Patriots

Tom Brady — and Gronk — are making it hard on Patriots fans

Brady isn’t about to let Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, or Patriots fans off the hook anytime soon.

Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady celebrate their victory in Super Bowl 55. AP

COMMENTARY

Week 4 of the NFL season is only two weeks away. 

The punishment has already begun. 

What do you think goes through Bob Kraft’s mind every time he sees Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski hook up in the end zone wearing uniforms that should make them all but unrecognizable? Is the Patriots owner satisfied with watching his team pull away from the Meadowlands with a gift-wrapped win over a pitiful divisional opponent? Or does he continually wonder why he chose the peevish coach over the beloved tandem? 

If it isn’t the latter, when does he catch up to everybody else? 

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Brady isn’t making it easy to be a Patriots fan, a mission he’s seemingly had at the forefront of his mind for more than a year now. The future Hall of Famer is backing up his seventh Super Bowl ring with a rousing start to this season. His Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-0 with Brady already having tossed nine touchdown passes, five of which came in Sunday’s 48-25 trouncing of the Atlanta Falcons. He’s now a mere 500 yards away from breaking Drew Brees’s career passing record of 80,358 yards. 

Maybe he’ll just get it done with a monster game against the Los Angeles Rams next week and leave the rest of us out of his pursuit. 

We all know that’s not going to happen. Brady is right on track — perfectly in line — to break the record in the familiar confines of Gillette Stadium, the place where we should expect him and Gronk to give the Patriots sideline the same glowering stare of intimidation that Roger Clemens once gave to the owners box at Fenway Park when he returned in a Blue Jays uniform. 

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It’s better to settle with the inevitable. Brady will probably break the record with a touchdown pass to Gronk, just to smother Bill Belichick’s face in the egg dripping from his furrowed brow. Just to stop time at Gillette Stadium and celebrate another Brady accomplishment, all while Belichick and Josh McDaniels figure out their next best way to surrender an offensive threat in the end zone. Just to twist the knife a little bit deeper into the stubborn mistake that going with the legendary coach was a better option than sticking with the legendary quarterback. 

It’s Brady 1, Belichick 0, and the score couldn’t be more lopsided. 

Brady and Gronkowski are doing little to make anybody think they’re in the twilights of their careers. The pair have already hooked up in the end zone four times over the first two games. That’s already one more touchdown than Gronkowski managed to score the entirety of the 2018 season with the Patriots, you know, the final one before “retiring” with a ring on his finger. 

Now, as if another Super Bowl weren’t enough, they are preparing for Week 4’s showdown against their former team with all the diplomacy of a hurricane greeting an olive branch. But it’s too late for any peace-making ventures. Kraft is just as much in the path of this storm as the man he chose to keep over the fan favorites. 

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If there was any hope that the Tampa Bay-Patriots game might have resulted in a competitive night for national TV, that aspiration probably fizzled away after the Patriots did little to impress against the horrible New York Jets. Despite four interceptions of rookie QB Zach Wilson, watching Mac Jones and the Patriots offense was like reading at a first-grade level. The 25-6 score does nothing to relay just how pathetic the Jets were on either side of the football. It does everything to suggest that the Patriots’ offense is stuck in neutral, the same sort of purgatory it spent the past year and a half with a broken Cam Newton and a pouting Brady leading the charge. 

So, after the first two weeks of the season, how should we expect anything but an all-encompassing annihilation of Patriot Place when the Bucs pull in off Route One? 

Brady and Gronk are leading the brigade with one goal in mind; to make life miserable, if only for one day, for the coach who made their lives so arduous while playing the game they love. It’s going to last oh, so much longer than a mere 24 hours though. 

Brady suggested last week he might play until he’s 50. By that point, Belichick will be 75. One has to think Brady will keep playing until he can outlast the man who is now his nemesis. 

Rob Gronkowski celebrates one of his two touchdowns from Tom Brady in Week 2.

The Super Bowl win was only the beginning. Brady isn’t about to let Belichick, Kraft, or Patriot fans — the ones who didn’t embarrassingly defect to wearing pirate garb — off the hook anytime soon. Brady is ready to stick your face in his greatness. He’s going to hold it there, just like training a puppy, just so you can smell the contrition. Then, he’s probably going to win another title or two just for the mere sake so that you don’t forget. 

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Kraft’s team put a win in his back pocket Sunday. But by the time the owner saw Brady and Gronkowski hook up for a second time on Sunday, the only thing that was clearly evident was the message they were sending. 

The comeuppance was only just getting started. 

It’s coming to a head in two weeks. From there, the rebuilding Patriots and defending Super Bowl champs go their separate ways. 

Knowing the way Brady has managed to keep chips on his shoulder over the course of his career, his castigation for New England will likely never end. He’ll make certain that Kraft regrets choosing coach over player for the rest of his life. 

The game between the Patriots and Bucs takes place on Oct. 3. But Week 4 really started way back last March, when Brady high-tailed it to Florida. It has the likelihood of bleeding out into another few years at least. 

Kraft went with the coach. The 44-year-old he did everything for otherwise will never let him forget. Two weeks to go until Week 4. 
Longest. Week. Ever. 

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