For 20 years, you couldn’t hear Tom Brady’s name without thinking about the New England Patriots and vice-versa. It felt like the two were destined to be together forever. Truly, no one seemed to really believe that the six-time Super Bowl champion and nine-time AFC champion would ever play a down in another uniform.
Then, things changed. Brady decided to enter a new chapter of his career last March, leaving New England as a free agent. After a brief pursuit, the Buccaneers brought him on board for his age-43 and age-44 seasons. It was a seismic shift in the NFL landscape and even for his new fans in Tampa Bay, it was weird seeing Brady in red and pewter for a while.
After such a major change, the Bucs’ 2020 season was vastly different from the Patriots’. Brady took his new team to 11-5 and now has it playing for the Super Bowl in its home stadium this Sunday. As for the Pats, they went 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
But despite his departure and New England’s subsequent disappointing season, Brady still has a lot of support up north. Many Patriots fans have been rooting for him and Rob Gronkowski, another longtime Patriot, throughout the year and are now wanting to see their former players win another ring.
On Wednesday, Brady was asked about still having so much support from New England fans. He had this to say:
“Obviously, any time you change teams, you don’t know how it’s gonna go, but I think there’s been incredible support I’ve had from the team I used to play for, all of the New England fans. I still obviously have a great affection for New England. I said the other day, my kids were born in Boston, so I have a lot of love for Boston and all of New England and the incredible support over the years. Again, it was an amazing two decades of my life and I’ll always have a presence there. I have a lot of friends there. It’s just really cool to be able to have that experience in my life and have my football journey take me to somewhere else, and [to] come down here and play for a different team but still have incredible support. Even all of the guys I used to play with in New England, I still have a lot of friends [there]. I’ve heard from so many of my teammates, so many of my old coaches that are wishing me luck. So, it’s been really cool.
As cool as it’s been for Brady and Gronkowski to have New Englanders still rooting for them now that they’re in Tampa Bay, there’s no doubt that any kind of alliance between the two fan bases is an uneasy one. Because of rivalries between the Rays and Red Sox in the MLB and the Lightning and Bruins in the NHL, there’s always been a lot of hostility between Tampa Bay fans and those up in New England. Being on the same side? That’s very 2020 (and 2021?), to say the least.
But as uneasy as that alliance is, it’s sure to be a strong one when Super Bowl LV is played inside Raymond James Stadium on Sunday.