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‘I had hoped this day would never come’: Robert Kraft opens up on Tom Brady leaving the Patriots

Related: ‘A lifetime full of fun memories’: Tom Brady shares his thoughts on leaving the Patriots

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Update 3/17/2020: ‘I had hoped this day would never come’: Robert Kraft opens up on Tom Brady leaving the Patriots

Shortly after Brady announced his departure, Robert Kraft shared his thoughts via an official statement:

How do I possibly sum up the depth of my gratitude to Tom Brady for what he’s given us these past 20 years, or the sadness I feel knowing it’s ending? I love Tom like a son and I always will. He has brought so much happiness to me personally and to all of our fans. I had hoped this day would never come, but rather that Tom would end his remarkable career in a Patriots uniform after yet another Super Bowl championship. Unfortunately, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement to allow that dream to become a reality. While sad today, the overwhelming feeling I have is appreciation for his countless contributions to our team and community.

When Tom arrived in New England as an unheralded, sixth-round pick, no one could have imagined the fairytale story that would be written, the records that would be broken or the joy he would bring to an entire region. He leaves 20 years later as the winningest quarterback in NFL history with six Super Bowl victories, nine AFC titles and 17 division championships. He has been an exemplary teammate and leader. There simply will never be another Tom Brady. I now look forward to the day we can bring him back home to New England to celebrate his Patriots career, his endless achievements and his legacy as the greatest of all time. I love him very much.

Original story 3/17/2020: ‘I want him to do what is in his best personal interest’: Robert Kraft opens up on Tom Brady leaving the Patriots

Last summer, the New England Patriots and Tom Brady agreed on a re-worked deal that would give the future Hall of Fame quarterback the option to enter free agency in 2020 and potentially leave the team with which he had been since the 2000 NFL draft. On Tuesday morning, this theoretical idea became a reality when the 42-year-old took to social media to announce his departure from New England after two decades and six championships.

Shortly afterwards, team owner Robert Kraft spoke to ESPN to discuss his long-time quarterback leaving the organization — and the tune was one of respect, according to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss: “Tommy initiated contact last night and came over. We had a positive, respectful discussion. It’s not the way I want it to end, but I want him to do what is in his best personal interest. After 20 years with us, he has earned that right. I love him like a son.”

Brady, who is one of the pillars of the Patriots’ dynasty alongside Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick, will now take his talents elsewhere. While no decision has been made despite the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Chargers reportedly having expressed their interest, we know for sure that his future does no longer lie in New England — and that he will leave Kraft after helping turn his franchise into the most successful of the salary cap era.