Well – it’s finally happened. No matter how many prayers Patriots fans sent to the NFL gods, our worst nightmare has come true as Tom Brady leaves New England.
Tom Brady’s departure from Gillette, the place he has called home for 20 years, was always a likely scenario since they failed to negotiate a new contract last season.
This is the only the first time in two decades that has happened so there was obviously a reason behind it.
But that doesn’t make the very bitter pill any easier to swallow. Heck – it’s even taken me two days to stop crying and write this piece as Brady – the greatest athlete of all time – signs a $30 million a year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
AFC fans, and probably NFC fans as well, will be joining hands and rejoicing at the news as the Patriots’ winning ways are suddenly cast in doubt.
But Patriots fans will be mourning the end of this era – which saw Tom Brady hoist six Lombardi trophies and bag four Super Bowl MVPs – for a while.
There’s a lot of things that are upsetting about the manner in which Brady departed.
One of the biggest is his last game in a Patriots jersey which will now go down in history as just that, a game that Pats Nation would rather forget.
The New England Patriots missed out on the first-round bye and headed into the playoffs to face the Tennessee Titans.
Tom Brady leaves New England after disastrous final play
In the 20-13 wild card round defeat, Brady completed 20 of 37 passes with no touchdowns in a frustrating performance by the team as a whole.
But the most painful moment was, of course, the final throw of his Patriots career – an ugly pick six to former Patriot Logan Ryan. It was awful. And is now part of history.
In that game, and for much of last season, Brady often looked fed up. He seemed indifferent in press conferences and looked frustrated on the sidelines.
He could be seen taking aim at his receivers and looked to be berating them at times, most notably in the loss against the Texans in December and it was completely understandable.
Brady is racing time to make as much history as possible and likely only has a few good years left.
Yet he was consistently throwing to rookies and chronic under performers. The offence was being carried by the defence and really had no business being in a playoff game.
But Pats fans were praying Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft would take the hint and get the man the weapons he deserves to discourage him from leaving.
After all, Brady has taken sub-market value pay for years to allow for just that and it is a tactic that has paid off in the past.
So who can blame him for wanting to get a pay day if the Patriots front office doesn’t deliver?
It’s still not exactly clear what happened with negotiations. Rumours are there wasn’t really any but on whose part we may never know.
We know Bill Belichick notoriously always puts football before sentimentality and if this was his decision because he truly felt Brady wasn’t up t o the job any more then I guess Bill has earned the right to be trusted by Pats Nation.
Only time will tell if he has some masterplan to keep the Pats competitive despite several key players walking out the door during this year’s free agency.
Here’s what Bill and Robert Kraft had to say about Brady’s departure.
Another thing that doesn’t sit right about the way Brady left was how he played up to the hype and teased fans across social media.
Now, as Tom Brady leaves New England, it just seems cruel to put out ads saying “I’m not going anywhere” and posting ambiguous pictures stood in the tunnel at Gillette.
These actions caused an unbearable level of scrutiny and speculation from the wider NFL fan community, pundits and the media and by the end most Pats fans wanted to be put out of their misery.
If he knew the Pats weren’t budging from the offer made last August, why did he have to tease us so relentlessly?
Of course, Brady has earned the right to play wherever he wants and there won’t be many true Pats fans who will turn their back on him.
Quite the opposite as true fans should be hoping he continues to win so he can prove to the doubters he is not just a product of an extremely effective system.
Similarly, Belichick can now prove his genius is truly legitimate to any doubters who say his success is only the product of having an elite quarterback.
It’s probably the most interesting and exciting off-season and upcoming season for the Patriots this millennium.
But for now, from a broken-hearted fan, as Tom Brady leaves New England, please allow us to mourn in peace without rubbing too much salt in the wound.
After all, this is the end of an era that has had an unfathomable impact on the sporting world as a whole, not just in New England, as it has truly redefined the meaning of greatness.
As Julian Edelman says, we will always love Tom Brady.
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