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BSJ Day 1 member David Pham
What a ride.
Last Tuesday, Tom Brady announced that he is continuing his football journey without the New England Patriots. I was devastated.
Tom Brady has been the quarterback of the New England Patriots since I was 9-years old. As someone who is in his late 20s, I have only rooted for one quarterback in my entire life as a football fan.
Being a Patriots fan enthralled me. I lived and died with every win and loss. It became an unhealthy relationship at times. Those Super Bowl losses to the Giants would lead to depression when I was an immature teenager. The three recent Super Bowl championships brought so much happiness in my 20s. I felt invigorated after a win and sour after a loss. Yes, it may seem silly that someone I have never met with or talked to affects so much of my personal life. Yet that is the feeling Tom Brady invokes for many of us. Throughout middle school, high school, undergrad, grad school, and working adult life, the one constant has been Tom Brady quarterbacking the New England Patriots on Sundays.
It has been fun and it is hard to imagine a better sports dynasty than the one we are lucky enough to have witnessed. I am just sad because there have been many great moments that I have experienced with Tom in New England and that time is over.
So, what now? Everyone reacts differently, of course. For most, they are thrilled that Brady’s reign in New England is over. Some Patriots fans are heartbroken over Brady’s departure. Others are looking forward to see what Belichick can do without Brady. For me, I am going to take a break from my obsessive nature to watch, read, and breathe everything football. Maybe I won’t follow every single football transaction. Maybe I won’t research potential draft pick selections. It just hurts too much right now.
But when training camp begins, I have a feeling that I will be following football again. Just not in the same maniacal manner that I used to. It won’t be the same.
Brady is not retired. He is still going to play football, trading in his Patriots navy blue uniform for the Buccaneer's pewter and red. Everyone who has doubted the 199th draft pick has been proven wrong. Belichick will still experience success because he is an excellent football coach. But will things ever be as good as they were when Belichick was the head coach and Brady was the quarterback?
When the Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl, Tony Romo mentioned in the CBS television broadcast, “Enjoy it, folks. You are never ever going to see it again.” Jim Nantz replied, “Not in our lifetime.”
We are extremely fortunate to experience the greatest run in sports history. Thank you, Tom, for providing great memories that a sports fan can only dream about. From all the late game-winning drives, fourth-quarter comebacks, and Super Bowl championships, it has truly been an honor to watch the greatest of all time play.
From BSJ Diehard member, Nathan Scalise
The first football play I can distinctly remember watching was Mo Lewis’ hit on Drew Bledsoe. I was 8 years old, watching the game in a child-sized Bledsoe jersey. My dad – having grown up in the “Why us?” era of Boston sports and still praying to see the Red Sox win just one World Series – immediately assumed the worst and began to explain to me that Bledsoe might not be back on the field for awhile.
Boy, what an understatement.
I’m 26 now, and wherever I’ve gone and however my life has changed the Belichick-Brady Patriots have simply been a fact of life. I’ve attended five schools, and the Patriots played in at least one Super Bowl during my time at all five of them. I have memories of celebrating Super Bowl wins in three houses, an apartment, and my college dorm. I’m a professional musician, and I’ve been watching Brady longer than I’ve been playing music. I was in second grade for that first super bowl, and I watched the last one with my wife, while teaching at a college.
Growing up in the midst of this dynasty, it felt like those first Super Bowls made the golden age of Boston sports that we’ve experienced possible. Is that true or rational? Probably not, but as a kid who suddenly saw an 86-year-old curse broken and his favorite teams covered in confetti over and over again, it sure looked that way.
To quote Sandlot, Brady seemed like less than a God but more than a man, like Hercules or something. He fashioned himself the perpetual underdog, a sixth-round pick transformed by the sheer force of his competitive will and self-discipline into a championship-winning machine. He demonstrated both what it meant to be totally dedicated to one thing (avocado ice cream, anyone?) and the level of success that work ethic could bring. There was obviously an element of mythmaking to it (Really? TB12 recovery pajamas?) but what did it matter when he was bringing home title after title? How could it not be inspiring? After watching Brady, how could I say that I loved something if I wasn’t willing to work at it like Brady worked at football? And so consequently, the following statement is true: Tom Brady made me a better musician.
