2020 has brought forth such chaotic change in just the few short months it has been around. On top of all that has taken place so far, the sports world has been shown no mercy with the relentless 2020 changes. Future NFL Hall of Famer Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. has said his farewell to Foxborough, Mass. after 20 long seasons. According to buccaneers.com, Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on March 20 of this year. This is one of the most historic signings in the history of the NFL. There has time and time again been blockbuster moves throughout the history of the league, such as Peyton Manning leaving the Colts for the Broncos or Brett Favre ending up on the Vikings and facing the Green Bay Packers twice a year, but none have been as monumental as this move.
The only time that a comparable transition has happened in the NFL was the departure of Joe Montana from the San Francisco 49ers to the Kansas City Chiefs. Montana, another of the arguably greatest to play, finished his Hall of Fame career in Kansas City, Mo., after bringing four Super Bowls to Santa Clara, Ca. This shocked the football world, but I personally feel that this is milder than the Brady exit. While Montana is an undisputed icon in Santa Clara, the 49ers had another elite quarterback option in Steve Young, who wowed in the limited playing time he received. Some in the 49ers fan base were ready to move on from Montana due to a high number of injuries sustained in the Hall of Famers career. The Patriots do not boast a quarterback of similar caliber (as far as we know). On top of this, Brady lacks the injury history that Montana did, as Brady has only sat out one full season in 2008 after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the season opener. While Montana is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play, there was a level of certainty about the next man up. The New England Patriots do not boast this same level of comfort and confidence in Tom Brady’s successor.
In Tom Brady’s two decades of football in New England, he has exemplified what excellence is at the quarterback position. According to pro-football-reference.com, Tom Brady has finished his time as a Patriot with 219 wins, as opposed to just 64 career losses. That’s a .774 career winning percentage. Tom Brady could lose every single game for nine seasons straight and still retire with a winning record (and yes, we factored in the new 17-game seasons). While Tom Brady’s winning stats are impressive enough, the six-time Super Bowl champion bolsters incredible passing numbers, with a career passing yards number of 74,571 yards (equivalent to over 42 miles of passing). Alongside his passing yards are 541 passing touchdowns, which sits at second on the all-time passing list, just six touchdowns below the New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees.
This move has been met with much disbelief around the league. Fans from all over have been left shell-shocked that arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game had left his team of 20 years. Many assumed that Tom Brady, being the natural competitor he has always been, would be back with a vengeance after a humiliating loss at the hands of the Tennessee Titans in Gillette Stadium, in which Brady closed with an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Brady is no stranger to crushing defeat. Despite his six championship rings, Brady has also lost three Super Bowls, one of which destroyed an otherwise perfect season. Brady plays best with a chip on his shoulder. After having to sit for four games, Tom Brady lit the league on fire by throwing an NFL record 27-to-2 touchdown/interception ratio. Later that year, after falling behind 28-3 against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, Brady led an astonishing comeback which led to an overtime victory, one of the greatest sporting feats that anyone has ever witnessed or will ever witness again.
All that being said, Brady is no stranger to failure and feeds off of this negativity to wow the crowds with sheer greatness. Due to this “fall seven times, stand up eight” mentality, many expected the legends to don the red, white, and blue for the 2020 NFL season. The storybook ending never came to fruition for Patriots fans as Tom Brady headed down south to Florida. In Tampa Bay, Tom Brady joins an impressive young offense, consisting of two Pro Bowl receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, OJ Howard at tight end, and two young running backs in Ronald Jones II and Peyton Barber. On top of this remarkable offensive unit, the Buccaneers have an incredible run defense, which is complemented by a young secondary with remarkable upside. All in all, Brady surrounded himself with some top-notch weapons, something he was lacking in New England. The four-time Super Bowl MVP has definitely put himself in a position to succeed for 2020 and forward.
As for the Patriots, all is quiet on the Northeastern front. While many are frantic, as it is not every day you have to replace arguably the greatest player to ever put on a helmet, New England certainly hasn’t hit the panic button yet. Barring some unforeseen moves in the NFL Draft, the Patriots are looking in-house for their heir apparent to Tom Brady: Jarrett Stidham. Stidham is the Patriots 2019 fourth-round pick out of Auburn. Stidham has received high praise from many within the Patriots organization, including legendary coach Bill Belichick. Alongside Stidham, the Patriots have added NFL journeyman quarterback Brian Hoyer, who is on his third stint with the organization. No matter who steps under center for the Patriots come 2020, one thing is for sure: you won’t find harder cleats to fill.
Overall, this drama does bring forth much excitement for fans all over, because we are witnessing history, as we usually do with Tom Brady. It will definitely take some getting used to, but this change does create one of the most exciting storylines the NFL has seen in years. Many onlookers will be curious to see how this scene plays out and who deserves the credit for the greatness of the Patriots Dynasty. Will Brady maintain this same level of greatness that he has despite no longer playing for the great Bill Belichick? Will Belichick be able to rise to the occasion without his star quarterback, or will the Patriots be blindsided by something they haven’t seen in over twenty years: mediocrity? While Brady’s success will be under the observant judging of millions, one thing is for certain – greatness cannot be measured in recency but instead must be examined through the watchful eye of Brady’s longevity within one of the most physical sports in the world, dedication to the game and pursuit of excellence within the realm of football, and love of one of the greatest sports on earth. That is why Tom Brady has been, is, and will be one of the best to ever play the game of football.