If I can brag for one moment, one superhero power that I possess is that I am quite proficient in remembering EXACTLY where I was when almost any bit of news occurred. I don't know if that means I possess a memory that is somewhat photographic, and I suppose it doesn't matter.
Now, to be clear, I don't like to overuse that power, and make every single news item a "remember where you were when you heard" sort of deal (even though I COULD). I like to save that theme for significant news items. I would say that Tom Brady's retirement qualifies, and thus, I will tell you, when I got this tweet pushed to me from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com....
.... I was on my second Coors Light at West Alabama Ice House, spending a pleasant Saturday afternoon with my wife. Unfortunately, for her (assuming she was enjoying my company pre-Schefter tweet), our quiet afternoon was about to change.
Twitter was made for things like Brady's retirement, and over the course of the next two hours, I was buried in reaction, overreaction, reminiscing, and report refuting. Indeed, Schefter's report of this news was met with a stern repose from Brady's camp, including his agent and his dad, basically saying "Nothing is final yet!" even though it's safe to assume this retirement is happening, as soon as Brady chooses to announce it.
So, let's operate in a world where we assume Schefter and ESPN got this right. What are our primary thoughts in watching the most accomplished football player in the history of the sport FINALLY hang up his cleats. Here are four thoughts of mine:
Numerous fanbases became liberated on Saturday afternoon
For kids whose formative sports rooting years occurred over the last two decades, basically anyone between the ages of 10 and 35, and whose allegiances were with teams whose souls Brady routinely crushed — in other words, pretty much every fan base other than the Giants — Saturday was a big day for you. Sure, you Bills, Jets, and Dolphins fans got Brady to leave your division in 2020, but I would imagine merely watching him still playing football gave you night sweats. Now, he plays no longer, and the reminders of the atrocities he committed on the collective psyche and mental health of all of you can finally be put in the rear view mirror, hopefully for good. The graveyard is overstuffed with a sea of sports rooting corpses that Tom Brady has singlehandedly murdered in cold blood for two decades. This is a big day for all zombies sporting non-Patriot, non-Buccaneer gear.
This retirement will feel much more acute than other recent greats retiring
Look, I am not here to do a post where I reminisce about Tom Brady with his ten greatest plays in Super Bowls, or power rank his championships, or even do some contrived "GOAT" debates within the NFL and across sporting lines. I'll leave that to Boston sports radio, where it's far more appropriate and less painful for the audience. What I WILL say about Brady in retirement is that his absence will be felt far more acutely than the retirements of recent counterparts like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and others. No player in Brady's age bracket was playing even close to Brady's level at age 44. Hell, current players across EVERY age bracket weren't playing as well as Brady did in 2021, when he led the league in passing yards and touchdown passes. It's not that league lost an iconic, aging player on Saturday. It literally lost one of the three or four most valuable players in the league, and that brings us to....
The profound effect on the Houston Texans
So, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers now sit with a roster, aside from the quarterback position, that is largely ready to compete at a Super Bowl level. It's a very veteran laden roster, with good players on both sides of the ball, and a head coach who isn't getting any younger. In other words, they need a good, veteran quarterback. If Deshaun Watson is able to resolve his legal issues, the Bucs should be on the phone with Nick Caserio trying to pry him away. Given the fact that they've recently employed Jameis Winston and Antonio Brown, I'm guessing the Bucs feel somewhat bulletproof from the P.R. firestorm Watson will likely bring. If it's not the Bucs with a heightened sense of Watson-related urgency, it should then be the Carolina Panthers. With Tom Brady and recently departed Saints head coach Sean Payton out of the NFC South, the division is wide open. Watson would make the Panthers the immediate favorite to win the division. The Panthers' sixth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft is a good starting point on any Watson deal.
So many incapable people throwing into the wild thanks to Brady
While Brady will undoubtedly be remembered for his individual greatness, one of the detrimental side effects of Brady's transcendent play is that way too many coaches and players from those great Patriot teams have been entrusted in prominent positions from having merely brushed up against the greatness of Brady. We know this all too well in Houston, where Bill O'Brien was given the run of the building, and Jack Easterby has had a hand in dismantling the franchise. (I'm still willing to wait and see if Nick Caserio is the rare capable Patriot offshoot) Josh McDaniels, Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Joe Judge, and the list goes on and on. Somehow, franchises are duped into thinking the Patriot Way is something you can bottle up and re-franchise in other markets, like a Wendy's or a Jamba Juice. The Patriot Way is Tom Brady, and Tom Brady is the Patriot Way. That's it. End of subject.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.