New England Patriots

TAMPA, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 09: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reacts after a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium on September 09, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit off the bat here that I am one of these people who took great offense to the notion that I just had to root for Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win a championship last season.

First of all, mind your own business. I dislike almost everything. Why am I going to change now? Progress is for people with hope and baby, do I have some bad news. But secondly, when it comes to football, I root for the New England Patriots and my fantasy team, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Bortles, to win a title. That’s it. End of list.

Saying that didn’t mean that I did not appreciate Brady and his obvious, undeniable, and continued greatness. It’s just that he was no longer on the team I want to see succeed, so I didn’t care, nor did I feel this undying need to see him deliver a different city than the one we call our own a championship. As a city with nice weather for about 45 days a year, football dominance was like, our only thing ahead of new mixed-use properties that all look and feel the same. After all, this is the place that Brady himself “wouldn’t be caught dead living in anymore.” There’s some things in life I simply don’t feel the need to share with the rest of the class, and Brady ruining the field while we laughed and counted the rings was absolutely one of them.

That said, I still watched the Bucs in 2020. I mean, how could you not? The thoroughly exhausting Brady vs. Bill narrative was on our minds while they were together, and we were finally given the chance to see it play out on opposite sides.

But it did hit a point where the natural ‘good for him’ turned to witnessing a bunch of ex-lovers root for their supermodel ex to not just find happiness, but get married and have children right in front of you while you doom-scrolled Tinder looking for some sort of joy that you knew wouldn’t come. A little uncomfortable, not gonna lie.

And I gotta ask, do we still care?

Brady has proven that he can do it without Bill and the Patriots. He also got Rob Gronkowski back after realizing wrestling was probably worse for his back than football. He even got Antonio Brown to put his phone down and stop throwing furniture out windows and phallic-shaped gummies at police long enough for him to be a borderline hidden weapon on a team that honestly didn’t need more. The latter proved to be too big an ask during Brown’s 11-day Foxborough stint in 2019.

There’s no mystery here anymore. The intrigue and wonder of Brady’s ceiling without Belichick lasted all of one season. And I’m not sure the story is appealing enough on its own to warrant another full season of wire-to-wire Bucs viewings.

The Bucs are an obvious juggernaut. Mike McCarthy being Mike McCarthy aside, you knew that the Cowboys left too much time on the clock last night. Leaving Brady 84 seconds was like leaving him an entire game, and everybody with even a slight recollection of Brady’s resume knew it. Brady, predictably, made it look easy. Even on a night where his teammates did his best to frying pan-hand the game away, Brady left little no doubt when it mattered most. He even appeared to shake off a Byron Leftwich suggestion during the game-winning drive, because of course he did.

He’s the legend of all legends, and anybody still trying to deny it is weirder than those bringing a sign and cheering ‘con-su-mmate’ at their ex’s new man.

Barring insurmountable self-sabotage, the Bucs will waltz to a conference final. The projected favorites tasked with denying them include a Packers team led by a quarterback who is likely counting down the days until he’s freed and a Rams club hoping the Detroit stink on Matthew Stafford wears off in time to push them over the top before cap hell comes for their souls. From there you’re looking at the Chiefs (been there, done that) or the Bills as the early favorites you’ll ask to stop ’em.

We just saw this. So if and when they get there again, great, count me in as a viewer because I am a slave to this product no matter its quality.

But I gotta admit, that kind of predictability doesn’t have the same allure when it involves a team I’ve never cared about. (And we will always acknowledge the Rt. 1 ship as the superior novelty, true to scale shipping vessel in this here apartment.)

In the meantime, the Patriots? Oh, man, the Patriots.

In case spending a quarter of a billion dollars to make up for last year’s borderline unwatchable nightmare wasn’t enough to get your eyes back towards Patriot Place, they’re already handing the keys of the franchise to their 23-year-old top pick. They’ve acknowledged their missteps with some reflection and self-care moves, and are ready to make new memories with a new suitor.

It’s time we do the same.

Actually, to borrow a phrase from another camp, we simply have to.

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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.