On Tom Brady’s Instagram page, before you even got to his statement today, you were greeted by a video featuring two big, bold words: SHOP NOW. That was the portal into Brady’s farewell from football, the end of an incomparable career and needlessly protracted drama and the start of the continuance of the Brady brand.
But then, that’s what Brady’s stay was here at the end – one drama after the next. He didn’t want Jimmy Garoppolo here. He skipped OTAs. He didn’t get his pass-catchers or his contract. Maybe that’s why Brady’s farewell to football included no mention of the Patriots, the city of Boston, the region of New England, the owner of the Patriots or coach of the team (Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick) – or of you, the fans who showered him with well-earned adulation. Brady seemingly thanked everyone in Tampa from the janitors to the beachcombers, but he somehow couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge Robert or Bill, let along Bob from Easton.
I know, I know … he said goodbye two years ago. But this is different. This was his farewell to football. Brady mentioned even his agents and his alma mater, the University of Michigan, but he couldn’t bring himself to mention the people or place that launched his career, that gave him the footing for the greatest career in NFL history.
Know what this was?
And it is all further evidence that the doubt is what always fueled Brady, even when it came from those who once believed in him most. He took the end personally here. And he still does.
Let’s be clear here: Brady probably had a right to be mad, certainly had a right to script his own end. From the Patriots and from Kraft, that is what he wanted most. Kraft graciously gave him that when he agreed the Patriots would not use the franchise tag to keep Brady in New England beyond the end of the player’s last contract with the team, a decision the team is still paying for. In two years with the Bucs, Brady went 29-10, including 5-1 in the postseason, winning another Super Bowl. He threw 96 touchdown passes. The Patriots meanwhile went 17-17 with Cam Newton and Mac Jones, the former of whom is cashed and the second of whom is now learning to crawl.
The breakup, like Brady’s last year or two in New England, was bitter. Brady’s father called 98.5 The Sports Hub and talked trash. Brady’s Instagram posts featured a serious of cryptic photos and messages. His actual interviews were conducted almost entirely between the lines. Brady eventually came back to Foxboro as a member of the Bucs and Bill Belichick visited the Tampa locker room following another Brady victory, the two seemingly bringing closure to what was Boston’s latest star-studded sports feud.
Then came yesterday, when Brady opened it all back up again at a time he could have prevented it all with a simple sequence like the following:
Thanks again to all the people of New England, including owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick, as well as Patriots teammates and fans for a journey I never could have predicted or expected, no matter how optimistic. I thanked you two years ago but I want and need to thank you again now. I will see you all again sometime soon.
Instead, you literally got nothing.
For those defending Brady today, don’t be ridiculous. Brady always has been image conscious and he has a team of advisors who scrutinize every message he posts. In erasing his Patriots years, he either knew exactly what he was doing or he was stupid beyond belief. Either is entirely possible. Regardless, the takeaway should bring you to the same place, whether you’re Kraft or Belichick or a season-ticket holder who trudged up and down Route 1 for the better part of this millennium.
He didn’t care enough to mention you.
Or he ignored you just to piss you off.
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