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Well, here we are.
A day that I never thought I would see. Tom Brady will be playing NFL games in a jersey that doesn’t say ‘Patriots’ on it.
Tom Brady has agreed to a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is on the heels of his illustrious 20-year career with the New England Patriots.
Coming out of the University of Michigan, Brady wasn’t a highly-touted prospect. He was the 199th overall selection in the 2000 NFL Entry Draft and there were six quarterbacks selected in front of him – a group that is now referred to as ‘The Brady 6’. Upon drafting him, the Patriots had no idea that they had just made the single greatest draft selection in pro sports history; however, they did know that they had something in Brady.
They kept him on their roster as a fourth quarterback, which is unheard of. As the months went by, he became the third-string quarterback and then became the second string. He barely played in his rookie season, but that wouldn’t last long. In the second game of Brady’s sophomore season, starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who the team had recently signed to a $100 million contract, was hit by Jets linebacker Mo Lewis; Bledsoe was forced to go to the hospital for his injury, which led to Brady coming into the game.
The Patriots lost that game but didn’t lose many more after that. Brady was named the starting quarterback in week three and went on to win the Super Bowl against the St. Louis Rams and his first Super Bowl MVP.
Two years later, Brady would win his second Super Bowl, along with his second Super Bowl MVP; only to win his third Super Bowl in the very next season. It was clear that something special had arrived in Foxboro. Three years later, the Patriots acquired two players by the names of Randy Moss and Wes Welker. In Brady’s first season with these new weapons, he led the Patriots to a perfect 16-0 regular-season record, while also setting the single-season record for passing touchdowns with 50 and winning the first MVP of his career.
Unfortunately, the Patriots couldn’t complete the second perfect season in NFL history, as they lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. Brady didn’t have the best game of his career in the Super Bowl, but he left the field with the lead with 2:42 left in the fourth quarter and the defence couldn’t hold on.
The following season, Brady was hit low by Bernard Pollard in the season opener and tore his knee, ending his season before it began.
The next year, when Brady came back, he had a good season, but nothing special. Then in 2010, he won his second MVP, throwing 36 touchdowns and only four interceptions, while leading the Patriots to a 14-2 record.
In 2011, Brady made it back to the Super Bowl, with a team that had no business making it that far. The opponent was once again the New York Giants and for the second time of his career Brady walked away from the field without the Lombardi Trophy in his hands. Brady didn’t have the best game of his life, but he left the field with the lead with 3:53 left in the fourth quarter and the defence couldn’t close things out.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, their star tight end Rob Gronkowski was hurt in the AFC Championship and was clearly limited in the Super Bowl. If he was healthy, maybe Brady would’ve had his fourth ring.
It would be three seasons before Brady would reach the Super Bowl again, but this time it would be different. Facing off against the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, with their vaunted ‘Legion of Boom’ secondary, it was considered Brady’s toughest task to date.
The game was a back and forth affair and ended with five of the craziest minutes in football history. Brady got the ball back with 6:52 in the fourth quarter, down by 3. Brady would lead a surgical drive down to Seattle’s three-yard line. With 2:02 left on the clock, Brady hit Julian Edelman for the go-ahead touchdown. Seattle’s quarterback Russell Wilson started his drive and was making progress.
With just over a minute left, Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for an unfathomable catch – Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler defended the pass, however, Kearse, while on his back, managed to juggle the ball with his feet and hands before finally getting control of it at the Patriots five-yard line.
At this point, it was game over. The Seahawks were going to hand the ball off to Marshawn Lynch four times, and he was guaranteed to score on one of them. On the first play, they gave it to Lynch and he ran it to the Patriots one-yard line.
Note: Dont’a Hightower tackling Lynch on this play is still one of the most under-appreciated plays in a long time.
Anyways, on the one-yard line, it was a foregone conclusion that the Seahawks would hand the ball off and win.The Patriots had their run defence on the field, making it more difficult for the Seahawks, but it was still obvious that the Seahawks would give the ball to Lynch.
Then, the unthinkable happened. Wilson dropped back and threw a slant to Ricardo Lockette, but Malcolm Butler, who almost broke up the Kearse catch, beat Lockette to the ball and secured the biggest interception of all-time. The Patriots would kneel the rest of the game away and Brady would win his fourth Super Bowl and third Super Bowl MVP.
Two years later, Brady would make another appearance in the Super Bowl, this time against the Atlanta Falcons. Before half time, it looked like the end of the Patriots Dynasty as we knew it. Atlanta was running away with the game, eventually getting a 28-3 lead in the third quarter.Patriots haters were having the time of their lives; saying that the Patriots were done, Brady should retire and everything in between.
