St. Patrick’s Day in Boston is one of this country’s most joyous occasions. Parades, bars, restaurants, and concerts are all packed with green, inebriated revelers. Coronavirus has canceled the parade, closed the pubs, and forced Dropkick Murphys to instead stream its annual concert. To add insult to injury, the entire New England region woke to the ultimate indignation. A constant source of joy for the last 20 years, Tom Brady announced via social media the news that rocked the sports universe: He’s leaving the New England Patriots.
The 42-year-old Brady won six Super Bowls, made nine Super Bowl appearances, won a whopping 17 division titles including 11 consecutive, and was named NFL MVP three times since being drafted by the Pats in the sixth round in 2000. His impending free agency has been a source of breathless speculation for a matter of months, with most believing that ultimately the game’s greatest quarterback and its greatest coach, Bill Belichick, would reload for one last charge toward an unprecedented seventh ring. The cause for the split is not entirely clear but appears on the surface to be Brady’s choosing. Owner Bob Kraft told NFL Network’s Mike Giardi, “If Tom wanted to remain a Patriot, we would have had a deal.” Kraft explained his emotions in statement:
How do I possibly sum up the depth of my gratitude to Tom Brady for what he’s given us these past 20 years, or the sadness I feel knowing it’s ending? I love Tom like a son and I always will. He has brought so much happiness to me personally and to all of our fans. I had hoped this day would never come…
Though superhuman for most of his two decades, Brady was a mere mortal last season, with the Patriots suffering a stunning home loss to the Titans in the first round of the playoffs and TB12’s final pass at Gillette Stadium, a still inexplicable interception for a touchdown.
Though Brady tweeted “FOREVER A PATRIOT,” the question now turns to where he’ll finish his legendary career. Former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky told me his money is on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the odds-makers agree.
The Bucs have a quarterback-friendly coach, arguably the game’s most talented wide receivers, warm weather, and no state income tax, an attractive package for the soon-to-be 43-year-old. Reports suggest Tampa has offered the future Hall of Famer a deal worth about $30 million per year, as did the Los Angeles Chargers, which will certainly be in the running.
Sports’ long-running debate about how Brady will fair without Belichick and vice versa will soon be answered. Belichick made clear in a statement today he views Brady as the “greatest quarterback of all time,” adding, “Tom was not just a player who bought into our program. He was one of its original creators.”
Uncertainty has taken over just about all aspects of life in recent days, from the stock market to school closings and social distancing. Tom Brady’s future in football is just one more example of the great unknown that lies ahead. The GOAT offered these parting words to the those, usually decked out in green on this day, who are instead feeling blue: “I don’t know what my football future holds, but it is time for me to open a new stage for my life and career.”