Tom Brady was announced as the Madden cover today. The timing of it is interesting. Real or perceived, there’s a longtime notion that the cover athlete on the EA Sports game brings a curse upon himself (though, it applies selectively). More significantly, the conversation has already been swirling this week about if and/or when Jimmy Garoppolo will usurp Brady’s starting quarterback role in New England.
Tom E. Curran of CSN New England got the embers started, noting how Bill Belichick ruthlessly extracts value from all his players, trading them a year or two early when a) the Pats can get something back, and b) replace the player for less expensive. For many Pats fans, it would be unthinkable to get rid of Brady. They’ve won two Super Bowls in three years. His play hasn’t diminished. “For Patriots fans, the sun’s out, it’s 85 degrees and we’re all playing volleyball and frolicking in the surf,” Curran concludes. “Way offshore, a tsunami gathers.”
Garoppolo’s deal is up after this season; Brady is signed through 2018. Would it be SO astonishing if the Patriots traded Brady after this season, to one of the 50% or so teams that is quarterback- or buzz-needy? It’s hardly without precedent for a legendary quarterback to finish his career with a different team than the one where he spent a bulk — for example, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, and Joe Namath all had different final destinations.
Brady has said repeatedly he wants to play forever. What remains to be seen is if, once Belichick decides to move on, Brady would be willing to play for another team. My guess — and nobody knows anything about what will happen if and when this transpires — is that Brady will indeed continue to play.
There is a question about whether he would risk tarnishing his legacy if played for another team in his 40’s, and performed poorly. In my opinion, this factor is not a consideration. Brady has already solidified himself as the greatest QB of all-time. Nobody holds Unitas’s bad season with the Chargers, at age 40 in 1973, against him. Joe Namath is remembered for guaranteeing a Jets Super Bowl win, not limping around for the Rams.
The upside is that Brady could do what Peyton Manning did in Denver — hitch on to a team with a remarkable defense, and make the couple throws needed of him in a Super Bowl run. Decades from now, when people talk about Manning’s career, are they going to say he was benched for Brock Osweiler at one point that season, or is it more likely that he’ll be referred to as a two-time Super Bowl champion?
In a more middling scenario, Brett Favre had a great year with the Vikings before it all came crashing down in the NFC Championship game, and Joe Montana made the playoffs both years he was with the Chiefs, reaching the AFC Championship game in the 1993 season.
Anyways, all these questions are hypothetical. For now. But, it will be fascinating to observe this situation for the next year, and perhaps beyond. The sight of Brady in a different jersey would be jarring at first, but it’s not as though there isn’t precedent.