After one full day of self-isolation, I already found myself pacing around my apartment, too frustrated to sit and work. Everything in Chicago was shutting down (and for good reason): the bars and restaurants, my gym, my ice rink, my dance studio, my church. I started spiraling into a panic that the coronavirus will never end and regular life will never resume. I went on a long walk to calm down (keeping six feet distance between other humans), but I still couldn’t shake the unsettled feeling.
Then, this morning, I woke up to the news that Tom Brady is leaving New England. As soon as I tapped the push notification, I felt a little more alive again. The long-anticipated shakeup is exactly the intrigue and distraction we all needed after a slew of tough news days.
“Any non-illness related sports news is good!” said one scout, shortly after the Brady news broke.
After 20 years as a Patriot, and a disappointing 2019 season marked by frustrated body language and a flailing offense, the writing was on the wall that Brady would step out and try something new. I sent out some texts to league sources to see if anyone else might also be enjoying the news. The responses I got proved I was not alone in relishing the reality of Tom Brady playing somewhere else: Crazy, interesting, fun, agents and scouts agreed.
The NFL faced some criticism for moving on with free agency while the country—and the rest of the sports world—deals with the pandemic. But several scouts argued the opposite. They view free agency and the draft, and particularly, the Brady news as much-needed entertainment during a difficult time. Most evaluators I spoke with expressed relief that the league is continuing on schedule.
An agent I spoke with passed along a reaction from a current Patriots player: “Wow, I’m pretty shocked.”
While that shock isn’t happy news for Patriots players, coaches or fans, it’s certainly welcome news to the rest of the league and its fans. Will it be Bruce Arians directing Brady in Tampa with an arsenal of offensive weapons? Or will it be the Chargers who kick off the season with Brady in the sparkling new SoFi Stadium? Vegas, Tampa, Los Angeles, Indianapolis. No matter where Brady ends up, it’s going to be a compelling storyline to follow for the rest of the season.
Free agency officially begins tomorrow with the new league year, and it’s time to prepare for more excitement. As one scout predicts as far as when Brady will land: “I bet it will go quick.”
• Question or comment? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.