lot into it.”
He got a glimpse of the scene surrounding a retiring quarterback and father following the Buccaneers’ 30-20 divisional win at New Orleans Jan. 17.
Tom Brady celebrates after the Super Bowl 53 win the Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta. (Photo: Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images)
Brady caught up with Saints quarterback Drew Brees on the field before leaving the stadium from what is expected to be Brees’ final career game. Brees’ daughter cartwheeled past dad while his sons tangled for a catch in the end zone from Brady. “We could’ve used you tonight,” Brady told the young Brees who caught it.
Then Brady hugged Drew and wife Brittany goodbye, lifted his duffel bag from the field and high-fived a Brees son on his way out to go chase an NFC championship and a Super Bowl, knowing the man he traded passing records with heads soon to the NBC broadcast booth.
“See you guys, see you kiddos, have fun,” Brady told Brees’ children as he headed to the team bus. “Be nice to your sister.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein
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