Thank You Tom Brady

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This one hurts.

This is not how it was supposed to end.  I guess the writing has been on the wall these past few months, but I, like many, refused to acknowledge it.  Tom Brady suiting up for any team other than the New England Patriots feels criminal.  In the end, this magical ride and relationship has finished.

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press
It was just time.  Time for this to end.  Time for both parties to go their separate ways.  I guess no side is really at fault.  While I'm sure their personal relationship will be unaffected, I think the working relationship between Brady and Bill Belichick had reached its tipping point.

Brady wanted a little more in terms of appreciation from Belichick for all that he has done for this organization over the past 20 years.  While Belichick certainly appreciates Brady and acknowledges what he has meant to the Patriots, he treated Brady just like everybody else while he was here.  After 20 years, that likely wore Brady down, and when Bill treated him like he would with any other free-agent-to-be, it put him over the edge.

That's part of what made the Patriots so great these past two decades.  They built this culture of nobody is bigger than the team, a culture that Brady was instrumental in creating.  Whether you're Brady, or the third string offensive tackle, everybody has a job to do and they are all important.

Well, the fact is Brady is not like everybody else in that locker room.  He is more important than everybody else.  I think he just wanted a bit of an acknowledgement of that fact.

Whether or not it's the right decision is an argument for another day.  Today is about remembering and thanking Brady.

It's a tough thing to accept.  As a fan, you never thought it was possible.  You saw Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizards jersey.  Joe Montana in a Kansas City Chiefs jersey.  We dismissed the idea of Brady with anything other than the flying Elvis on his helmet.  Alas, here we sit.

This team has had some difficult goodbyes in the past: Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Willie McGinest, Adam Vinatieri to name a few.  Guys that were integral parts of Super Bowl championships.  However, as the roster turned over, the Patriots always had one constant: #12.  As long as he was under center, this team had a chance.

The motto of "In Bill We Trust" was this region's rallying cry; boosted by the fact that we knew Brady was going to be under center.  Now, the "In Bill We Trust" mantra will be put to the ultimate test.

Brady's stats and accolades speak for themselves.  A Patriot for 20 seasons, he was the full-time starter for 18; he played just 1 game in his rookie season and his 2008 season ended on Opening Day.

The Patriots made the playoffs in 17 of those 18 seasons.  Brady hasn't missed the playoffs since the 2002-2003 season.  They appeared in the Conference Championship in 13 of those seasons.  They appeared in the Super Bowl in half of those seasons.  HALF.  This run of success was unprecedented, and will likely be unmatched.
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January and February became part of the football calendar around here.  The regular season felt like a formality.  The postseason was expected.  Brady spoiled fans, to the point where a large faction of Pats fans became insufferable.

Brady was special.  Drafted with the 199th pick in 2000, he was always motivated by those who doubted him.  Even as he was becoming, and became the best to ever do it, he still worked like he had something to prove.  That's what endeared him to fans.  He never got complacent.  Nothing was ever good enough.

He was the perfect teammate.  Yes, he had occasional sideline outbursts mid-game, when his frustrations boiled over; but he never publicly called out, or singled out any of his teammates.  Win or lose, he was the ultimate team guy.  The amount of times Brady used the word "I" in a post-victory press conference can probably be counted on one hand.

On the field, he orchestrated numerous fourth-quarter comebacks, left fans with lasting memories, and that was even before Super Bowl LI.  He struck fear into opposing team's, and fan's, hearts.  He forced coaches into making questionable decisions late in games.

He defied the odds time and time again.  This run should have ended six years ago in 2014.  Jimmy Garoppolo was waiting in the wings, and Belichick was ready to move on.  Brady wasn't.  He proceeded to bring the team to four more Super Bowls, winning three.

Off the field, he galvanized an entire region.  As moronic fans across the country labeled Brady a "system QB", or spewed an ounce of negativity towards Brady, Pats nation banded together and went on the attack.  No other athlete in this region has done that.  Things turned into the Patriots vs. everybody else.  Thirty-one fan bases found themselves rooting for whoever played the Patriots.

As a season ticket holder, Brady has created so many lasting memories between me and my family.  He helped bring so much happiness and joy to this region, but he did more than help win six Super Bowl championships.  He helped make the Patriots relevant and respectable.

As somebody who was born in 1990, I've only read about the old days, but from what I gather it wasn't pretty.  The team was so pathetic that people from the area chose to bring their fanhood elsewhere.  Brady helped change all of that.

I have so much more I could say, so many moments I could highlight but those are for another time.

All I want to say now is thank you.

Brady is a New England icon.  There will never be another one like him.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Thank You Tom Brady
Thank You Tom Brady
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