FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady's success in leading the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl championship in his first season in Tampa Bay might have been unexpected to some, but not his former coach, Bill Belichick.
"Tom's a great player. Nothing surprises me that he does," Belichick said Monday morning.
Belichick is preparing his Patriots to face the Brady-led Buccaneers on Sunday in one of the NFL's most anticipated games of the season (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC).
The matchup has also sparked questions about why Brady isn't still playing for the Patriots after spending the first 20 years of his career with them, which Belichick fielded in his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI on Monday, and then from reporters in a video conference.
"I think we've been through all the dynamics of that. There were a lot of things there," Belichick said on WEEI. "He looked at his options and made his decision. We weren't as good an option as Tampa. You'd have to ask him about that, but it wasn't a question about not wanting him, that's for sure."
At the same time, Brady and owner Robert Kraft had both publicly expressed their desire that Brady finish his career with the Patriots.
Asked why the Patriots weren't considered a better option for Brady, Belichick said: "I'm not going to go back and rehash all that. We've talked about that. Really my focus is on the game here.
"Look, I have so much respect and appreciation for Tom and everything he did here, and for me and for our team. We're just getting ready to compete against Tampa this week and we're going to keep our focus on that."
In his radio interview, Belichick also said: "Tom and I had, I feel like a good relationship and a lot of production obviously while we were together. I enjoyed coaching Tom and he was a great player for us."