Tom Brady’s fate for 2020 may not be the most important move this offseason, but it got the most attention. The QB spent two successful decades with the Patriots. Now, he’ll get properly compensated for his services. To the delight of Tampa Bay fans, Brady joined the Buccaneers. But there was one problem: Wide receiver Chris Godwin already had Brady’s No. 12 jersey. Here’s how the two worked it out.
Chris Godwin’s established greatness wearing No. 12
Godwin first made his mark on the national stage during his sophomore year at Penn State. He totaled 1,101 yards and notched five touchdowns reports Sports-Reference, for a breakout season. From there, he turned in a college career that earned him a third-round pick from the Bucs.
In Tampa, he trended up year-over-year. By 2019, Godwin and fellow receiver Mike Evans emerged as two of the more difficult receivers to shut down. Even as quarterback Jameis Winston gave up interceptions, Godwin regularly turned near-misses into solid completions.
Godwin wrapped his 2019 with 86 receptions for 1,333 yards and totaled nine touchdowns — leading the team in that metric. That’s in spite of missing out from Week 15 on due to a hamstring injury. With Winston’s inconsistencies leaving the offense in the lurch, Godwin became the key player who gave Bucs fans hope for the future.
How Godwin reacted to fellow No. 12 Tom Brady coming to Tampa Bay
When Brady and the Bucs revealed that the legendary QB would land in Tampa Bay, fantasy became reality. Godwin and Evans will go from making Winston look good to taking passes from one of the best QBs ever. Godwin will without a doubt work closely with Brady. But could the No. 12 jersey set off bad blood from the start?
In an interview posted to the Buccanneers’ Twitter account, Godwin shared that his friends and family blew up his phone asking about how the no. 12 situation would shake out. “[I got] Twitter, Instagram, phone calls, text messages of people just asking me that same question,” the wide receiver said.
“We talked briefly, but [Brady] hadn’t mentioned that at all,” Godwin continued. “Obviously, if he doesn’t want it or isn’t making a big deal about it, I’m definitely going to keep it. But we’ll see how that goes.” Clearly, Godwin was somewhat tentative about giving up his number. But the very next thing he said was far more prescient for how things would pan out.
What Brady paid Godwin to wear No. 12
Godwin paused for a moment, then elaborated on his position in the Bucs interview. “I think just out of respect for what [Brady has] done, what he’s accomplished and just kind of the for the career he’s built for himself. You’ve got to kind of lean into that respect, you know?”
Godwin obviously understood Brady is bigger than just another starting QB joining a team. It’s this final statement that colored the move he made next. He switched to No. 14 and gave Brady No. 12 — for free.
This is no small gesture. Godwin wore 12 throughout his high school days and Penn State breakout. He and his fiancée use the number in their social media profiles. But Brady is, well, Brady. Playing with him is the chance of a lifetime. Godwin didn’t skip a beat in setting the right tone for his future relationship with the future Hall of Famer.