Tom Brady is best thing to ever happen to Patriots, even as he retires a Buc

Ad Blocker Detected

Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.

Henry McKenna

AFC East Reporter

Tom Brady’s career is over. The greatest quarterback in history retired on Wednesday — again. He made his announcement in a social media video from a beautiful beach somewhere. He neither referenced the Patriots nor the Buccaneers, but instead addressed an all-encompassing “you guys.”

“I’m retiring for good,” Brady said before getting choked up. “Thank you guys so much — to every single one of you — for supporting me. My family, my friends, my teammates, my competitors. I could go on forever. There’s too many. Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream. I wouldn’t change a thing. I love you all.”

Brady won seven Super Bowls, six with the Patriots and one with the Buccaneers. His legacy with New England may have been briefly complicated, but at this point there’s no haziness or uncertainty. Back in Brady’s first training camp in 2000, the quarterback famously told owner Robert Kraft: “I’m the best decision this organization has ever made.”

Yup, that just about sums it up, doesn’t it?

It was a better decision than even hiring Bill Belichick.

But the beauty of the situation is that one thing doesn’t happen without the other. Drafting Brady was Belichick’s decision. And Brady doesn’t become Brady without Belichick developing him and having the guts to start the once-fourth-string quarterback. It’s a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum, and I don’t really want to chase my tail for the next 1,000 words about which man is greater.

I just want to say, without question, that Brady’s legacy with the Patriots is no longer complicated: absence made New England’s heart grow fonder. 

Brady was the best thing that ever happened to the franchise. It’s simple.

There were so many reasons to think Belichick would roll to another Super Bowl without Brady. There were so many reasons to think Brady wouldn’t win another championship without Belichick. It seems silly now, of course. Because Brady has his Bucs title, and Belichick just missed the playoffs twice in three seasons. But think back to Brady’s departure — there was doubt about what he could achieve when he defected for Tampa, particularly at 43 years old.

At the time, the breakup seemed unwise — like Belichick was ditching Brady at a point in the QB’s career when he was on the verge of decline. (That’s what has happened to so many Patriots whom Belichick has ushered out the door.) 

For the sporting world, it was fascinating: a chance for the quarterback and the coach to untangle their legacies — at least slightly. 

For New England, there was a general sadness and, in some cases, anger.

Why would he leave? How could he?

Over the past three years, Brady has achieved success at a level that Belichick has not. In doing so, the QB has simplified his legacy in New England. If Brady had stunk, it might have made things messy. But he was mostly brilliant, only building his living legend.

With Brady, the Patriots were perennial contenders. Without Brady, the Patriots have not been the same. 

I repeat: Drafting Tom Brady was the best decision that New England ever made — that Belichick ever made.

When we look back at Brady’s career, we won’t think about the breakup in odd or awkward terms. We’ll think about what it propelled Brady to do — win another Super Bowl and solidify the argument around his greatness. The Patriots (and Buccaneers) quarterback elevated his legacy to new heights.

Brady is a part of Boston. He’s embedded in the sporting history of the city. He is beloved — and something tells me he’ll someday soon have a homecoming of a true champion in New England. His three years with the Buccaneers only cemented his status as the NFL’s greatest player. 

But even after those three years, Brady is Patriot. He always was. He always will be.

Prior to joining FOX Sports as the AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @McKennAnalysis.

Top stories from FOX Sports:

FOLLOW Follow your favorites to personalize your FOX Sports experience Tom Brady New England Patriots Tampa Bay Buccaneers Get more from National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more