Well, that takes Evacuation Day to a whole new level.
As if it wouldn’t have been the biggest story on the sports landscape anyway, the absence of any other focus can’t help to quell the pain.
Tom Brady is gone.
In announcing that his “football journey” would take place elsewhere, the former (phew, that’s weird) Patriots quarterback made it official on Tuesday morning by posting a message to social media, thanking his teammates, coaches, and the fans for the past 20 years.
“Our team has always set a great standard in pro sports and I know it will continue to do just that,” Brady wrote.
FOREVER A PATRIOT pic.twitter.com/QSBOJBs4uy
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) March 17, 2020
So, that’s it. Six Super Bowl wins later, the New England Patriots are in a quarterback purgatory. The greatest to ever play the game will wear a new uniform for the 2020 NFL season, whenever exactly that might be played.
You shouldn’t be surprised.
Granted, the moment that missive came from Brady’s social media team Tuesday morning was like a punch to the gut out of nowhere. Yeah, Brady had sold his house, severed ties with Best Buddies, and grimaced at the notion he was returning during a national college basketball broadcast. But he wasn’t really gone yet, you know.
Welcome to reality.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots are going to get a lot of grief for letting Brady walk out the door, but this was ultimately a marriage that had come time for separation. Brady will be 43 years old by the fall rolls around, and there isn’t exactly a plan for the future already in place down at One Patriot Place. The Patriots were already the oldest team in the NFL last season, and wouldn’t be getting any younger by attaching themselves to their Hall of Fame quarterback for another two years and the likes of $60 million.
Brady makes sense for someone else at that number.
Not the Patriots. Sorry.
So, where is it going to be? Tennessee is out with its bizarre commitment to Ryan Tannehill, and the San Francisco fantasy isn’t going to materialize. The Chargers and Buccaneers have reportedly stepped up and offered $30 million or more per year, and the Miami situation is too quiet to not have any merit.
What makes the most sense for Brady doesn’t necessarily mean surrounding him with the best weapons to win a seventh Super Bowl mind you. If Brady’s letter seemed almost like a retirement announcement, in a way it was. After all, Brady is more focused on brand these days than he is being the leader of a football team. Last season was all you need to watch to understand that.
In the midst of the Patriots’ winning, Brady was miserable. Outside of the one game in which he had Antonio Brown, Brady was reduced to his old role of becoming a game-manager. That’s a position that worked for the 24-year-old Brady a long time ago. It doesn’t necessarily work for one that’s trying to further his brand.
Brady’s football career is eventually going to end. The TB12 empire is only in its infancy.
Belichick was never going to give Brady the freedom he thirsted for when it came to spreading the gospel of Alex Guerrero throughout Gillette Stadium. There’s little doubt that their little tug-of-war over Brady’s lifestyle cult the last half-decade was the impetus for the quarterback being firm in his desire for free agency this year. The Patriots may have given Brady a lowball offer to stay next season, but it couldn’t have possibly matched the freedom he’s going to have in being able to further his outside pursuits.
Business is better for Brady and Guerrero in Los Angeles or Miami. Brady can become the quarterback he thinks he can still be in Tampa Bay with the weapons he so desires. But the endgame here isn’t necessarily about helping that team win.
How Brady looks on the field in 2020 is everything for his logo. In his mind, any 45-year-old quarterback could do what he was asked to with the New England Patriots. The TB12 method isn’t going to get the credibility he thinks it deserves unless he lights up the world.
How the Patriots respond in the wake of Bob Kraft throwing Brady under the bus will be fascinating to watch. If you’re on the season ticket waiting list, this may be your lucky day. Thousands of ticket holders who had little knowledge of the Patriots before Mo Lewis are likely to surrender in droves. Is it Jarret Stidham or Andy Dalton moving forward? Can the Jets actually win the AFC East?
The script for this one was written on the walls for some time now. We just refused to acknowledge we knew how to read it.
Tom Brady is gone and it’s not even the strangest thing to happen in sports this year.
What a run.
Don’t burn the jersey.