As a fan, I’m beyond disappointed that Brady, Belichick, and Kraft couldn’t get together, be reasonable, and do what I think would’ve been best for the team and for all of them. Depending on how these next two years go, this may sting like the Super Bowl that shall not be named, or I may have to reluctantly admit that BB made the right move.
But whatever happens, I’ll still be watching. Come hell or Cody Kessler, I’ll be following training camp, the new quarterback battle, and the fight at the fringe of the roster via BSJ – it just won’t be the same. The athletes you grow up watching, the first ones who are yours, whose numbers you fight over in youth sports, who your classmates name their dogs after, who you imagine being when you play with your friends in your driveway or the park or at recess, are special and irreplaceable no matter who or what comes after them. It’s why the players from the ’67 or ’75 or ‘86 Red Sox mean something to different generations of fans that the ’04 team just doesn’t, even though the latter broke the curse. For fans my age, Brady was all of that in one: the athlete we grew up watching and the catalyst for all the joy and heartbreak that comes from following sports for 18 years, and he gave us far more joy than even my 8-year-old self would’ve dared to dream when he stepped onto that field in 2001.
Apart from the Super Bowls, the playoff games, and dozens of incredible moments, one Brady drive that always stands out to me is from a rather run-of-the-mill comeback – the win over the Saints on October 13, 2013. I listened to most of the game on the radio while on my way to Fenway Park for Game 2 of the ALCS. I got inside just in time to squeeze in with other fans around the ballpark TVs and watch as Brady somehow took a motley crew of Julian Edelman, Austin Collie, Aaron Dobson, and Kenbrell Thompkins 70 yards with 1:13 and no timeouts for a game-winning TD that put a shot of energy and confidence into an anxious crowd. Illogical as it is, I’ll always believe that the Patriots comeback helped contribute to what unfolded in the Red Sox game. Being there, it just felt that way.
Later that night, basking in the joy of David Ortiz’s grand slam and listening to sports radio on the way home, I heard a replay of Scott Zolak’s hoarse and marginally coherent but strangely poetic radio call of Brady’s TD:
“Brady’s back! That’s your quarterback!... Who left the building?! Unicorns! Show ponies! Where’s the beef!?”
Yeah, that was my quarterback. Man, was I lucky.
From BSJ Military Member Bob M.
An open letter to Tom Brady from Robert K. Kraft.
I’m sorry! But this should have never happened. I’m the owner of the New England Patriots and should have taken care of you, and I DIDN’T! I loved you like a son, but I took advantage of you and never treated you with the loyalty you gave me and this team. I’m sorry!
Every time I asked you to sacrifice for the betterment of the team, you did so without any grumbling. So when you asked me to take care of you, I should have done it without hesitation. You were the heart and soul of this team and 6 Super Bowl Championships. How could I have let this happen?! I’m sorry!
Someday soon, you will be inducted into the Patriots ring of honor, and a statue will be erected outside Gillette Stadium. But it will be tarnished by my lack of foresight, loyalty and stupidity, for allowing you to leave New England and play for another team. I’m sorry!
After Super Bowl 51, (28-3 comeback), I should have re-done your contract, giving you a 5-year deal and raise you wanted and earned while ensuring you’d end your career as a Patriot. I should have done it before the parade announcing it at the City Hall Plaza. I’m sorry!
I never should have given you that BS extension loaded with incentives. I’m sure you could have reached those incentives, but probably at the cost of some wins, which is something you could never do. I’m sorry.
And last summer, our absurd contract negotiations with a minimal raise and voidable years. What a sham! That was my last chance to keep you and I failed again. I’m sorry!
You were behind center for 20 years and everyone knows what we accomplished. Each game you led to the team onto the field with your “Let’s go” and they followed you! And as you sprinted onto the field you spread fear into every team that ever played against you and the New England Patriots. Again, you were the heart and soul of this team. I should have treated you like the hero you are! I’m sorry.
Tom, I failed you and the team as an owner, and didn’t return the loyalty you gave me and this team for 20 years. I’m sorry.
I’m so very sorry,