Tom Brady didn’t embrace Boston like David Ortiz did, but he took us on one heck of a journey

Ortiz put a historical trademark on one of Boston’s most horrific events while Brady was always content being the outsider and taking us along for the ride.

Tom Brady and David Ortiz were the central figures of Boston's two decades of sports dominance. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

It’s been 10 years since I said Tom Brady was finished.

It’s good of him to finally succumb to that theory.

He was the greatest of all time. A seven-time Super Bowl winner, three-time MVP, and an annual pain in everybody’s ass. Brady did more than simply establish himself as the class of his position. The quarterback was a maestro when it came to allocating comeuppance, proving his doubters wrong, and creating a motivational tactic that drove him to become one of the most successful athletes in modern history.

Brady made it so you sound like a fool to argue another quarterback’s company in his hierarchy. He took the Joe Montana comparisons and easily overshadowed everything his boyhood hero managed in San Francisco. He scoffed at playing second fiddle to Peyton Manning all those years and now leaves with a handful of Lombardis more than his former rival. Every shred of doubt that arose from cheating scandals, being selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, and, most of all, age, Brady took and spit on general consensus.


For a region of sports fans more defined by coming up short, Brady’s heroic theatrics in the clutch were something we hadn’t seen since Bird still patrolled the Garden. A few years after Brady’s arrival, David Ortiz announced his own with the Red Sox. What followed were two decades of dramatic finishes, clutch performances, and a general air of greatness that helped raise a generation of lovably-obnoxious sports fans.

It’s fitting that Brady might announce his retirement within the same week that Ortiz got elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. That officially puts a bow on the most successful stretch of professional sports any city in America has ever had. Brady and Ortiz helped deliver nine of the 11 championships that took place for Boston while both were playing. You lived it. You know.

But along the way, while Ortiz embraced his surroundings, even putting a historical trademark on one of Boston’s most horrific events, Brady was always content to be defined merely for his on-field accomplishments. Ortiz became a part of New England during his career here. Brady never did. Nor did it seem as if it were something he ever wanted.


Some of that had to do with the immediate stratosphere of his superstardom, not to mention pairing that off with the worldwide icon he managed to marry into. There was always a robotic standoffishness with Brady that was always ignored because of his prowess at delivering. New England fans loved what Brady did for them, but he sort of made it hard for anyone to try and relate to him.

Brady was always content being the outsider and taking us along for the ride. It was his show, and we were welcome to watch. But there was never really any connection to Brady’s personality, or at least the one he’s tried to create for himself over the last half-decade or so.

Unless the topic was about a certain lab test that leaked, Ortiz was always very candid, turning his fierce emotion into fire on the field. Brady did the same, but beneath a tablecloth that suppressed the emotion. Always so careful not to offend anybody, he turned into a bore from a public perception. Which made him perfect for Jim Gray to latch onto.

You always knew there was a burning requirement in Brady’s cauldron of recompense, but only rarely did he allow for a peek behind the curtain, giving quick glimpses into his vulnerability before his team of millennial groomers would swoop in and change the narrative. That’s something Brady has managed to do for the entirety of his career.


Sixth-round draft pick? Three-time MVP.

The New England Patriots, a franchise more known for incompetence than success? Brady turned them into a global superpower.

He’s just a game-manager? How about three Super Bowl titles?

Accusations of cheating? How about three more?

Bill Belichick? Hold my beer, I’m moving to Tampa.

At every turn, Brady had an answer. On the field at least. In front of a microphone, he was always a stiff mess.

But every time we thought he was through, Brady just kept on plugging away, proving his distinction at an age when most NFL players have long hung them up.

Ten years ago, after a second-straight crushing defeat in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants, it seemed like some of the magic that made Brady had disappeared. Suddenly, he was only 3-2 in the Super Bowl, and the moments that defined the later ones (the safety, the low throw to Welker, “We’re only going to score 17 points?”) were on the opposite end of the spectrum of the one that gave us the first three Lombardis.

From there, Brady only went on to put up numbers good enough for a second Hall of Fame career. He’ll just have to wait five years to join Ortiz with that classification.

Brady is undeniably the greatest. But Ortiz is the more beloved.

That’s because New England became a part of Ortiz.

Brady just seemed to tolerate it.

Of course, he’ll probably prove us wrong on that eventually as well. That is, after all, what Tom Brady has always done best.


And boy, did he do it better than anybody else. 



This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on