As the old saying goes, “If you love something, let it go.”
That’s what the New England Patriots have done with Tom Brady, who announced he will not be re-signing with the only NFL team he’s known for 20 years.
And the only head coach he’s known for that length of time, Bill Belichick actually invoked the word “love” in his farewell paean to his former QB.
Ask yourself which is stranger than fiction: Brady leaving New England? Or Belichick using the L-word?
Bill Belichick said he loves Tom Brady
Here was the release from Belichick:
“Tom was not just a player who bought into our program. He was one of its original creators. Tom lived and perpetuated our culture. On a daily basis, he was a tone setter and a bar raiser. He won championships in three of his first four years on the field and in three of his final six seasons with us, while competing for championships in most every season in between. This is a credit to Tom's consistency and what separates him. He didn't just perform. He didn't just win. He won championships over and over again.
“Tom and I will always have a great relationship built on love, admiration, respect and appreciation. Tom's success as a player and his character as a person are exceptional. Nothing about the end of Tom's Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was. With his relentless competitiveness and longevity, he earned everyone's adoration and will be celebrated forever. It has been a privilege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years.
“Examples of Tom's greatness are limitless, going back even before he was drafted. We witnessed how he prepared when he wasn't playing, how he performed when he got his opportunity, what he did to continuously improve, his leadership, his mindset, the example he set, and, of course, the person he is. I am extremely grateful for what he did for our team and for me personally.
“Sometimes in life, it takes some time to pass before truly appreciating something or someone but that has not been the case with Tom. He is a special person and the greatest quarterback of all-time.”
It’s a well-written and pitch-perfect sendoff. Maybe not the type of thing one rolls out of bed and writes (even though Belichick awakens early). It feels like he’s had ample time to choose the right words for such a statement.
Was it hard for him to write that word? Rather easy? We might never know. It’s doubtful Belichick will ever expound on that one.
Kraft’s statement also talks ‘love’
Patriots owner Robert Kraft — the one you’d assume would invoke the L-word more freely — does so twice. So it was 2-1, Kraft, in the “love” tally.
But Kraft clearly knows how special Brady is, too, and seems resigned to the new normal of Brady not being a part of the organization since his seventh year of owning the team. Here’s Kraft’s statement on Brady leaving:
“How do I possibly sum up the depth of my gratitude to Tom Brady for what he's given us these past 20 years, or the sadness I feel knowing it's ending? I love Tom like a son and I always will. He has brought so much happiness to me personally and to all of our fans. I had hoped this day would never come, but rather that Tom would end his remarkable career in a Patriots uniform after yet another Super Bowl championship. Unfortunately, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement to allow that dream to become a reality. While sad today, the overwhelming feeling I have is appreciation for his countless contributions to our team and community.
“When Tom arrived in New England as an unheralded, sixth-round pick, no one could have imagined the fairytale story that would be written, the records that would be broken or the joy he would bring to an entire region. He leaves 20 years later as the winningest quarterback in NFL history with six Super Bowl victories, nine AFC titles and 17 division championships. He has been an exemplary teammate and leader. There simply will never be another Tom Brady. I now look forward to the day we can bring him back home to New England to celebrate his Patriots career, his endless achievements and his legacy as the greatest of all time. I love him very much.”
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