END of an All-Time Great Era in Professional Sports
Former Patriots QB Tom Brady standing on the sideline during a game (photo credit to NBC Boston)
Tom Brady’s departure from New England marks the end of what some consider the greatest era of all-time in professional sports.
With the 199th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots selected a quarterback out of Michigan named Tom Brady. At the time, no one thought of Brady really at all. He was a late round pick, a fourth-string Quarterback in his rookie year.
No one really knew what to make of Brady. Not Drew Bledsoe, not Patriot fans, not Bill Belichick, not even Patriots owner Robert Kraft. However, Brady always carried himself with a chip on his shoulder as he bluntly told Kraft that he was the best decision this team has ever made.
At the time, you could laugh at that because no one would expect a sixth round pick to stick around as long as Brady did.
In his second NFL season, Brady earned the back-up role to Bledsoe, Brady’s work ethic paid off and thrown into the fire after Bledsoe went down with an injury. At the time, Pats fans probably thought it was going to be another lost season. Well, the Patriots ended up losing that Week three game against the Jets, but the following week was when the Brady era, truly began.
To summarize the rest of the 2001 season, the Patriots lost just twice down the stretch. Going 14-2 including a Super Bowl XXXVI win, which was the franchise’s first ever Lombardi Trophy.
18 years later, after eight more Super Bowl appearances, five more titles, and three NFL MVP Awards to his name, the Tom Brady chapter was over in New England and now the franchise enters a new era.
It was on the morning of Tuesday March 17th, 2020 via Twitter, Brady announced that he would not return to New England and would become an unrestricted free agent for the first time.
Just one day later, Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed in principle to a two-year $50 Million deal. All $50 million is fully guaranteed along with an additional nine million bucks in incentives ($4.5 per season). The contract also prohibits the Buccaneers from either trading, releasing or putting on either the franchise or transition tag on Brady. Meaning, not only are the Buccaneers stuck with Brady for two seasons, but Brady will get to decide where he will play after the two seasons. By then Brady will be 44 going on 45, but we’ll cross that road once we get there.
Brady gives something that the Buccaneers and their fans haven’t had in quite a while. A true chance to compete and contend for a Super Bowl, and some stability at the quarterback position.
Brady is entering a better situation offensively as there some notable names such as Mike Evans, O.J. Howard and Chris Goodwin to name a couple. Sizable receivers is something that Brady has lacked in recent seasons with the Patriots.
You make the case that Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski have been Brady’s favorite targets for just about the last seven years or so, which is true but the last super-star wide out that Brady worked with was Randy Moss from 2007-2010.
The Buccaneers went 7-9 last season, seven of their nine defeats resulted in them losing by a single possession. The constant result was because of a Jameis Winston interception. Last season Winston threw 30 interceptions, seven them got returned for touchdowns.
Meanwhile Brady only threw eight interceptions last season. Brady has thrown no more than 14 Interceptions in a season throughout his entire career.
Here’s what the Buccaneers are getting in comparison. In Brady’s first 20 years of his career (18 of them as the starter), Brady has thrown for a total of 179 interceptions. Through his first five seasons as an NFL starter (2001-2005) Brady threw only 66 interceptions. Winston, who has been in the league for five seasons, as already thrown 88 career interceptions, that’s 22 more than Brady threw.
So the Buccaneers will be getting more consist play from the Quarterback position with Brady at the helm as Brady has proven time and time again throughout his career that he is one of the most reliable and clutch players to ever play the game.
Certainly this isn’t how anyone envisioned Brady’s Patriots career to end. The entire fan base including owner Robert Kraft. They were hoping Brady would re-sign for what will most likely be the final two or three years of his career and retire a Patriot, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. All Patriots fans can do is remember the good times with Brady and wish him luck as he begins a new chapter in his NFL career.