First off, I’d like to congratulate former 3-time Super Bowl Champion (with the Patriots) Mike Vrabel on calling an absolutely incredible game in Foxboro last night. Credit where credits due, the Titans showed up and played tough as nails for 60 minutes and it was due to the preparation of their coach.
But the rest of this article isn’t about the Titans. This is about the apparent end of the greatest dynasty in NFL history. The Brady-Belichick-Kraft Patriots.
I was starting to truly believe I’d never see it end, and as long as Bill Belichick is at the helm of coaching and the Krafts have control over the organization, I may never have to suffer like my father did when he was a kid rooting for the Pats. I remember being a kid seeing Drew Bledsoe play a few games, but I was too young to truly understand what was happening. I knew it was good when the Pats scored and bad when the other team did and that was about it. But then as the game made more sense to me, the greatest quarterback of all time emerged from the 4th string and led me, our region, and the league, on the most dominant run that has ever been and ever will be seen in the history of the game.
And that’s the important thing to remember. They were so dominant, that every NFL fan base is cheering right now at the Patriots loss like a third world country having it’s dictator overthrown. The Patriots losses were more fulfilling to the rest of the NFL than their own teams successes. Fans would rather see Tom Brady upset in defeat than their quarterback smile in victory. That’s just as satisfying for Patriots fans as it is for the people that think they’re clever for all the same jokes against the organization that has caused so much frustration on their Sundays.
I was frustrated last night. I won’t lie. I didn’t want and wasn’t ready for it to be the end. And it may not be the end of the Patriots, but it is, most likely, the end of Tom Brady in a Patriots uniform. Which is also the end of the only era I truly know. The end of an era that bonded me to some of the best friends I’ve ever had. The end of an era that bonded me with my father and uncles. The end of an era that brought all my family together on Sunday nights(because the Patriots play in primetime a lot, because they were so dominant for TWENTY years). Never seeing anyone wear #12 in a Patriots uniform again will be weird. It’s the end. It’s over. But let’s not forget who actually ended the Patriots. The Patriots.
Not only was it former Patriot, Mike Vrabel, who coached an incredible game against the Pats; it was also Logan Ryan, a former Patriot Super Bowl winning cornerback who got the game sealing pick 6 against Tom Brady. It was Robert Kraft who let Antonio Brown go after allegations that still haven’t been proven and trading Demaryius Thomas way too early giving Tom Brady only Julian Edelman to throw to. It was former Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores who out-coached the Patriots week 17 preventing them from getting the #2 seed and a bye. It was former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien who (somehow) beat the Patriots in Houston. Do not get it twisted. The Patriots ended the Patriots. No one else. So, if you’re a Patriots hater, you’re welcome for ending your miserable time in the last 20 years as a football fan, and if you’re a Pats fan, you can take solace in the fact that it took a farm of people who were groomed in New England to finally take them down.
As for Tom Brady. He is my favorite athlete of all time and it’s not close. If he returned for 10 more years I’d be ecstatic. That’s not the reality. Brady will go find a situation that is loaded with offensive talent like Peyton Manning did in Denver. He’ll probably get a 7th ring somewhere else and he’ll ride off into the sunset in a uniform different than the Patriots. That’s okay. He deserves it. Thanks for everything, Mr. Brady. You gave me a bond with my family and friends, both those who rooted for an against you, that will be everlasting. You’ve created more workplace and bar banter than anyone else could. You’re single handedly been the most impactful person I’ve never met.