The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ gambit to persuade Tom Brady to leave the only NFL franchise he’d ever known came replete with everything from a sales pitch to a code name. Yes, a code name.
The Bucs called the pursuit of the GOAT: "Operation Shoeless Joe Jackson," per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Tampa brass used the secret verbiage because Brady leaving New England seemed as likely as fabled White Sox hitter, Joe Jackson, sauntering out of a cornfield in Iowa.
Bucs director of player personnel John Spytek — a former teammate of Brady’s for one season at Michigan and an avid Field of Dreams fan — concocted the code name.
"Just having some fun with it,” Spytek told Stroud. "And making sure people don’t know what the hell we’re talking about if they overheard. We wanted to keep it as quiet as possible.”
In the end, the plan to get Brady to Tampa worked. Given the pervasiveness with which it was known the Bucs were one of the few leading candidates to land Brady, it’s debatable how much the code name helped.
What helped more for the Bucs was the operation Tampa built the last few years. A coach who players enjoy playing for in Bruce Arians, and a bounty of offensive weapons in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, etc., that gives Brady his best shot to return to another Super Bowl.
"If we build it, he will come,” Spytek used to tell general manager Jason Licht.
Tampa built it. And Tom Brady came.
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