“FOREVER A PATRIOT” are the final words listed on Tom Brady's Instagram farewell post.
The former New England Patriots quarterback announced he was leaving the team on March 17, through multiple social media platforms including Instagram and Twitter. He gave a big thank you to different individuals, including his teammates, coaches, executives and staff. He also gave a shout out to Patriots Head Coach and General Manager Bill Belichick, owner of the Patriots Robert Kraft and his family, as well as the entire organization.
In part of his statement, Brady wrote, “I want to thank you for the last twenty years of my life and the daily commitment to winning and creating a winning culture built on great values. I am grateful for all that you have taught me — I have learned from everyone. You have all allowed me to maximize my potential and that is all a player can ever hope for. Everything we have accomplished brings me great joy and the lessons I have learned I will carry on with me forever.”
Brady played college Football at the University of Michigan. He was the 199th player chosen in the sixth round by the Patriots at the NFL draft in 2000. He played for the New England Patriots for 20 years, winning six Super Bowls throughout his time on the team.
Brady is now moving onto the next chapter of his football career. He will begin next season playing as starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. According to the Tampa Bay Times, General Manger Jason Licht and Head Coach Bruce Arians talked with Brady over the phone, a conversation that lasted almost 90 minutes.
According to ESPN, the deal Brady signed includes a “two-year deal worth 50 million that is all guaranteed. It also includes another $9 million in incentives — $4.5 million in incentives per year — and the contract prohibits tags and trades, per sources.”
He posted another picture on Instagram with him signing the deal, where he described himself as “Excited, Humble and Hungry…” He also thanked the Buccaneers in his post on March 20: “I'm starting a new football journey and thankful for the @buccaneers for giving me an opportunity to do what I love to do."
Brady also wrote a heartfelt thank you to his fans and all patriot supporters: “MA has been my home for 20 years. It has truly been the happiest two decades I could have ever envisioned in my life and I have nothing but love and gratitude for my time in New England,” Brady wrote. “The support has been overwhelming I wish every player could experience it.”
Jaclyn Tully, a junior from Sandwich, Mass., has been a Patriots fan her entire life. She grew up loving football since all her brothers played. She remembers becoming a Tom Brady fan when she was in third grade. She recalls having his jerseys and t-shirts growing up.
“Honestly, I was in complete shock,” Tully said, in reference to when she first found out Brady was leaving the team.
“I really thought he was going to be a New England Patriot for the rest of his career. I had so much confidence he would be coming back, so finding out that he was leaving the Patriots I was very upset. My first instinct was obviously to cry,” Tully said.
Patriots’ fans reacted in different ways to Brady’s news. Some were upset and frustrated by Brady’s decision, which is how Tully felt at first. But she has since reflected on the good memories she has of his time with the team.
"I’m 100% grateful for the time he spent here with the Patriots," Tully said. "He gave us so many great memories and he truly is a Boston icon... I will always be a fan of his.”
Even though it won't include Brady, Tully had a positive outlook on the Patriots' upcoming season.
“It’s a new season and a lot of different players are coming in and leaving. I think that it will obviously take time for the team to re-adjust because they did have Tom Brady as their quarterback for 20 years, but I think we have such great coaches like Bill Belichick. We will do just fine,” Tully said.
Chris Ruppert, a Jets fan and junior from Rockland County, N.Y., said he was surprised by Brady's decision to leave.
“He's done this before and always wound up back in [New England]. Especially when he was hanging with Edelman at the Syracuse-UNC game last month — seemed they were getting along well,” Ruppert said.
Ruppert believes the Patriots will attempt to make it to the playoffs but just miss it.
“They won 12 games last year but were not a 12-win team. We'll see how the rest of free agency and the draft goes. Nobody drafts better than Bill,” Ruppert said.
He believes competition within the AFC is improving and this upcoming season should be interesting. He also thinks since the team won’t have Brady anymore, it will go downhill. He also thinks the Patriots next quarterback could be a veteran, potentially Cam Newton.
“They might draft someone later on and knowing the team, he'll be really good, but I think they'll need a buffer between Brady and a young guy. Unless he's drastically improved, [Jarrett] Stidham isn't the answer yet," Ruppert said.
Tully disagrees. She thinks Stidham is a great contender for the team's next quarterback, even though he did not get much playing time last season.
Patriots fan or not, many spectators are eager to see Brady in this upcoming football season as he enters a new chapter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.