By Kevin J. Stone/@kstone06/@newftbj
March 17, 2020 – a day that will live in New England sports infamy.
Fittingly, snow was falling on Tuesday morning when Tom Brady stunningly announced he’d be continuing his football journey somewhere other than New England via instagram.
The man who seemingly provided some of his best football in bad weather had one final dagger to throw through the snow, but this one wasn’t headed into a receivers hands, yet through the hearts of all of New England.
For 20-plus years TB12 guaranteed you a shot to at least be in every football game. Every comeback, every Super Bowl winning dive, even every interception, you knew there would be a bounce back moment. As a fan, that may end up being what people miss the most. Not just the wins, but to tune in every Sunday and know the team you were rooting for had a chance to win every single time based on the quarterback is a luxury we’ve all gotten far too used to.
I was 13 when Drew Bledsoe took the hit from Mo Lewis that changed the history of the NFL. Weeks later, when Bledsoe was cleared to play yet Brady was named the starter moving forward before a game against New Orleans, I was devastated. I had grown up with Bledsoe being the only quarterback I ever watched. I went to the Saints game that week at the old Foxborough Stadium with my father in a driving rain storm and sat there watching TB12 lead them to a win. The Pats never lost again that year, and when the kick went through the uprights in the SuperDome for that first title, Brady was officially the man.
Over the years Iv’e gone to numerous games that will forever be burned in my memory because of him. The 2011 Ravens AFC championship (Cundiff’s missed kick), with Brady diving over the top of a massive pile at the goal line late in the game, the Denver 31-point comeback on Sunday night football in 35-40mph winds (I left at halftime after my beer had frozen, but I was still technically there), those are the in-person memories I and we as fans will have forever.
The Super Bowls speak for themselves. The Seattle comeback, the Atlanta comeback, as much as it sucks right now, those are moments we’ve all been able to share that other fan bases only dream of.
The scariest part about all this is how it ended. Brady didn’t even technically reach free agency before he announced he was leaving. There isn’t a team that’s locked him up yet, but Tom still decided to let us all know he was leaving as fast as possible. Belichick of course expedited this process by treating him like a second-year nobody, but the fact Brady would spend 20 years here with so many great memories, yet have no problem ripping the band aid right off and deciding he’d leave before 2020 free agency is a collective kick in the nuts.
So, now what? Stidham? Dalton? Does it really matter? As our country is forced to sit at home and those in New England are now forced to dwell on the fact that Sunday’s may be spent watching an 8-8 or 9-7 team, it’s important to remember that he owed the fan base nothing here.
Sports are meant to be a distraction and another way to bring you closer to your buddies with various special moments. Brady provided all of us that opportunity for 20 years over and over again, and for that there is nothing else to say besides thank you.
Here’s to hoping he goes to Miami so we can at least say good bye the proper way later this year in his return to Gillette, and you can assure it will be better than any Garden or Fenway “moment” in the history of Boston sports.
Speaking as an aspiring journalist as well as a fan: Thank you from a kid who grew up hoping to cover you one day in a professional setting, but instead will now have to settle for covering the franchise you helped make the greatest in all of professional sports.
So long TB12, and thanks for showing New England how special sports can be.