Forever a Patriot

Tom Brady leaves New England with an unmatched legacy

Xavier Cullen, Staff Writer

For as long as I’ve been alive, Tom Brady has been a Patriot. Brady made his first start for the New England Patriots on September 30, 2001. One day later, I was born.

That makes today’s news even harder for me. Everyone knew it was going to eventually happen, but that doesn’t make the truth any easier to swallow.

On Tuesday, March 17, Brady officially announced that he will not return to the New England Patriots after 20 years with the team.

I’m speechless. I can’t imagine Brady on any other team, but that’s the harsh reality that his fans are going to have to cope with. Seeing him in another jersey will be rough.

He has turned the Patriots into a symbol of success and fame after winning six Super Bowls in two decades, tying only the Pittsburgh Steelers for most championships by an NFL franchise. 

Nobody has ever been as consistently great as Brady. He’s never had a losing season and has been to the Super Bowl nine times.

Name any playoff record, he’s beaten it. Most playoff games started, most touchdown passes, most passing yards, most division titles won, most conference championships won and most game-winning drives are all amazing feats that no other quarterback will be able to top.

His amazing comebacks highlight his career, but none were more legendary than the game that can be summed up in just two numbers: 28-3. 

Only Brady could have erased a 25-point deficit with just 23 minutes left in the Super Bowl, and he did, securing arguably the greatest comeback in NFL history against the Atlanta Falcons. This cemented his legacy as the most clutch player in all of sports history. 

But Brady’s legacy as the “Comeback Kid” didn’t start in New England.

When Brady first enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1995, he was seventh on the quarterback depth chart. He struggled to cope with the frustration and anxiety of trying to prove himself worthy of starting and considered transferring to California — his home state.

After winning the starting position in 1998, he had to fight even harder the next year against the newly recruited Drew Henson, who was called a “can’t miss” prospect by college scouts. The two quarterbacks split snaps, and it took Brady throwing over 300 yards against Illinois to secure the starting job again.

He led the Wolverines to a 20-5 record in his time at Michigan and was selected in the sixth round with the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.

There were 198 other players taken before Brady, including six quarterbacks. Those quarterbacks combined for 44,401 passing yards, 246 touchdowns and 179 interceptions. Brady has thrown for 74,571 yards, 541 TDs and 179 interceptions, according to Pro Football Reference.

He is the only player from his draft class who is still playing today.

His stats are insane, but just talking about the numbers would be a slight against what he means to the people of New England.

Brady has given me some of the greatest memories of my life, whether it be the comeback against the Falcons or his battles against rival quarterback Peyton Manning. He has also been there for the most heartbreaking times, like David Tyree’s helmet catch or his final pass as a Patriot being intercepted by the Tennessee Titans this past postseason.

You can’t go a single conversation with a person from Massachusetts without them mentioning Brady, he means that much to us. Even Brady’s haters have to admit that what he has done for the game of football, and the world as a whole, is immeasurable. Nobody can take that away from him.

His electrifying personality gave everyone hope that anything was possible, even when the situation looked grim. He energized his teammates to fight with heart and passion, and he never gave up.

The people of Boston would not have been the same had Brady not come into our lives — he made this city what it is today. Boston is called “Titletown” because of the dynasty that he created and the rings that the team won under his reign. Seeing him on those duck boats was like watching a king on his throne.

He has given us so much that just saying “thank you” isn’t enough, but it’s the best I can do while I’m still in shock, and I know he understands everyone’s sorrow.

From being the seventh string at Michigan to the greatest of all time in New England, there has never been, and never will be, a quarterback like Tom Brady. He will forever be a Patriot.

Thank you for the memories, Tom.