The Patriots fandom is a Nation divided. The separation comes from a certain former quarterback who is currently dodging Father Time in Tampa Bay. His continued success has been polarizing for this region to say the least. And it’s lead, once again, to this question: Is it okay for Patriots fans to root against Tom Brady? And the answer is unequivocally yes.

It’s a conundrum that was pushed to the backburner for a few months after the 2020 season mostly in part due to the fact this Patriots offseason has been as wild and wacky as we’ve ever seen around these parts. But with Mac Jones’ arrival and his inevitable comparisons to the GOAT, the conversation has reared it’s annoying head again. I can’t wait for the day where Patriots fans don’t constantly bring up Tom Brady, but I fear that day won’t come until he retires…IF he retires.

Amway, I’ve gotten a lot of flack with this take, but I firmly stand by it. It’s more than okay to root against Tom Brady. Now of course we’re not talking “I HOPE HE BREAKS HIS LEG!” here, but when watching Brady play, as a Patriots fan, you’re more than allowed to be like “Uh…I kind of hope he loses..” or “Hey Tom, what in the hell was THAT pass huh?”. Criticism should be allowed too.

I know this upsets many Pats fans, but it’s pretty simple. Let me use an analogy that isn’t perfect, but it still kind of works: if you are dating someone for 2 decades, and the last couple years the love starts to fade and YOU leave ME for another cooler, better looking guy…why am I going to wish you good fortune!? I hope your new relationship goes up in flames and you realize how good what WE had was. I. Do. Not. Care. How good the time we had was or how much we loved each other. YOU left ME. I’m not on your side anymore, sorry.

Of course my relationship analogy isn’t perfect. But I think it’s the best way to describe it. I simply do not want Tom Brady to be successful outside of New England. Partly because it continues to make it real that he left. Partly because my team sucked last year. And partly because he chose someone else over me! Yes, I could be the bigger man, but this is just how being a fanatic works. You leave my team, I am out on you until you retire.

And remember the “I’m having fun again” text he sent earlier in the year? People don’t forget, Tom!

And I understand there are a ton of Pats fans who aren’t as petty as me and are still rooting for Brady while simultaneously rooting for the Patriots as well. And that’s fine if that’s what you wanna do, but I can’t actively root for two teams while my team is still around. That’s like having a wife but a girlfriend on the side. Sorry but this isn’t an open relationship and I’m very happy with my current life partner. This heart only beats for one team, and that’s the New England Patriots.

Maybe my mind just isn’t as developed as yours, but I never understood rooting for two teams at once. Sure, you can watch another team and pick someone who you want to win, but there’s a line in my eyes. It seems like fans are spewing the same fandomonium (my own made up word) towards the Pats as they do towards Tom and the Bucs. It doesn’t, nor will it ever, make any sense to me. I root for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back. I’ll just never understand how you can be a fanatic of multiple teams in the same sport.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Well, the Patriots are rebuilding now and aren’t as good…so why not root for Tom in the meantime?” First of all, that’s a bandwagon fan. That’s not okay to me. Secondly, I refer back to my previous argument. If I’m not happy in my current relationship, I am certainly not wishing you good tidings in yours! During the regular season last year I was never necessarily rooting “against” him, because a regular season win isn’t the end of the world. But with every playoff win, Brady got closer and closer to winning a Super Bowl with ANOTHER TEAM. I do not want that!

It stems from the fact that I never wanted him to leave in the first place. I want to be able to tell my kids and grandkids that I saw Tom Brady win 6 Super Bowls with the Patriots and run roughshod over the league year in and year out without any caveats. It becomes a little more complicated when I have to add a Tampa title win in there as well.

And no, I am not worried one bit about the nonsensical debate that it was BRADY who made BELICHICK and how the Patriots Way was really just Tom Brady. That’s the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard. You simply would not have one without the other. Are they both supremely talented? Yes. Have there been times where one had to pick up some slack for the other? Of course.

The obsession with answering the “Who was responsible for the success?” question makes me laugh. It’s an unanswerable argument that doesn’t even make sense if you think about it. Take Eminem and Dr. Dre. Neither one of them would be at the level they are now without each other. Again, both great! But their careers wouldn’t be where they are had they never joined forces.

I don’t want this to come off as me being a “hater” either. I mean, I’m not sure how I could be labeled that anyway after I waxed as poetically as one could wax about the guy for 20 years. But still, I’ve been called a hater for my opinion here. Let me get one thing clear: there is no hate whatsoever in my heart for this man. Tom Brady is responsible for some of the best times in my LIFE. I will forever be grateful for him and I’ll be there first one to debate any and everyone that he is the greatest of all time. It’s simple. I’m a Patriots fan…Tom Brady is no longer on the Patriots…therefore I want him to lose. Is there a little added spice on it because he chose to leave? Maybe. But that doesn’t make someone a hater.

While he is playing, like it or not, he’s an opponent. We may not be going head to head every week, but he’s still the enemy nonetheless. The only team I want to win in the NFL is the Patriots. And when Week 4 rolls around, I am going to cheer against him just like I would any other opponent who steps against my team.

Sidenote: I think a lot of people are being exposed for being “Brady fans” the whole time they were parading around as “Patriots fans” too by the way. Not the people who can somehow root for two teams, no no no. But the people who don’t seem to be paying as much attention to the Pats or seem to be a WAY more critical than usual. Maybe those people take a look in the mirror and ask yourself if you were ever really a Patriots fan, or if you were just a Brady fan. I like to call those folks the “Skip Bayless’” of the world.

I also wanted to say this, being on the outside of Bradymania has shown me something: people really do bend over backwards to make excuses for him, huh? Don’t get me wrong, I think a lot of his criticisms are blasphemous and I was one of the ones making excuses year after year for him when he was with New England, but it’s kind of ridiculous now, isn’t it? I mean, we’re to the point that if the Bucs decide to run the ball and it doesn’t work out, you have people yelling “WHY WOULD YOU TAKE THE BALL OUT OF TOM’S HANDS!? STOP RUNNING!” It’s like, hey, friends…every NFL team runs the ball. They have to. It’s not always going to work out. That’s okay. Calm yourselves…

At the end of the day, I am a Patriots fan. If you are not wearing a Patriots jersey, you’re not on my team. That means I want you to lose. There are not, nor will there, every be an exception to that rule. Some may find that harsh or stupid, and that’s fine. I call it being a fan of a team. I understand what Tom did for this team. And I will forever be grateful for that. But I will never be the type of fan who follows a player from team to team and roots for them. I’m a Patriots fan through and through.

P.S. The Tom Brady Patriots/Bucs jersey combo is a monstrosity that should not exist.

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Mike Sullivan (@msully5433)

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