Tom Brady officially signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday, and, as we are all reeling from the end of an era along with everything else going on at the moment, I want to thank Tom for his tenure in New England. Coming out of the University of Michigan, Tom was selected in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Patriots, and the rest is history. Now widely recognized as the greatest quarterback of all time, Brady has left the franchise he transformed from the depths of the NFL to the greatest sports organization in the 21st century. I have struggled to find the words to adequately describe what Patriots fans should feel.
Personally, I have never witnessed a Patriots season without Tom Brady being at least on the roster. The longevity of this dynasty is unprecedented in the era of expansion, with so many teams vying for playoff berths year in and year out and many others out of contention for vast periods of time. Patriots fans never had to worry about whether the team was going to make the playoffs or not. Tom would get them there no matter what. Though there were years where their roster was simply inferior to those of other talented teams, Brady still managed to drag them to the playoffs every year, often with a first round bye.
He took the reins from Drew Bledsoe in 2001, leading the Patriots to their first Super Bowl.
The Patriots circa 2004 and 2005 were the last teams to win back to back to date, including a drive that some thought was impossible against the Carolina Panthers. The league saw the first undefeated regular season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins in 2007. In 2011, Tom won MVP in unanimous fashion, and, despite his worst defense ever, led the Patriots to a first round bye, ultimately falling to the New York Jets in the divisional round. In 2014, New England saw possibly the greatest playoff run in Patriots history, with the Julian Edelman pass to Danny Amendola against the Ravens, the complete shellacking of the Indianapolis Colts, and, of course, the Malcolm Butler interception.
2016 saw the Patriots defeat the Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the greatest comeback of all time to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
And the last hurrah of 2018 was remarkable as well. The victory against the Kansas City Chiefs was one of the best games I have ever watched, as the Patriots won against all odds.
Not only was Tom’s on-field performance special, but he was an incredible teammate and leader, with many stories to back that statement up. Adam Butler, who originally joined the team as an undrafted free agent defensive tackle out of Vanderbilt, has often said that when he first met the quarterback, he introduced himself as “Tom”. Left Guard Joe Thuney said that Tom knew his name when he walked into the locker room as a rookie. Defensive Lineman Lawrence Guy said that Tom knew everybody’s name on the team, and had a relationship with every single player who was lucky enough to don a Patriots uniform. That is so unusual for a team whose roster is sometimes made up of 90 people.
Tom has given us too many good things. We have been fortunate enough to be given 6 super bowl championships in 19 years. The Patriots are not just losing the greatest quarterback of all time. They are also losing a pillar in the New England community and a fantastic teammate and leader.
Over the course of 19 years, the Patriots have won 6 super bowls, lost 3, won 9 conference championships and reached 13 of them. The Patriots have not had a losing season since 2000. Tom Brady has won 4 Super Bowl MVPs, 3 regular season MVPs, 14 Pro-Bowls, and 3 all pro awards. He is also 2nd all time in passing yards, 2nd all time in passing touchdowns, and 5th all time in passer rating. For all the naysayers over the years, Tom has not only proved them wrong, but surpassed every single expectation anyone ever had for him except himself. He was the immaculate teammate, quarterback, and leader, and for us Patriots fans, he should be considered as nothing less than a hero.
As a lifelong Patriots fan, Tom has had a profound effect on me. My father has told me stories of how awful the Patriots of yore were, and while I never got to see the horrible play of those teams, I can appreciate how Tom Brady revived football culture in New England. The Patriots were close to moving outside of Massachusetts during the 1990s, and owner Robert Kraft kept them there. I have developed a love for Tom Brady that cannot rival any other athlete alive. And while, yes, my heart is broken, we cannot say anything derogatory about the greatness we have witnessed over the last 20 years. We can only appreciate the past, and look forward to both the future of the Patriots and Tom Brady with the Buccaneers.
I have owned many Brady jerseys since I first really got into it when I was about 5 years old. My friends know that I often joke that I will name my first child “Thomas Brady Campbell”. I do not doubt there are others like me, who love Tom with all their heart. This loss hit me very hard initially. And though he had to leave eventually, it is still surreal to me. As we try to piece everything together, we do the best we can to move on and look to the future.
So, from what is most definitely the bottom of my heart, I would like to say thank you to Tom Brady for all that he has given us over the years. There will never be another player, person, and teammate like Tom Brady. As for the region of New England, we will go on, with great memories behind us and a bright future. As for Tampa, please take care of him. And for Tom: thank you for everything. We’ll see you in Canton. And we will always love you.
For those who are looking to cry, here is Spencer Weeks’ video:
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