Something's Rotten in New England
by Jay Jones
My parents always used to say, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” That could not be more true with respect to the Shakespearean tragedy unfolding for the New England Patriots team, organization, and fan base. While many fans will take sides, truly both Brady and the Belichick, Kraft led organization are all to blame.
After reading an excellent article by former colleague in New England sports media, Tom Curran, I realized why I left the Gillette Stadium sideline in 2003 carrying a camera and microphone to channel my energy into my passion for competition through coaching and making a difference. Professional sports continues to be contract-centric, and this is why the tragedy will unfold today seeing Tom Brady sign with another team.
According to Tom Curran’s article, “Why did Tom Brady walk away from Patriots, Bill Belichick after 20 years?” for NBC Sports Boston, the Patriots basically left Brady without a choice. Curran remains objective, professional, and is a great writer. However, he would not have written this story this way given the choice, none of us would.
The greatest owner, coach, and player in professional sports history will always be remembered for this divorce. The historic run of six Super Bowls will now be clouded by this ego, entitlement, and greed, rather than the sun shining on the passion, work-ethic, and strategy, which brought so much pride and enjoyment to New England.
First let’s explore the principle that permeated success for the blue, red, and silver. It is not news to anyone that the Patriots’ success relied upon stringent salary cap management. In order to maintain the consistent breadth of winning in a balanced league, most of us would agree that managing the cap and not soaking talented free agents with amounts that could strip the organization of considerable financial resources works.
However, when one contemplates the fact that no offer was on the table for, according to Belichick, “the greatest quarterback of all-time,” one has to wonder why would the organization simply assume he was coming back and just match an offer? The Patriots failed here.
The contract needed to be dealt with proactively, professionally, and fairly for the market. Even if the salary cap vs. player need evaluations were slightly off in this case due to age, Brady is certainly a case for an exception, and there is significant proof that his experience, leadership, and work-ethic alone deserved significant consideration.
Flip the coin now, Brady renegotiated in the fall of 19 gaining a 13.5 million dollar raise (yes, that’s just the raise) and a one-year deal vying for free-agency. According to several reports, this 13.5 million became “dead money” in salary cap language for the Patriots for 2020, which is bad business, but they did it anyway.
Brady’s great-grandchildren and beyond will be set for life, so is it really about the extra money, “respect”, or was his agent Don Yee pushing buttons to gain the most he can while representing Brady? Either way, it leaves a rotten lasting impression. There were reports that the organization was waiting for terms on the new Collecting Bargaining Agreement; was the Brady camp too impatient? According to Curran, Kraft expected to work things out, but Brady had already checked out.
This is such a poor example for our youth, as business got in the way of the dream. The story book will end in tragedy unless Brady gets on a plane back to New England and gets to work on a two-year deal. It’s NOT going to happen, but someone should have put an end to the cold war two months ago and found the three of them at the 50 yard line working on making it right instead of Brady remaining in one end zone and Belichick/Kraft in another. These three men failed us. They each needed a good wake up smack in the back of the noggin, and got together on this.
I would have rather the Pats lose a few close games for the next two years while Brady rode off into the sunset. Winning is great, but doing the RIGHT thing is MORE IMPORTANT. Loyalty should be one the values that our kids learn from this 20 year run. Now Brady will emulate his hero Montana by awkwardly donning a new uniform, just shameful to all parties. Our youth will get the message that money and contracts matter more, and this is from our ultimate exemplar Tom Brady. Instead of being remembered like Bird, Russell, Yaz and Williams, Brady will shamefully be remembered last by his Tampa Bay Buccaneer uniform.