WITH A FOREWORD BY COACH BRUCE ARIANS
The extraordinary behind-the-scenes story of how Coach Bruce Arians, Tom Brady, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came together to deliver one of the most improbable Super Bowl victories in NFL history.
The pursuit was so shrouded in secrecy that it was referred to within the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ organization by codename: Operation Shoeless Joe Jackson. Indeed, the prospect of Tom Brady, six-time Super Bowl champion and widely-acknowledged greatest football player ever, joining the Bucs, a historically hapless franchise that hadn’t made the playoffs in more than a decade, seemed about as likely as Jackson emerging out of an Iowa cornfield in the movie Field of Dreams.
But come Brady did. At age forty-three, pushing the boundaries of football mortality and without Bill Belichick by his side for the first time in his NFL career, this would be the ultimate test for the ultimate football legacy. Brady’s new coach, Bruce Arians, also had much to prove. One of the great offensive minds of his generation, Arians returned to coaching in 2018, at the age of 65, in search of the one achievement that had eluded him throughout his illustrious career: a Super Bowl championship. Together, like so many aged snowbirds, Brady and Arians had decamped to Florida to make the most of their remaining years.
Renowned sports journalist Lars Anderson was granted extraordinary access to the inner workings of the Bucs’ organization. The result is a remarkable work of sports journalism, peppered with wild inside stories and new insights into Brady, Arians, and the Bucs. From the practice facility to the team plane, from the garage where Brady treats his footballs to the huddle on gameday, Anderson captures the rhythms of perhaps the strangest NFL season ever, turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. In his telling, the Bucs’ quest for one glorious season in the sun becomes a riveting sports epic.
Sportswriter Anderson (Chasing the Bear) delivers a spirited account of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' historic Super Bowl winning 2020 season. He opens with the team's dogged and successful pursuit to sign Tom Brady as a free agent, offering him "a new challenge" in his illustrious career to carry a team "that hadn't been to the playoffs in thirteen years" to victory. As Anderson moves through the season itself, his skills as a sportswriter shine, especially in recounting Brady's determination to work with Bucs coach Bruce Arians in the face of unforeseeable obstacles brought by the Covid-19 pandemic to turn the middling team around. Anderson ably paints Brady as a 21st-century example of a player coach recalling how the 43-year-old athlete rarely slept and was always "the first player in the building." Woven in are players' accounts of Brady's outsize impact, including lighthearted moments, such as one former teammate's recollection of a "prank war" in which Brady urinated on his practice jersey. Anderson closes with memorable play-by-plays of the team's defeat of the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV (which rendered Brady the "oldest starting quarterback" to win a Superbowl MVP award), and, fittingly, scenes of Arians and Brady preparing for the next season. Football fanatics will devour this page-turner. Agent: Michael J. Fetchko, ISM.