When the New England Patriots handed in the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft, very few people noticed. A skinny kid from California, drafted out of a Michigan football program where he was often buried in the depth chart, after a pretty poor combine, wasn’t going to make headlines.
Outside of a few diehard Wolverines, few people expected him to stick around on an NFL roster. When Rod Rutlage hauled in a 6-yard pass, people shrugged.
The Patriots would enter 2001 with Drew Bledsoe continuing as the team’s quarterback. Against the New York Jets, Bledsoe would suffer a season-ending injury.
The NFL changed on September 23rd, 2001. Tom Brady stepped into the game and wouldn’t leave for 20 seasons and counting.
At the conclusion of the 2021 season, the world changed again when Tom Brady announced that he would indeed be stepping away from the game that he has cast an indomitable shadow over. To the delight of Buccaneers fans and the despair of the other 31 teams, this “retirement” didn’t last long.
But it is time to face facts. Bucs fans were stunned by the news of Brady’s retirement, and now we have time to adjust. Now is the time to plan for life without Tom Brady.
This will almost certainly be the last time that Brady plays in the NFL. A farewell tour that hopefully ends as so many seasons have before, with Brady holding the Super Bowl trophy, aloft. A fact the NFL seems to know; with most of the Buccaneers games being nationally televised, fans and haters alike will have plenty of opportunities to see greatness one last time.
With the shadow of Father Time, in conjunction with so many other interests, Tom Brady simply cannot dedicate the time and energy needed to remain at the elite level and still be a husband and father. Brady’s portfolio of businesses, consultancies, charities, etc, spans all over the globe. Other considerations include the fact that Brady and his “TB12 method” have attracted the attention of diverse sports who want to see if they can take this to the next level. This could certainly include a continuing relationship with the Glazers, who own the soccer franchise Manchester United and are in the middle of completely changing the culture of the team to one where a high degree of fitness and resilience to small injuries is needed. Something The GOAT has made a very successful, very long career out of.
It is time to learn how to say goodbye. Before the arrival of Brady through free agency, nearly every fan would have accepted three years of seeing the greatest of all time in pewter and red. We certainly would have accepted playoff football and a Super Bowl, maybe two? It is time to enjoy the moment for what it is. The last season that Tom Brady plays like an NFL QB.
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