Tom Brady is leaving the New England Patriots, and the gravity of his departure was felt quickly by owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick.
“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,” Belichick said Tuesday in a lengthy statement reflecting on Brady’s 20 seasons with the Patriots.
Brady announced Tuesday in a series of Instagram posts Brady announced Tuesday in a series of Instagram posts Brady announced Tuesday in a series of Instagram posts he was continuing his football career elsewhere. He met with Kraft on Monday night before making his decision public.
The sixth-round pick in 2000 was a three-time NFL MVP and six-time Super Bowl champion, guiding the Patriots to 13 AFC East division titles and 17 playoff appearances.
“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,” Kraft said.
“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.”
Belichick was pressed often in 2018 about his relationship with his quarterback after Brady’s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, was barred from Gillette Stadium and team flights. Both parties insisted things were fine, but Brady’s tone often reflected otherwise.
“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,” Belichick said.
“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.”
–Field Level Media