Tom Brady said he went into 2019 thinking it would be his final season with the New England Patriots and delved into his relationship with coach Bill Belichick in an expansive two-hour interview Wednesday on SiriusXM's "The Howard Stern Show."
Brady was asked about the thought that he wouldn't have had success without Belichick, who selected him in the sixth round of the 2000 draft.
"I think it's a pretty s---ty argument actually that people would say that, because again, I can't do his job, and he can't do mine," Brady said on the program. "So the fact you could say, 'Would I be successful without him, the same level of success?' I don't believe I would have been. But I feel the same vice versa, as well.
"To have him allowed me to be the best I can be, so I'm grateful for that. I very much believe that he feels the same way about me, because we've expressed that to each other."
The new Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback told Stern he didn't have any resentment that Belichick didn't make him a Patriot for life.
"No, absolutely not," Brady answered, somewhat emphatically. "No, because this is a part for me, in my life, to experience something very different. There are ways for me to grow and evolve in a different way that I haven't had the opportunity to do -- that aren't right or wrong, but just right for me.
"... I never cared about legacy. I could give a s--- about that. I never once, when I was in high school, said, 'Man, I can't wait for what my football legacy looks like.' That's just not me. That's just not my personality."
He told Stern "it was just time" to move on to another team.
"I don't know what to say other than that," Brady said. "I accomplished everything I could in two decades with an incredible organization, an incredible group of people, and that will never change. No one can ever take that away from me, no one can ever take those experiences or Super Bowl championships away from us."
Brady was asked if Belichick's loyalty influenced his decision.
"I think he has a lot of loyalty. He and I have had a lot of conversations that nobody has ever been privy to, nor should they be, that so many wrong assumptions were made about our relationship or about how he felt about me. I know genuinely how he feels about me," Brady said. "Now I'm not going to respond to every rumor or assumption that's made, other than what his responsibility as coach is to get the best player for the team -- not only in the short term but in the long term as well.
"So what I could control is trying to be the best I could be in both of those situations also. I got into uncharted territory as an athlete because I started to break the mold of what so many other athletes had experienced, so I got to the point where I was an older athlete and he's starting to plan for the future, which is what his responsibility is. I don't fault him for that. That's what he should be doing. Not that I would ever coach, but if I was ever in a position of authority, I would understand that too."
Brady told Stern that he didn't make his "final, final decision" until he told Patriots owner Robert Kraft on March 16, relaying that they shed tears during their in-person meeting at Kraft's home.
"But I would say I probably knew before the start of last season that it was my last year," Brady said. "I knew that our time was coming to an end."