This column was written by Brady Gardner for a BU Journalism class, reflecting on his feelings about Tom Brady leaving the Patriots. Four weeks into the NFL season, Brady shares his perspective.
Superman was here.
He was among us for two decades. He grew with us, protected us, and kept us happy. We were his Metropolis, and he was our superhero.
And then he left.
For New England Patriots fans, Tom Brady was our Superman. He led us to nine Super Bowls, lifting six Lombardi trophies and earning countless accolades for both his team and himself along the way. He was a hero on the field, and we looked up to him as such. No one could compare to Tom Brady, and every feat made us love him more and more.
But now he’s gone. Just like that, his 20-year tenure with the Patriots has given way to a fresh start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady now wears a different jersey for a different team in a different city, and it’s weird. It’s really, really weird. Peanut butter belongs with jelly, sand belongs with the ocean, and Tom Brady belongs with the Patriots!
Brady shouldn’t be in a Buccaneers uniform, but there he is, every pixel of his greatness portrayed in high definition on my TV screen. Every throw reminds me of what used to be and taunts me with what could have been. If he’s still playing, why did he have to go? What made him leave?
As these questions ricochet through my head, I am confronted with an unfortunate reality; one that I am embarrassed, ashamed, and disappointed to admit.
I don’t like Tom Brady anymore.
Maybe that’s an overstatement, I don’t know. I like to think that I’m a Patriots fan first, so when a player leaves my team, I lose interest in them. But this is Tom Brady we’re talking about! There must be an exception, right? For some reason, I can’t excuse him. He’s in Tampa Bay now. He’s with the competition. Tom Brady is just another guy on just another team.
I find myself rooting against my 20-year idol, and I don’t like it. But I can live with myself knowing that my feelings will probably change. Someday Brady will retire, they’ll put a Patriots logo on his Hall of Fame plaque, and this departure will be no more than a footnote. Our hero will return and we’ll celebrate him with the knowledge that his best years were spent with us.
But what if they’re not?
Tom Brady the Buccaneer will never match the accomplishments of Tom Brady the Patriot. He doesn’t have enough time. But what if Brady dominates with his new team and adds another championship ring or two to his collection? Will we have to share our prized quarterback in the NFL history books? Will the site of his primary success still mean the same to him?
It’s this second-guessing that feeds my frustration towards Brady. He is already unanimously viewed as the greatest quarterback of all time, and he has won more than any other player in the history of the game. He could have retired with us and the fairytale would have ended happily ever after. With his decision to leave, the plot thickens and the narrative expands.
For Tom Brady to finally want out after 20 years, something must have gone wrong. There would have been no reason to leave if he was happy, paid fairly, and given an opportunity to win, so one of those conditions must have fallen through. It will take years for anyone around Brady to divulge the true source of his displeasure, but there must have been something there.
I’m sure football fans around the country are enjoying this drama after watching Brady and the Patriots operate with seemingly-flawless execution on and off the field for two decades. From the perspective of a Patriots diehard, though, it’s a rare chink in the armor of the dynasty we have the privilege of supporting. Something went wrong at One Patriot Place? Impossible.
You know what? I think I’ve uncovered my dilemma.
I don’t have a problem with Tom Brady himself; I have a problem with what he represents. He was my favorite player on my favorite team in an era of unprecedented success, and we let him go before he was done. The perfect story will be left incomplete, missing its final chapter that will never be written.
I don’t want to accept this fact, but I have no choice. Maybe every story can’t end perfectly. Maybe Superman won’t always be there to save Metropolis. For 20 years, New Englanders have lived in a comic book where the good guys always end up on top, guided by a superhero who always knew what to do. He’s gone, so what happens now?
The series might end here, but more books will be written.
Who knows? Maybe our next superhero will be here sooner than we expect.