Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady penned an interesting essay in The Players’ Tribune about where he’s been and where he’s still going.
In a way, it’s almost — almost — a relief that Tom Brady is no longer a member of the New England Patriots.
Of course it’s still heart-breaking and disappointing and bizarre and all that. It’s also going to be a while before any of us really get a sense of closure on the issue, if that ever happens at all.
But after months of the whole “will he or won’t he leave the Patriots” speculation and countless rumors surrounding his decision in NFL free agency, it’s kind of nice in a small little way that we all now know where the chips have fallen.
There will be some who wish Brady was still a Patriot, and there might be some too who think he’s better off being a Buccaneer at this point. Either way, at least we know where he’s headed and the whole circus surrounding his decision has come to an end.
On Monday, Brady himself wrote an essay about his journey thus far — as well as the journey ahead — that got published in The Players’ Tribune.
It’s a fascinating read (check it out if you haven’t already), especially since it’s written by Brady rather than by a sportswriter citing sources close to Brady who are “familiar” with his thinking.
Most of the attention surrounding the article has been centered on whether or not Brady deliberated tried to slight his former head coach, Bill Belichick, by lumping him in with the general category of players and coaches he’s worked with in the past.
Here’s the excerpt in question:
"But more than any one physical place, it’s the relationships I made in New England that I’ll miss the most. Of course, it starts with the entire New England Patriots organization, and Robert Kraft and the entire Kraft family. It extends to countless other individuals who played such a valuable role in my 20 years as a Patriot. Teammates and coaches, past and present. Old friends, new friends, the neighbors we went trick-or-treating with every year. But mostly, I’ll miss the fans."
Perhaps if Brady hadn’t taken the time to name Robert Kraft and the entire Kraft family specifically, no one would have noticed that he just says “teammates and coaches, past and present” to address Belichick.
Regardless of whether it was an intentional or accidental oversight, there’s so much more to this story than just Brady’s reported “beef” with Belichick, anyway.
In between long sections of Brady waxing poetically about the seasons in New England, it becomes readily apparent that he’s just as hungry today as he’s ever been when it comes to playing football. As if there was any doubt about his intentions to continue playing well into his mid-40s, this essay seems to clear them up pretty convincingly.
"People ask sometimes what motivates me. The answer is simple. I love my sport. I love doing what I do. I want to keep doing it until I don’t want to do it anymore. Playing football isn’t something you can do alone in a backyard either. Football is a team sport, and getting a chance to collaborate with my teammates is a big reason I was drawn to the game in the first place."
The key in that section is the sentence: “I want to keep doing it until I don’t want to do it anymore.” That underscores a general underlying narrative in the essay about new beginnings and Brady’s overall excitement and interest in this next chapter of his life.
It doesn’t sound anything like a player going into his final hurrah or his swan song, let’s just put it that way. If anything, Brady sounds like he’s invigorated by the idea of becoming a mentor to his new young teammates, in much the same way that guys like Drew Bledsoe, Ty Law, and Teddy Bruschi once were mentors to him with the Patriots.
"Here’s another great thing that happens as you get older — you want to see other players succeed. A lot of veteran players were mentors to me during my years as a Patriot. They were there for me when I signed a second contract. They were there for Super Bowl wins, and when I got married. They saw me develop, and grow, and eventually start a family. Along with the opportunity to win championships, the support of older teammates is an amazing part of playing for a team. Doing whatever I can to help younger players evolve as people and players matters a lot to me. I’ve learned so much during my 20 years in New England — and I want to bring those things to a new team."
Brady not only brings his arm talent and his incredible football intelligence to the Buccaneers. He also brings the ability to lead a locker room by example, both on and off the field. He’s the epitome of a team-first guy and a model NFL citizen, and his very presence alone should work wonders for a Tampa Bay culture unaccustomed to winning.
Will Brady be able to turn the Bucs around? Will the Patriots and Bill Belichick be able to survive without him? And just how much longer will Brady continue playing quarterback in the NFL?
These are just a few of the most fascinating questions we have to look forward to as the new season approaches.
As Brady himself says at the end of his essay: “Let’s ride. Let’s see what we got.”