Tom Brady ‘Retiring’ as a New England Patriot is Both a Nice and Horrible Idea
Now that Tom Brady is finally retired (allegedly), the debate about which team he retires with is…still going on??
Welcome to the 21st Century, where few things are accepted as final, and nothing is ever really “over.” We have “alternative facts,” holograms of dead singers, and…the one-day contract.
Allow me to hoist my pants up just a few inches when I tell you that back in my day as a youngster (the '90s), an athlete departing one team for another meant just that: they were gone. If you went to the Yankees, you were now a Yankee. If you left for the Jets, you were now a Jet.
And if you can’t take my word for it, perhaps these gentlemen can convince you:
I know, you're a football fan. You already watch tons of musical theatre.
But an important issue these days is “legacy.” What hat or helmet a player wears into the Hall of Fame. We had the likes of Wade Boggs, who won a World Series with the Yankees doing commentary for the Red Sox and (rightfully, in my opinion) petitioning to have his number retired at Fenway.
After being traded away four years earlier, Paul Pierce made things official by signing a one-day contract with Boston, to “retire” as a member of the Celtics (again, despite having played against them for four seasons).
And now, this scenario has been introduced with regard to Mr. Brady. Though it’s a bit different; while Boggs and Pierce were allowed to walk, Brady chose to leave.
So, we are faced with a once unfathomable question: should Tom Brady be allowed to retire as a Patriot?
THE CASE FOR IT
With all due respect to John Hannah, Steve Grogan, Bill Parcells, and Drew Bledsoe, the Pats were the ugly stepchild of Boston sports history until Tom Brady took over as quarterback. Bill Belichick’s Patriots were bad before Brady took over as a starter, just as they’ve been bad since he departed.
The "GOAT" won six Super Bowl rings for New England. He took a team that almost had to pack up and leave for Hartford to national prominence, making Foxborough a landmark to even casual sports fans.
It was ugly seeing Brady in a Tampa Bay uniform. It was ugly seeing him fade away in another city without getting to walk off the field one last time.
Even after a loss or elimination, you can’t deny the poignance of one last curtain call.
THE CASE AGAINST IT
Simply put: the guy left. He quit. He wasn't traded or released; he walked out.
When a couple gets divorced, you seldom find in their respective wills that they are to be buried side-by-side. Apologies for such morbidity, but Tom Brady won with another team and took every opportunity to subtly rub New England’s noses in it.
So, while it would be nice and peaceful to see Tom back in Robert Kraft’s office, wearing a Patriots jersey and taking the owner up on his offer to sign what amounts to a make-nice “truce”, no thank you.
Again, decisions have consequences. When Kevin McHale butted heads with Coach Chris Ford about playing time, he didn’t demand a trade from the Celtics. He played out his contract. He never won another title, but he never wore another uniform.
And that is why Tom Brady, for all his wonderful achievements in New England, should store them away as what they are: memories. That’s it. We’re grateful. We look forward to Brady stepping onto the field in a suit and seeing his number retired.
Beyond that? It's once again onto Cincinnati (or in the case of next season, Germany).
A lot of players struggle to see eye to eye with their coach in the waning days of their career. Those who leave keep the memories. Those who stay get to finish things out with the team.