Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady announced via his social media outlets that he would not be returning to the team in 2020.
Dear Tom Brady,
I woke up to the news yesterday morning that you had made the decision to move on from the New England Patriots organization and are now looking to begin a new chapter in your football life. That new chapter will start with you signing with a new team and dawning a new uniform when the 2020 season kicks off in a few months.
This is a harsh reality that a lot of Patriots fans just can’t seem to wrap their heads around, despite the reports coming out of New England toward the end of 2019 that may have prepared us for this. I certainly did not think that you would be playing for a team other than the New England Patriots this fall.
While members of the Patriots fanbase and the organization itself took the time out of their day to thank you, I wanted to thank you as well for all your contributions to football and the team.
I began watching you when I was nine years old back in 2001, and I remember watching you take the field against the Jets after Drew Bledsoe went down with an injury. From that moment on, football in New England actually meant something — like it did in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Dallas, Green Bay, and New York.
That moment you stepped on the field, football would never be the same, as the 20-year dominance this New England Patriots team had is something that will never again be duplicated … at least not in my lifetime.
I will never forget that snowball game against the Raiders and how the team, led by you, came back from a deficit that would end any other team’s dreams of moving on in the playoffs. You were given a second chance with the “Tuck Rule,” and took that chance and literally ran with it.
Adam Vinatieri won the game and now the Pittsburgh Steelers were next on the list. Even though you were injured early on in the game and Bledsoe was put back in the starting role again, this team made it this far because of you — and they were glad they had you when Super Bowl 36 came around.
To this very day, I still get goosebumps watching replays of that final drive against the St. Louis Rams to bring the first of six championships to New England. This was a moment I would never ever forget — the moment that the fans of New England finally had a team they could be proud of.
The team would go on to win two more Super Bowls, and we were all flying on cloud-nine as this team became a dynasty and joined some of the best teams to ever hit the gridiron. You seemed invincible until February of 2008, when the perfect season was spoiled by the New York Giants.
Heading into the game, we had never experienced a Super Bowl loss with you at the forefront and with Bill Belichick as the head coach. This loss certainly stunned all of us, me included, and the next loss to the Giants in February of 2012 was another stunner.
There were plenty of hard times for us Patriots fans, including watching you go down with a torn ACL at the beginning of the 2008-2009 season. It was scary to watch you go down with that serious injury, as I wasn’t sure you’d come back and return to the dominant form you were at before the injury.
Our hopes and dreams were dashed by the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, and Denver Broncos when the playoffs rolled around in subsequent seasons, yet you handled every loss with class and dignity as your teammates followed suit.
You have been the personification of The Patriot Way for 20 years, and I hate to keep repeating myself, but it is going to be weird seeing you play in another team’s jersey.
Instead of being mad at Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick because they reportedly did not give you the top talent on offense, or being mad at you for not sticking it out until it was time to retire, I say that we all thank you for the memories.
For example, when Deflategate dominated the buildup to Super Bowl 49 — and then you carved up the Seattle Seahawks defense with Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, and Shane Vereen. It was amazing to see the clutch plays throughout the fourth quarter.
I remember where I was when heard the news that you were going to be suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season, and just like Patriots fans everywhere, I was furious. But you handled that with class as well, as you put your family ahead of yourself and decided to take the suspension and serve it.
But you didn’t go away quietly, as you orchestrated the greatest comeback I have ever seen in sports. I was skeptical that the team could come back, but you put them on your back and led them to the fifth championship in franchise history. No one will ever forget that moment for the rest of their lives.
Despite winning your sixth championship two years ago against the Rams, the last few years didn’t go as smoothly as they have in years past.
All in all though, I wont remember you for losing big games, being suspended, or your last game as a Patriot coming in the Wild Card round against a 9-7 Tennessee Titans team — and with your last pass as a Patriot going down as a pick-six.
Instead, I will remember the good times. The 50-touchdown season in 2007, when you shook Brian Urlacher back in 2006, your epic matchups with Peyton Manning, and that AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs in January of 2019. There are many, many more, but I will leave them for other New England Patriots fans to discuss.
I first saw you as a 9-year-old kid in 2001, had the honor of getting your autograph on three different occasions while attending training camp at Gillette Stadium, and witnessed some of the greatest moments in sports history along the way.
Watching you play football in another uniform will be tough, but after what you have done for the New England Patriots organization and their fanbase, you have earned that right.
Good luck wherever you end up (Tampa Bay?), and thank you one more time for all the memories.
Michael Perry, a loyal member of Patriots Nation