Message to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization: Your fifteen minutes are officially up.
After 22 years, seven Vinces and numerous NFL regular and postseason records, Tom Brady will walk away from an NFL career that places him at the top of any all-time quarterback list, and several all-time overall player lists. What turned out to be speculation on Saturday became reality Tuesday morning. Brady is really retiring. It has finally happened.
In New England, hearts are warm and happy. It’s time to bring Brady back. Not physically, but emotionally. His dalliance with Tampa Bay is now the biggest footnote in NFL history. Brady is a Patriot, and will be one forevermore, never again to be shared with any other franchise.
Find your music listening device and crank out Beautiful Day by U2, part of the greatest Super Bowl halftime show ever (XXXVI). Follow that with For Those About To Rock by AC/DC. Feel exhilarated as you hear Brian Johnson scream out those high F-sharps. Any other song that reminds you of the Patriots, let it rip. For those few of you who also hold a degree from Michigan, a rousing chorus of Hail To The Victors might be in order as well.
The official record will show that Brady played two seasons in Tampa, won one Super Bowl championship, went 5-1 in the postseason, and nearly made real his dream to play until he was 45.
But the official record will also show that he played 20 seasons in Foxborough and accomplished many things that nobody will ever do again. Cy Young won over 500 games. Wilt Chamberlain once scored 100 points in an NBA game. Things like that, only Brady did that in droves.
Let the number crunchers do their thing. What you the fan should be most happy about is that you can now reclaim him. You never have to see him wear another team’s uniform. Can any of you remember Joe Montana as a Kansas City Chief? How does Indianapolis feel about Peyton Manning winning Super Bowl 50 as a Denver Bronco? Aaron Rodgers will probably not finish his career in Green Bay. Let’s see how well that sits with Packer Nation.
Brady is the most generational of all generational talents. Just a few days ago, David Ortiz was elected to the Baseball Hall Of Fame. New England loves Big Papi. But Brady transcends Ortiz. Papi was honored the other day and everyone stood up and cheered. The cheers for Brady will be louder, longer and much more impassioned. Ortiz has his place in Boston sports history. Brady simply has a bigger one.
Often times, the Mount Rushmore metaphor is used when talking about greatest athletes or coaches in a team or league history. Brady is someone who would be in the conversation of the NFL players’ version of Mount Rushmore. As for Boston/New England sports, that’s a more feasible discussion for right now.
The Bruins are the second easiest. It’s Bobby Orr, hands down. He turns 74 years old in March, only the older fans can say they saw him play, and he is still the best defenseman in NHL history. Oh by the way, he ended his career with the Chicago Blackhawks. Anyone as old as I am remember any of his time with Chicago? Orr is a Bruin and nothing else. His time in Chicago is not worth mentioning, especially around these parts.
The Celtics are a little dicey. You have those who support Bill Russell and those who support Larry Bird. Russell won 11 titles in 13 seasons (all of which predate this writer actually watching the Celtics). Bird won three titles in 13 seasons. Bird was the most dynamic offensive player in team history. Russell was the most dynamic defensive player in team history. Russell and Bird both coached and coached well, but Russell won two titles as a player-coach here in Boston, while Bird coached the Indiana Pacers to no titles. Russell gets the nod here, but Bird is no less beloved.
And then there’s the Red Sox. Ortiz is the top Sox dog of today. In my youth, it was Carl Yastrzemski. In my parents’ younger days it was Ted Williams. Ortiz accomplished a lot more than either of these two distinguished gentlemen. It really comes down to Ted versus Papi. I was in diapers when Williams retired. But I still pick Ted. He is still the greatest player in Red Sox history. Ortiz may be the most important. But you still have to stick with Number 9.
Brady is the biggest slam dunk of all, a bigger one than Orr. One question I would love to pose to Patriot fans is “Who is the second greatest Patriot in history?” Many of today’s fans would probably say Rob Gronkowski. Knowledgeable scholars of the Patriots should say John Hannah. Never mind who’s the greatest. Don’t insult our intelligence.
What’s left is to see how Brady gets honored here in New England. A halftime of a regular season game isn’t enough. He will get a red jacket and a gold jacket someday, as well as a bust. But those jackets and the bust are ceremonial, and a foregone conclusion. To honor Brady with a “ceremony” is almost impossible to fathom. What Brady deserves is his own Duck Boat parade.
Brady may possibly go down as the greatest of the greatest here in this region. What all of us hope is that Brady doesn’t harbor any acrimony with either Bob Kraft or Bill Belichick when he left town two years ago. After he has had lots of quality time with his wife Gisele Bundchen and his family, and his parents and sisters as well, he should come back here and let the fans of New England scream their lungs out for the greatest athlete they have ever seen or will ever see in their lifetimes.
You can sit down and think about all the greatest local athletes you have seen over the years. If you can find one greater than Brady, go ahead and try and state your case. Younger folks have seen a lot of prosperity around here since 2001. We older folks are the ones who remember curses and biblical losses. You can say that you saw the Boston Patriots play, and that you agree that Hannah is number two. You can say you saw Ted, Yaz, Russ, Bobby and Larry. But you still have to agree that they all look up to TB12.
Bring him back here. He needs to hear it from the fans. He needs to know his place here. He’s from San Mateo, California. He went to college in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He ended his career in Tampa, Florida. His real home is here. The fans need to let him know that, and that he is one of ours and no one else’s.
The greatest NFL career is now at an end. You felt the earth shake just a little bit this morning. Tom Brady has finally decided to end his career. What he left New England with was a gift that can never be repaid. Long as you live, never forget what he did and what you saw. It will never be seen or ever happen again.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary