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Saying goodbye to Tom Brady

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I knew this day would come, but not like this.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

I cry every time I see King Kong.

It’s stupid because I know what’s going to happen. I’ve seen the movie (and I’m talking about Peter Jackson’s King Kong which deserves some goddamn respect mind you) at least 30 times and I know Kong is going to blindly follow after Ann Darrow, leaving the world he rules behind for a new, terrifying one that offers threats he can’t conceptualize nor conquer. I know he’s going to rush to the highest point of the city to share a beautiful view one last time before being gunned down for the world to see.

Yet every time I see the life leave Kong’s eyes on top of the Empire State building and his enormous body gently slide off the spire, tumbling to the cold, hard cement below, I cry. Like full blown tears of sadness. Part of it is because I’m a sucker for animal deaths and sacrificing yourself for loved ones, so the two together make an extremely potent cocktail. But mostly it’s because that shouldn’t be how a beast of his power and majesty should go: shot down in a foreign land.

And that gets me.

I say all this because honestly, it’s the best way to describe how I feel about Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots.

This news isn’t a shock. I knew this day was coming.

Sure Brady loves to say he’s going to play forever, but eventually Father Time comes for us all and I knew Brady would hit that proverbial cliff that every aging athlete eventually tumbles off. After all, he’s a 42-year-old quarterback doing things no other player in NFL history has done at his age.

I even knew in the back of my head, no matter how much I tried to convince myself otherwise, there was a real chance Brady wouldn’t be playing in New England in 2020. Hell, I’ve been wildly predicting the retirement of Tom Brady since the Patriots somehow miraculously won Super Bowl LI vs the Falcons. I did it again following the loss to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII and again vs the Rams in Super Bowl LIII. (The Rams win I really wanted him to retire to add beautiful closer to a career that started and ended with a Rams Super Bowl win.)

Brady not playing in New England is not a new thought for me.

Brady not playing in New England because he’s playing elsewhere is.

Brady was supposed to play his entire career with the Patriots and retire as one, after putting forward the greatest single career in NFL history (maybe even adding yet another Super Bowl ring to his collection). He was supposed to be one of the last of the great icons who played their entire career with one team: the Larry Fitzgeralds, the Dan Marinos, the Kobe Bryants, the Tim Duncans. Instead he joins the Joe Montanas, the Ed Reeds, the Patrick Ewings: players whose careers end in a jersey that isn’t right.

I have a pit in my stomach that what comes next is watching the mighty Brady, the eighth wonder of the world, slide off the Empire State building, tumbling to the ground in a land he doesn’t know.

Let’s say Brady does sign with the Buccaneers as many people are expecting. Is that a great landing spot for him? Hell yes. If I were him, I would love to be able to throw the ball to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard. That would be a dream come true. (Little fantasy advice here: if Brady does go to Tampa, buy every ounce of Howard stock you can. You watch and see.) But what if Brady struggles. What if Father Time has finally got him. Do you think the Buccaneers fans will look fondly on that? No and nor should they. They along with the national media take to Twitter and yell about how washed and trash Brady is.

And why do I care? Because if Brady fails elsewhere, I can’t protect him.

I feel ridiculous writing that sentence since I can assure you Tom Brady (nor King Kong) need my protection, but it’s true. I feel like I’ve been protecting him for the vast majority of my life, from pithy things like arguing “greatest of all time” lists to the far more real like Deflategate and tuck rule. I’ve always found myself fighting on the behalf of Brady because that’s my quarterback and that’s what you do. But now that he’s gone, what do I do? Continue defending him? Turn on him? (Lol at that, that is never going to happen.) We’re entering uncharted territory here.

That’s the weird part about all this. Brady has been in my life for 20 out of the 29 years I’ve been alive and has easily been the most consistent figure of my Boston sports fandom. And now with one simple Instagram post, he’s gone. No longer a part of the Boston sports scene. No longer a part of my Sundays. No longer a part of my life. I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet. At the very least, it’s going to take some getting used to.

But before I let myself get used to it, let’s just envelope ourselves one last time in the sheer greatness of Tom Brady and remember what he has accomplished in his career with the Patriots.

Here is a man who went with the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft; who at the time told Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft that he was the “best decision this organization has ever made”; who went on to win three Super Bowls in his first four years; who broke the NFL record for most touchdowns in a single season while helping Randy Moss set the wide receiver record AND going undefeated; who won another three Super Bowls in the second half of his career; who led the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history; who’s won an absurd 77% of his games (regular season and playoffs); who’s played in 13 AFC title game (NFL record); who’s six Super Bowl rings are the most in NFL history; who is the unquestioned greatest quarterback of all time.

Here’s to you Tom Brady. I’m crying.