Did Tom Brady’s departure play a role in Patriots players opting out?
The New England Patriots were dealt some troubling news earlier this week when six players — including respected veterans Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung and Marcus Cannon — announced they were opting out of the upcoming NFL season due to the risks that come with playing amid the ongoing global pandemic.
This has sparked a wave of debates in terms of what triggered their respective decisions. Health and safety is obviously paramount, but you have to think there are underlying circumstances influencing these decisions.
Some have wondered if head coach Bill Belichick is scheming a master plan behind the scenes. Doubtful. What about the team’s culture turning players off? A possibility. What about an obvious one? Did the departure of Tom Brady, who left in free agency, ultimately persuade their judgment?
When you consider the legacy that Brady put together over his two-decade run as the Patriots’ starting quarterback, it would almost be disrespectful to say he didn’t play a role, no? Six championships, nine Super Bowl appearances, 17 AFC East titles, three MVP awards, and 14 Pro Bowl nods is a ridiculous list of accomplishments.
However, all three of Hightower, Chung and Cannon had their personal/health reasons for choosing not to play. Hightower and his fiancee welcomed their first child earlier this month. Cannon was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the 2011 Combine, and is thereby a cancer survivor. As for Chung, he currently has a child on the way and his son has asthma. Not to mention that his father is 75 years old.
You mean to tell us that these veterans would have jeopardized the health and safety of their families if Brady was still around? We don’t care that New England “always has a chance” with No. 12 under center. This is a decision that goes way beyond football.
Not convinced? Well, Chung himself was quick to shoot down this conversation in an unfiltered tweet on Wednesday.
Consider the mic already dropped, but we’ll continue to make our closing argument.
The notion that the Patriots were going to be a mediocre team in 2020 was no longer applicable following the signing of Cam Newton late in the offseason. The excuse that the team wouldn’t have done much winning is a load of nonsense, so Hightower, Chung and Cannon are clearly giving up the opportunity to compete for a championship with their decisions.
As much as Brady accomplished in New England, his departure likely did NOT impact the decisions of his former teammates. Final answer.