There is no excuse for not seeing this coming. When the most accomplished team sports athlete of all time calls the furniture movers to relocate his family from his house on the site of the 2022 US Open to the shores of some manatee-filled canal patrolled by mulletted guys piloting bass boats in faded sleeveless Lynyrd Skynyrd shirts and Stars & Bars shirts, eventually he's going to explain himself. And when said athlete's landlord owns a website where athletes tell their stories in
the words of ghost writers their own words, that's going to be the forum he or she chooses, 100% of the time.
So naturally, that is the case with Tom Brady, who took to Derek Jeter's Player's Tribune to explain why he ditched the franchise that allowed him to flourish for 20 years to the tune of nine Super Bowl appearances and six rings for the team with the lowest winning percentage (.385) in NFL history and whose greatest player ever got arrested for beating up prostitutes in Phoenix as Brady was wrapping up his most impressive Super Bowl victory.
With that said, here are the biggest takeaways from Brady's Player's Tribune article:
Brady sort of goes out of his way to NOT mention Bill Belichick.
The sole mention of his 20 years of working for the greatest coach of all time consists of a story of the first time the two failed to emotionally connect.
When the Patriots drafted me back in 2000, I was 22. I remember I was sitting in my parents’ house in San Mateo, California, growing less and less confident that the phone would ring. But late in the draft it did. By the way, in the sixth round it’s not like Coach Belichick himself was on the other end of the line — I think it was his assistant, Berj. “We just wanted to let you know you’ve been picked by the New England Patriots,” Berj said.
Brady is no cartographer.
I honestly didn’t have a clear idea where New England actually was. Was New England an actual place? …I didn’t know the East Coast at all. It took me a while to find my bearings, not to mention my sense of direction. The fact is, no matter where you live in California, the Pacific Ocean is a straight shot west. It’s almost impossible to get lost.
But on the East Coast, everything was in reverse. The Atlantic was due east, and west meant something else entirely. This is basic stuff to New Englanders, but it took me a little longer than it would most people to get used to.
Brady loves New England.
I almost immediately got acquainted with the beauty and uniqueness of every region in New England, whether I was on Martha’s Vineyard, or Nantucket, or visiting Cape Cod, or in the Berkshires, or driving up to Maine.
It was the first time I’d experienced all four seasons, too. Snow and cold weather I knew about — Michigan winters can be tougher than New England’s, but I was never really there in the summer. In New England I got to fully experience spring (long, muddy), summer (beautiful, a little humid), and fall (my favorite time of year, since it coincides with football season). I grew to associate bare trees and a chill in the air with Halloween, and family gathering at our house for meals and get-togethers with the holidays. I came to love all the seasons — good, bad, hot, cold, leafy, rainy, sunny, snowy and muddy.
Brady loves the Krafts.
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.
Brady loves New Englanders.
But mostly, I’ll miss the fans.
If there’s one thing anyone can say for sure, it’s that New Englanders understand what fandom is all about. New Englanders just really, really love their sports. That’s maybe because compared to New York, or Chicago, or Los Angeles, Boston feels less like a big city than it does a large small town. Even if you don’t know everybody in Boston, you feel like you know everybody. The fans feel like they’re part of our team, and my teammates and I felt the same way about them.
The support and love of New England fans has always been unconditional. So many great moments stand out for me — the packed training camps, the victory parades, the tens of thousands of supporters who came to see us off at the airport each time we boarded the plane for the Super Bowl. Win or lose, the same number of people would be there to greet our plane when we came home. Gillette Stadium holds around 70,000 people, and I’ve never not played in a sold-out stadium during my career as a Patriot. How fortunate am I?
“Tomm-eeee! Tomm-eee!” I would hear that echoing through the stands, and it always meant so much to me. The support sometimes went deeper than that. Recently a friend told me that her sister was pregnant with her first child, a boy — and that she planned on naming him Brady. She was telling me this, she said, so that I’d realize the impact my playing for New England had had on so many people’s lives.
I'm going to have to pause here for a few minutes to regain my composure. As someone who was born in that town. Who raised two kids in Pats No. 12 jerseys in the packed stands of those training camp practices. Who has been one of those 70,000 and who would've named a child "Brady" if I foolishly hadn't gotten myself fixed before the Snow Bowl game.
Brady went to Tampa because he's seeking extra motivation.
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. …
Playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a change, a challenge, an opportunity to lead and collaborate, and also to be seen and heard.
Brady is all about the relationships.
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.
It still bites major ass that he is gone and somehow an impossible 20 years of unparalleled success is somehow still not enough. But in time, knowing that #Braxit was, in the end, all about change and new challenges will help with the acceptance. In the long run, what will matter are the important things like the success, the connection to the people of New England, the winning, the relationships, the victorious moments, the Duckboat parades and all the championships.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to keep rereading this article, watching his latest video and drinking away my quarantined sadness.