I write this strictly as a fan. Heartbroken, angry, grateful.
From childhood, Larry Bird and Ray Bourque fought for my love as favorite Boston athlete. I worshipped them both. Then Tom Brady came along and hip-checked Bourque ass over teakettle into his own bench while posterizing Larry Legend's mustache with his Under Armour jockstrap.
With the exception of family, no one has brought me more joy than Tom Brady. Sounds creepy ... whatever. Writing honest and from the heart.
Too bad the people who matter most didn't sacrifice.
The two who owe Brady the most — Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft — could not find it within their cold business hearts to reward 20 seasons of buy-one-get-two-free Big Y-type discounts, with a couple years of paying regular price. Guess their Brady coupons expired. I know. It's a business. Blah, blah, blah. I understand, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.
Don't agree with Belichick and Kraft owing Brady? What would the Patriots' rosters have looked like over the past two decades if Brady commanded what he deserved after winning three Super Bowls in his first four years as a starter? Not only did he save the team cap space, but how many other Patriots followed his lead and took less for the greater good? How many free agents shaved a few mill off asking to jump aboard the championship train? Of the four major sports, Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. is the greatest athlete to ever play, yet he was never once the highest-paid player in his league. What?! (Mind-blown emoji)
None of this happens without the selfless Brady. How has thy G.O.A.T. loved thee? Let me count the ways.
Aliens or Terminators will rule this planet before another athlete duplicates what Brady did for this fanbase. In other words, if you’ve been a Patriots fan since 2001, you are truly one of a kind. You’ve felt something that no other fan has or ever will experience in the history of mankind — 240 months of being a winner. Every Christmas, I thought my parents spoiled me pretty rotten. After what Brady has given me, it might be time to have a sit-down with the folks to discuss my trauma from them depriving me.
Then there’s TB12 blessing us Patriots fans with the feeling of invincibility. Before kickoff, we literally believed we would win every single game when he was under center. New England would have to be losing by 30 points in the 4th quarter for us Die Hards’ to lose hope. In February of 2017, we all learned in the most miraculous way that a 25 point deficit was certainly not enough to throw in the towel.
What else? When barroom debates break out about who is the greatest between Gretzky and Lemieux, Jordan and James, Ruth and Mantle, or whoever you'd like to add or subtract to the discussion, things can get interesting, even heated. Now, when someone attempts to put Montana in the same universe with Brady, we just snicker, and shake our heads in pity. The person is either a Hater, or simply doesn't know much about football, because there is no debate. Brady has made us all champions.
If I had my way, I'd send a virtual slap to every Hater, sportswriter or human who dares to utter the idiocy, "Is he the next Tom Brady?” Let me answer that for you: Shut up. The world is dumb enough without you bringing more stupidity to it. Just look at how humanity is handling the Coronavirus. There will never be another Tom Brady, so leave our innocent brain cells alone and don't ask.
In a year or two or three, when the G.O.A.T. retires, everyone will rehash their, “No one beats Father Time” takes. Bull. Brady won a Super Bowl in his 40’s. Sorry Mr. Time, in this barbaric sport, that’s not supposed to happen. You lost. Father Time was one of many victims of the Gridiron God. Ultimately, Brady defeated all of his biggest rivals: Peyton Manning, Roger Goodell, 31 NFL teams. But more importantly, for us fans, he conquered the most powerful enemy of them all:
Who wins this much, this often, and keeps working harder to win more? No one does. Just Tom Bleeping Brady. On behalf of every Patriots fan, thank you for loving us so much. You showed it, for 20, glorious, years. We will love you longer than even Father Time would be willing to wait.