The most amazing part was that despite their teams losing to Brady and the Patriots repeatedly for the past 17 years, they still hadn’t learned their lesson. The lesson I’m referring to? Never, and I mean never, count Tom Brady out. With 2:06 left in the third, Brady hit James White for a 5-yard touchdown: 28-9. Then Stephen Gostkowski hit a field goal with 9:44 left in the fourth: 28-12.
With 5:56 left, Danny Amendola caught a 6-yard touchdown, which was followed up by James White scoring the two-point conversion: 28-20. Then with less than a minute left, James White scored a touchdown and Brady hit Amendola for the two-point conversion: tie game 28-28.
When the Patriots won the coin toss in overtime and decided to receive, everybody knew that they were going to be walking out of the building as Champions. In overtime, Brady went 5-for-7 for 50 yards before James White scored the Super Bowl-winning touchdown less than four minutes in. Brady now had his fifth Super Bowl ring and fourth Super Bowl MVP.
The next year, Brady won his third regular-season MVP and the Patriots once again made it to the Super Bowl but fell short against the Philadelphia Eagles. Brady threw three touchdowns in this game and broke the record for most passing yards ever in a Super Bowl with 505; but the Patriots couldn’t pull off the victory.
Onto the 2018 season, where for the third year in a row, the Patriots found themselves in the Super Bowl. This time against the high-powered Los Angeles Rams. The game was expected to be an absolute shootout but ended up being the exact opposite. Neither offence played well, which is why there wasn’t a touchdown until the fourth quarter.
However, despite an off game, Brady still found a way to once again display his big game brilliance. Tied 3-3 in the fourth quarter, Brady made one of the best throws of his career to Rob Gronkowski who caught it at the Rams’ two-yard line. On the next play, Sony Michel would run it in for the touchdown and the Patriots wouldn’t look back. Brady won the sixth Super Bowl of his career, a feat that will most likely never be matched by another quarterback.
This past season, the Patriots looked like the best team in the league once again due to their defence. However, their offence lacked weapons and that was eventually their downfall. The Patriots screwed themselves out of a chance of a first-round BYE with a late-season loss to the Miami Dolphins; they faced the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs and lost. Little did we know at the time, but Brady’s final throw, a pick-6 to Logan Ryan, would be his last in a Patriots uniform.
Now he moves onto greener pastures where he will have many more weapons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers than the Patriots were giving him. Whether or not this move will increase his chances of another Super Bowl victory remains to be seen. But he has more than deserved the right to make the decision that he feels is best for him, his career and his family.
It’s a sad ending to a historical run. Six Super Bowl wins. Nine Super Bowl appearances. Seventeen division titles. All accomplishments that will likely never be matched.
Brady ended his time with the Patriots with the most regular-season wins of all-time (219), the second-most passing yards (74,571) and the second-most passing touchdowns (541).
In the postseason, he is unmatched. He has the most postseason wins (30), most passing yards (11,388), most touchdowns (73), most Super Bowl yards (2,838), most Super Bowl touchdowns (18), most Super Bowl wins (6), most Super Bowl appearances (9) and most Super Bowl MVPs (4).
Brady has more Super Bowls than thirty NFL franchises and more than Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre and Dan Marino combined.
But perhaps the most impressive part of Brady’s Patriots tenure is the fact that he had two Hall-of-Fame careers combined into one. By this, I mean that if you split his career in half from 2000-2009 and from 2010-2019, either half would be elected to the Hall-of-Fame.
2000-2009: 97-30 regular season record, 63.3 completion %, 30,844 yards, 225 TD, 99 INT, 1 MVP, 3 Super Bowls, 2 Super Bowl MVPs.
2010-2019: 122-34 regular season record, 64.2 completion %, 43,727 yards, 316 TD, 80 INT, 2 MVPs, 3 Super Bowls, 2 Super Bowl MVPs.
But now here we are, on the brink of Tom Brady putting on a different jersey for the first time in his career. Words can’t express what he has meant to the Patriots organization, the city of Boston or to myself. He has literally given me some of the happiest days of my life and I am forever grateful for that.
As long as he is still in the NFL, I’ll be cheering for him to pass Drew Brees for most regular season passing yards and touchdowns, win MVPs and multiple Super Bowls (if the Patriots don’t). It goes without saying, but he’s my favourite athlete of all-time and I am already saving up to buy another TV so I can watch Buccaneers games and Patriots games simultaneously.
He may no longer be a New England Patriot, but he will forever be the G.O.A.T.
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