The show must go on in New England, even without Tom Brady. The Patriots’ legendary quarterback, of course, decided to leave the organization with which he won six Super Bowls last month in order to embark on a new journey and sign a free agency deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite him likely ending his career elsewhere, however, his legacy in New England (and pro football in general) has already been manifested a long time ago.
Still, the 42-year-old moving on signals the end of an era for the Patriots. But while both parties will therefore have to look forward and prepare for the 2020 season without each other, Brady took another last look back this week when he shared his thoughts on the team he led for the past two decades and the fanbase he helped excite and grow far beyond the New England region. For one, he posted this video on his social media channels:
My journey over the past 20 years in New England has been amazing. It’s been a long road, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. The support and love of New England fans has always been unconditional. Thank you, Pats Nation #TheOnlyWayIsThrough https://t.co/Vl2Hx6k4Gc pic.twitter.com/KyF4wMIRTc— @tombrady (@TomBrady) April 6, 2020
Brady also published an article in The Players Tribune titled The Only Way Is Through, in which he shared his thoughts on change and his time and personal growth while with the Patriots. The future Hall of Famer, who originally joined the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick by the team in 2000 and went on to become the most successful player the league has ever seen, wrote that change would be inevitable for every person and athlete.
He also shared his admiration for his time in New England, not just as part of the regional fabric but also on a more personal level and through the relationships he made over the past 20 years:
[M]ore than any one physical place, it’s the relationships I made in New England that I’ll miss the most. Of course, it starts with the entire New England Patriots organization, and Robert Kraft and the entire Kraft family. It extends to countless other individuals who played such a valuable role in my 20 years as a Patriot. Teammates and coaches, past and present. Old friends, new friends, the neighbors we went trick-or-treating with every year.
Brady also opened up about the support he and his Patriots teams have received from the fans, calling it “unconditional” and stating that New Englanders would “understand what fandom is all about.” He shared anecdotes from the stands cheering his name to fans opting to name their babies Brady in honor of him, but pointed out that there would be numerous moments that have stood out over the years:
So many great moments stand out for me — the packed training camps, the victory parades, the tens of thousands of supporters who came to see us off at the airport each time we boarded the plane for the Super Bowl. Win or lose, the same number of people would be there to greet our plane when we came home. Gillette Stadium holds around 70,000 people, and I’ve never not played in a sold-out stadium during my career as a Patriot. How fortunate am I?
Brady, who signed a two-year contract with the Buccaneers in mid-March, also relayed his thoughts on changing teams this late in his career. At least according to his own account, the underlying idea behind moving on from the Patriots was challenging himself even at his comparatively advanced age and exploring new territories: “If I don’t go for it, I’ll never know what I could have accomplished,” he wrote.