The Gift of Tom Brady

I have to admit, this does feel different.

No, not seeing Brady win playoff games. That’s normal, it’s embarrassingly normal. 32 playoff wins when the guy in second place – his childhood idol – has just 16? I mean come on.

No, the weird part is seeing him do it in this uniform.

It doesn’t hurt me or anything. I came to terms with Brady’s end in New England before it even happened and am happy for him. I don’t think the Patriots, after 20 years, were in a position to give him the same opportunity Tampa Bay has at this moment. Things were not going to vastly improve for New England after 2019 because they simply did not have enough avenues to improve due to the salary cap and state of the roster. Based on that, combined with Brady about to enter his age-43 season, it was not worth it for him to waste a year.

Sure, he’d still win at least 10 games like always if he stayed, but he wasn’t going to win a title with the Patriots this season. He gave two decades of unparalleled success to the Patriots and wanted to move on. Robert Kraft thought he had earned that right, and I think Bill realized it was time given the state of the team. It’s okay, no one can ever take away how special and historic the Patriots dynasty was.

I do sit back in amazement that of any team in the NFL, he ended up in Tampa Bay.

You have to understand, at least from this Patriots fan’s perspective, how inconsequential the Buccaneers have seemed my entire life.

Sure, they won a Super Bowl in 2002. Jon Gruden was a young, fiery coach who said things that seemed funny to a young football fan. Mike Alstott seemed cool. That was about it.

After their Super Bowl win against the Raiders, they didn’t win another playoff game until 9 days ago. They hadn’t made the playoffs since 2007 – until this season.

They were in the NFC far away from the Patriots, but Brady (and the Patriots) had moments against NFC teams throughout the years. Super Bowls versus the Rams, Giants, Panthers, Eagles, Seahawks and Falcons. The 2007 duel versus the Cowboys. Gronk going off against Washington in 2011. Brady v Rodgers; blowing out the Bears in the snow in 2010; Belichick chirping at Thielen in 2018; the amazing game on Thanksgiving in Detroit in 2010; Brady v Brees, the comeback but just losing to the 49ers in 2012; somehow losing to the Cardinals in 2012.

Tom Brady throws for 303 yards, Patriots hold off Bucs – The Denver Post
Tom Brady’s first – and only – game as a true road opponent against the Bucs came in 2017 (Credit: Denver Post)

But Tampa? He blew them out in London in 2009, and played his only regular season game at Raymond James Stadium in 2017 on Thursday Night.

There was never reason to think of them for 20 years, I’m sure Brady didn’t for a long time. They weren’t as bad as the Browns, Lions, Bills or Raiders, but there were probably the most irrelevant NFL team during the Brady reign in New England.

I really don’t mean to be mean when I say that, but it’s true.

Recently I went down a rabbit hole of the history of QBs with all NFL teams, and who was the top passer for each team since 1970. Almost every team had one QB be their top passer (which likely meant their main starter) for at least 7 seasons; Brady did it for 18 seasons in New England, which is the most of any QB with one team.

The Bucs… they were the only team not to have one QB accomplish it for 7 seasons. They have had 4 QBs each do so for just 5 seasons:

  • Doug Williams (1978-1982)
  • Vinny Testaverde (1988-1992)
  • Trent Dilfer (1995-1999)
  • Jameis Winston (2015-2019)

They might be the team that has had the least luck at QB in NFL history; at least the Browns had Otto Graham and the Lions had Bobby Layne. The Jets had Joe Namath, the Raiders had Jim Plunkett. The Chiefs have Mahomes, the Cardinals have Murray, the Texans have Deshaun Watson (for now).

But now… the Bucs – of all teams – have Tom freaking Brady.

For a team with little history of success, practically no history of consistency, they got their hands on the most consistently successful player in NFL history. They’re experiencing first hand this season what that can mean, and I’m sure they’re loving every second of it.

The G.O.A.T. is one game away from the Super Bowl for the 14th time in his career, but this one has to feel a different kind of special for both him and the team he is now a part of.

It certainly feels different to me, but in a good way.

Credit to image above goes to Brett Duke/Associated Press

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Author: Nick Collins

Boston sports fan sharing his love for sports and perspectives as a fan

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