There's one word that comes to mind seeing Tom Brady headed to the NFC Championship: bittersweet.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm still struggling seeing the quarterback I grew up with and loved in anything but a Patriots uniform. In fact, he was one of the biggest reasons I was so inspired to get into sports media. Who wouldn't want the chance to interview the G.O.A.T?
Hearing the news that he was leaving New England was devastating. The rumors, and one of my worst fears had come true. The era of Patriot dominance was coming to a close.
Some of my favorite memories are centered around the Patriots in the Brady era. I'll never forget watching Super Bowl LI in my college dorm room where he led the Patriots to victory in the best comeback in NFL history. The only gift I asked for on my 20th birthday was tickets to my first Patriots game where I got to witness Brady in person, before it was too late.
20 seasons with six rings is more than anyone could hope for and I am extremely grateful for those seasons. I feel lucky to have had such a great run with him as my quarterback, to witness so much history being made from one of my favorite players.
Now, Brady is headed to the NFC Championship as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. To say I'm excited about it wouldn't be quite right. There's a part of me that wants him to lose, simply because I believe it will make him regret his decision to leave New England.
His performance this season has proved that he has anything but regret. 4,633 total passing yards, 40 touchdowns, 289.6 yards per game during the regular season are not stats produced from an unhappy quarterback.
Watching the Divisional Round last weekend where Brady and the Bucs handily beat the New Orleans Saints proved to me that he could win another Super Bowl and really cement his legacy as the greatest of all time. With a little leftover reluctancy, I will be cheering for the Buccaneers moving forward.
Years ago, I would've bet a lot of money that Tom Brady was going to finish his career as a Patriot. And it's a good thing I didn't. While I am still sad that he is no longer in New England, I am slowly coming around to the idea that I can want him to succeed in Tampa, however strange that may feel.
Best of luck for the rest of this season and the rest of your amazing career, Tom.