There goes 20 years.
Tom Brady announced his departure from the New England Patriots this week, giving anyone with a sliver of interest in the NFL something to talk about besides the collapse of civilisation as we know it.
In his time as a Patriot he played in nine and won six Super Bowls, and the teams he led set the standard against which all other pretenders to the Lombardi trophy were measured.
Which makes his choice of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as his next destination surprising, as they’ve been pretty much the opposite of that for most of the last two decades.
Here’s what TB12 will have to get used to in the Florida panhandle…
The last time the Patriots didn’t reach double-digit wins Gareth Gates was still in the charts. That run includes getting to 10 wins with Matt Cassel rather than Tom Brady at QB due to injury in 2008. That 11-5 season is the last time they failed to make the playoffs, and they’ve had at least a first-round bye in every postseason appearance since the 2010 season.
That’s a lot of winning.
The Bucs have finished with ten or more wins just three times in the same span. The only reason they’re not universally accepted as the biggest laughing stock in the league is because the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars manage, somehow, to be even worse.
Signing Brady will give them a fillip through the offseason, but once this club comes into contact with real football in September, it’ll be the same old Bucs with a different, old quarterback.
While Bill Belichick’s mantra in New England is ‘no days off’, life on Florida’s west coast will be a whole lot more relaxed. In fact, the danger is TB12 feels too comfortable in his new surroundings – Florida is essentially the United States’ national retirement community after all.
Indeed, one popular theory around the Bucs litany of failure is that Tampa’s array of attractions is just too damn tempting for rich, successful football players – and we’re not talking about the Universal Studios theme park near-by . The nightspots and strip clubs of the city are rumoured to be sustained by the money of pro athletes alone.
Of course, if Tom needs to get away from his rambunctious younger teammates he can always pop over to West Palm Beach to chill out with his friend and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has a residence in the exclusive Floridian community. He might even show him the more sophisticated side of life in the Orange state – or at least get a two-for-one deal in the nearest massage parlour.
Robert Kraft will not accept a plea deal offered by Florida prosecutors in the case against the New England Patriots owner and other men accused of soliciting prostitution at a Jupiter, Florida, day spa, a source familiar with the case tells CNN https://t.co/HeXCD3hh1P pic.twitter.com/u89oVHajhe
— CNN (@CNN) March 20, 2019
Kraft isn’t just a patron of these fine establishments though. His purchase of the Patriots coincided with the upturn in fortunes for a franchise that had only made one Super Bowl appearance in their history before his arrival. He has worked with three all-time great coaches in his time as Patriots owner – his biggest mistake was probably hiring Pete Carroll, who has since won a Super Bowl as Seahawks head coach.
That’s about as good as it gets for an owner.
Meanwhile, Tampa are owned by an obscure family of shopowners you probably never heard of – the Glazers. If you think their mismanagement of Manchester United is bad, just look at the Bucs. They’ve changed their head coach, on average, every two years for the last decade. Sound familiar, United fans?
But wait, there’s more.
Like the Red Devils, the Bucs haven’t seen fit to turn things over at the executive level in seven years despite continued, repeated incompetence – Ed Woodward can rest easy.
Jason Licht is set to continue his barren run as General Manager despite the team winning more than half their 16 regular-season games just ONCE during his tenure, NEVER making the playoffs in that time, and drafting a man as the first overall pick in 2015 who thinks THIS is the way to get his teammates motivated:
You can almost hear everyone’s mind going ‘what the f**k?’ at exactly the same time.
They’ve lucked into some talent thanks to the draft too, but Brady has an uphill struggle to overcome this kind of management.
Sure, it’s going to be weird seeing Brady not wearing Patriots blue, white and red next season, but it could’ve been even more disturbing. The Buccaneers are due to change their league-worst, putrid pewter-coloured rig out for the 2020 season, and that’s a good reason for anyone with functioning eyes and a vague interest in the league to celebrate.
Their current jerseys, seemingly designed for a future age when all semblance of colour has drained from the earth – so about 2023 judging by the mounting spiral of global catastrophes – are for the chop, with new mooted designs circulating online, so it’s best to wait if you’ve got your eye on a Brady 12 Bucs shirt.
And just cross your fingers it’s not time for a Creamsicle reboot.
Can’t wait to see Brady in the creamsicle Jersey pic.twitter.com/n23N5TLFPp
— Going Deep Podcast (@goingdeep) March 17, 2020
Why Tampa, Tom? Why?!