Tom Brady ended his career doing what he does best: Sticking it to the Jets.
The team that quite literally made him by knocking Drew Bledsoe out of a 2001 Patriots game and opening the door for the underwhelming sixth-round pick to slip onto the field and become the greatest quarterback of all time gets one last butt from the GOAT.
This time it’s not on the field, where he tormented the franchise not for a decade but for decades, plural. It’s as interference in the Jets’ apparent plans to find their own top-notch quarterback and put him at the head of a team that is otherwise built to win.
Simply put, the Jets are one of the few teams that are on the prowl for a strong veteran quarterback this offseason and now, thanks to a somber selfie video taken on what looks like a public beach, there is one less of them to go around.
It’s not as if Brady was heading to the Jets himself. Sure it would have been a great narrative for him to come to New York, finish his career in the city where he has maintained a tony home for many years and been part of the lore of not just one but two franchises, and carry the Jets to their first title since Super Bowl III. That may have been in the back of some minds, but always in the way back. The more likely destination for him always seemed to be elsewhere, joining forces on some walking-distance-to-the-beach franchise with Sean Payton like the two tried to scheme last year, or reuniting with his old offensive coach from New England, Josh McDaniels, in Las Vegas. Or, as has come to pass, walking away from the sport altogether for the second and (he insists) final time.
But now that Brady is out of the picture, there are more holes than plugs on the quarterback carousel. When the music stops, someone is going to be left without a chair.
Imagine Aaron Rodgers goes to Vegas? Derek Carr goes to Tampa? Jimmy Garoppolo goes to Green Bay? And what are the Jets left with? Another heartbreaking loss at the hands of their most villainous foe.
You can almost hear the “Mwah-hah-hah.”
Brady’s decision Wednesday morning to hit send on that video he apparently shot a few days earlier certainly hit the pause button on all other NFL news. Again. Retirement II, to use the vernacular of the Super Bowls he was best known for winning, set off a landslide of reflections and approbations. Again. All of them deserved. Again.
His statistical impact on the league is as unrivaled as his nearly victorious battle against his mounting years. This is a quarterback who, in his final season, at age 45, while his family splintered in a very public manner, set the NFL record for most completions and attempted passes in a single year. He was the only reason the Buccaneers were remotely competitive. His comeback wins against the Rams and the Saints in 2022 added to his legend and came not from his abilities alone but his unparalleled desire to win. He willed them to those victories. There was never a quarterback more competitive than he was, for better or worse. Just Google video of him shaking hands with Nick Foles after the Eagles beat his Patriots in Super Bowl LII. Then keep Googling because it doesn’t exist.
While you are at it, you can search for last year’s career obituaries that fawned over Brady and his accomplishments too. His collection of rings, his record-setting numbers, his impact on the sport itself, it’ll all be there in gauzy language. Those articles will be updated now, not necessarily rewritten but enhanced with a few of the numbers adjusted to reflect his quick about-face and return to playing for 2022 after last year’s retirement announcement. Editors, remember to change “Class of 2027” to “Class of 2028” when referencing his automatic enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Around these parts, however, Brady was a Jets menace. He didn’t just break the hearts of the team and its fans, he ripped them out, deflated them, then stomped them with his cleats on.
Brady always seemed to spell doom for the Jets.
Now that he is gone, perhaps he still does.