There are times in our lives that we will never forget where we were when we heard the news. Lately, at least in my life, that has become an unfortunate regularity. When I awoke today to the sound of my phone updates, my first thought was- Tom Brady made a decision. Slowly making my way to the phone because knowing you’re about to read something that is going to have a profound effect is always a scary thing, but I finally hit that Twitter app, and there it was- “Brady Leaves The Patriots.”
It wasn’t even Schefter, it was a random account that I follow that was freaking out. I walked into it. Literally. Seconds after Brady broke the hearts of New England fans with his post, I was wading through the chaos of social media, punchdrunk from what I just read, trying to wrap my head around the fact that I no longer get to watch the greatest quarterback in history lead the team I’ve loved for 40 years and covered for eight. I was and still am trying to wrap my head around this new reality:
Tom Brady is no longer a New England Patriot.
It didn’t have to come to this. Brady and the Patriots divorce is more about disagreement and pettiness than it is about player effectiveness, and don’t let anybody tell you anything different. The day Bill Belichick drafted Jimmy Garoppolo was the day his relationship with Brady changed forever. Belichick sent a message that EVERYONE has a shelf life in the NFL. What Belichick didn’t expect was a then 37-year old Brady to react by bringing New England to four Super Bowls in five years from 2014 to 2018, forcing him to trade the talented Garoppolo because they couldn’t pay them both. Now, here we are just two years later and BOTH quarterbacks are gone. This was NOT what Belichick wanted, but it is clear he knew it was going to happen when his hand was forced on Jimmy G.
The Jimmy G saga was one thing; Deflategate was another. Belichick didn’t support Brady and basically put it on Tom’s lap, and we all saw how that went down. Brady clearly redeemed himself after that fiasco, but that was just another log on the fire in the Brady/Belichick building inferno. This was going to come to a head, and that happened in 2019.
As crazy as it is to say, if the Antonio Brown pickup worked out, there is a great chance Brady is still a Patriot. He desperately wanted weapons on offense to work with, and even though he wanted out, he was still willing to stay if they put the right team around him. Brown couldn’t stay on the field, and after his comments about Bob Kraft, there was no way he was returning. Add not being able to land a top wide receiver like DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs, and that was a wrap for Tom.
You will read and hear some media members say that one guy couldn’t have made a difference, but they’re dead wrong. If New England added to the offense, Brady would have stuck around. Belichick was not going to appease Brady, so this is where we are now. Brady is in Tampa, and Belichick has a treasure chest of draft picks this and next year, and not to mention a ton of cap space in ’21. There are still a ton of questions about what this team is going to do, and they are now in the unenviable position NFL teams NEVER want to be in- QB limbo.
Here is something to think about as a Patriots fan- this is the first time in 27 years that the Patriots don’t know who will be under center heading into their upcoming season. From Bledsoe to Brady, the Patriots franchise had quarterback stability, and that is just one of the reasons for all their success. Now they need to find the next “guy” at quarterback, and Patriots fans across the world are praying they can find something remotely close to Brady. If we are being realistic, maybe they’ll find someone in between the talent level of Bledsoe and Brady. Replacing the GOAT is going to be difficult, but if anyone is up to it, it is Bill Belichick.
I could talk all day about Brady and all the amazing accolades he collected during his two decades in New England, but that would be just regurgitating everything else that is being said today. What truly amazed me was thinking about how engrained Tom Brady is in the life of New England people, not just fans. Brady is the reason Boston sports has become what it is today. HE set the tone and forced the other teams to catch up. EVERYONE knows and loves Brady in the New England region, and this loss truly hurts. Yes, he is at the end of his career, but we all know he can still play, and we also all know he shouldn’t be playing his final years in the Big Sombrero in Tampa.
There will always be that lingering question- did the Patriots give away another title, or possibly more, by letting go of the greatest quarterback to ever wear a uniform? It is something we won’t know for two years. All we can do now is appreciate the amazing run and hope that the Patriots have a plan to replace the greatest quarterback to ever step on a football field.
Thank you for everything, Tom. I never in a million years thought that when I watched you get drafted that 20 years later you would be the Michael Jordan of football. Good luck in Tampa, Patriots fans and media will be rooting for you for the rest of your career.