For the first time in two decades, Tom Brady will appear in the NFL Super Bowl without his former coach, Bill Belichick. The pair of them took the New England Patriots to nine Super Bowls, winning six of them. This year, however, looked a bit different. Over the offseason, Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots picked up former Carolina quarterback Cam Newton.
With these moves, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots completely traded places. The Buccaneers went from third place in the NFC South without Tom Brady to the NFC Super Bowl contender with him. Likewise, the Patriots went from first place in the AFC East with Brady to 7-9 and missing the playoffs.
This year was the first year since Brady took the reigns that the Patriots missed the playoffs, with the exception of the 2008 season, where Brady suffered a season-ending injury in week one.
The Patriots originally drafted Brady with the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft. Now, 20 years and 10 Super Bowl appearances later, Tom Brady is unanimously considered the greatest quarterback of all time and still performs among the top quarterbacks in the league at 43 years old.
Tom Brady Speaks on Bill Belichick
Despite leaving the team this offseason, Tom Brady has no hard feelings toward his former team or coach. Brady admits that he owes the success of his career largely to Bill Belichick and the Patriots. However, by leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl in his first year with the franchise, he certainly proved that he still has it.
Leading up to Super Bowl weekend, Tom Brady spoke out about his relationship with his former coach and team. “I have a great relationship with him,” Brady said according to NESN. “I’m just incredibly grateful for what he’s meant in my life as a coach. He’s everything you could ask for as a player.”
“I loved my time and two incredible decades there,” Tom Brady added. “My football journey took me to a different place. I certainly could never have accomplished the things in my career without his support and his teachings… An incredible coach and mentor for me. I had a lot of those in my career, but obviously, he’s at the top of the list.”
While Tom Brady has now proven that he can succeed on his own, he still shows gratitude to the man who got him there. For many NFL fans, the end of the “Brady-Belichick Era” comes as bittersweet. While the tandem likely broke the heart of every NFL team over the course of their two-decade reign, there is a strange feeling not seeing them together in the Super Bowl. Perhaps it’s a little bit of Stockholm Syndrome, but we all will miss the Patriots dynasty a little bit, whether we admit it or not.