TAMPA, Fla — Clyde Christensen is the quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He got his NFL start coaching for the team 25 years ago, before spending more than a decade with the Indianapolis Colts.
He won his first Super Bowl there with Peyton Manning, and just earned his second with the Bucs and Tom Brady.
Christensen says when you compare the two players he sees some similarities.
"They have a lot of the same genes but get to the same results a different way."
In fact, despite an illustrious NFL coaching career, Christensen had never met Brady before he became a Buc.
“Which is unusual, but I tease now that he always has that mean look on his face. I was scared to go up and introduce myself.”
The two sure have made up for lost time this season and with no lack of a sense of humor.
"I tease now, it was my first Super Bowl that I ever rooted for Tom Brady, I promise you,” Christensen said.
About a year ago, Brady’s name was laid before Christensen in typical free agent fashion: in a folder of quarterback's names who were soon-to-be eligible.
Brady came right before Drew Brees, in alphabetical order.
"I just started writing up Tom Brady like you would any other free agent,” Christensen explains. He laughs as he described checking the boxes, “'Is he a leader?' Yeah. 'Can he win in the NFL?' Yeah, I think he can win in the NFL. I almost thought it was one of those, where there's a hidden camera watching you,” jokes the coach.
Christensen says after four-years of tape showcasing Brady’s throws, he had no doubt TB was ready for Tampa Bay, or should we say Tampa Bay was ready for him.
"I saw no drop-off that everybody was kind of talking about. It just wasn't true."
Once signed, Brady got right to work instilling his winning mentality in the Bucs. Christensen explains the excitement was certainly there, but greatness as a team didn’t happen overnight.
“I think the city and the nation probably had the expectation of, you sign Tom Brady, hey, everything's just going to go smooth from the get-go and we started at the bottom and just kind of grinded our way to the top.”
After some tough competition in November and three losses, even Christensen says he had his doubts.
"It was one of those years where we just kind of gradually got better and we're sitting there at 7-5 but I think that it all felt like 'hey, this is really a good team it's just the merging of two families and philosophies and there just isn't a short cut.'”
After a bye week, Christensen says the team got some much-needed rest and practice and never looked back. While the world may have had its doubts, Christensen says Brady, Bruce Arians, and Byron Leftwich never did.
"Those guys from the very beginning, I don't think it ever crossed their minds not to make the playoffs, to get in there, make a run and probably win the Super Bowl.” He says Brady isn’t even built to go there mentally. "His mind won't let him think like that.”
It’s a mindset that continues to pay off, and Tampa Bay is reaping the rewards.
"When he gets in the playoffs, you just look in those eyes and you can see, he's been there before and he's comfortable. He gets focused and you let him go. I stay out of his way and let him go,” explained Christensen.
After a historic home win in Super Bowl LV, Brady was quick to tell fans he’ll be back. Despite constant talk about his age, those who know him best continue to say he’s unstoppable.
"I don't see any end in sight. He didn't miss a practice or a snap in the game this year, which at 43 is remarkable.”
Christensen says it’s just a part of his personality. The morning after the Super Bowl, Brady was already looking to a second Lombardi with the Bucs.
“I've got all the grandkids in bed with me and sure enough he FaceTimes me, 8 o'clock in the morning, just hours after we had gotten in from the game party and the first thing he goes, ‘I think we're going to be really hard to handle next year, I mean we're going to be good next year.’ I go, ‘would you relax for a second!’ And he goes, ‘no, I'm just telling you, I think we could be really, really good.’”
There’s no doubt with free agents up in the air, the front office has some maneuvering to do but Christensen says there’s a game plan.
"We're in great shape cap-wise. I think we'll get some of our key guys done. They've always done a good job with it. There's also a little bit of a Brady factor on that, that people want to play here."