Bill Belichick and Tom Brady won six Super Bowls together with the Patriots. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Brady, Patriots have split. Here's why most of us will celebrate.

With an early-morning farewell on social media, Tom Brady announced he was done with the Patriots. The league’s most accomplished quarterback ended his New England career with a 219-64 regular-season record, a 30-11 mark in the playoffs, six Super Bowl titles, nine Super Bowl appearances, three MVP Awards, 14 Pro Bowl nods and a 2009 Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Two teams seem likeliest to vie for Brady’s services: the Los Angeles Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While the football world waits on Brady to make his decision, fans everywhere but New England can breathe a sigh of relief. Brady might be the greatest quarterback — and player — in NFL history, but here are 20 reasons to be thrilled that his time with the Patriots is finally done.

The AFC East matters again

Brady was New England’s starting quarterback for 18 of his 20 seasons. (He missed most of the 2008 season with a knee injury.) In those 18 seasons, The Patriots were as close to a lock as anything in professional sports, winning the division 17 times. New England missed the playoffs three times in Brady’s tenure, and only in 2002 did they do so when he started the entire season. Attention Bills, Jets and Dolphins fans: You have a chance again!

Is it Brady or Belichick?

A raging debate in the sports talk world focuses on which New England icon deserves more credit for the Patriots' success, Brady or head coach Bill Belichick? I’m firmly in the Brady camp on this, but whichever side you take, you’ll finally get an answer starting this season. And if they’re both terrible, we can all laugh at them for breaking up in the first place.

It hurts the Patriots in two ways

Not only is the greatest quarterback of all time no longer under center in Foxborough, but Brady’s departure also leaves the Patriots with a $13.5 million dead cap hit. Belichick is a master of roster-building and the salary cap, so he’ll likely find ways to compensate. But the fact that New England must eat eight figures is great to see, particularly when considering that Brady taking less than market value his entire career was crucial to the Patriots' success.

Now Deflategate can be put to rest

I love a good conspiracy as much as the next guy, but the NFL’s overblown response to New England’s deflated footballs scandal was terrible. The fact that it fueled whining from opposing fans was even worse. The Colts themselves said that the pressure in the footballs in the 2014 season's AFC championship loss to New England was completely irrelevant, but the story still took on a life of its own. Hopefully now it can be tossed into the dustbin of history, where it belongs.

No more QB sneaks – at least with the Pats

Brady sneaking for a first down or a touchdown is just about the most automatic play in football. What makes it all the more infuriating is the fact that some of his contemporaries will not follow his lead. Is it too much to ask that Brady’s first sneak attempt for his new team gets absolutely stuffed? I think not.

His celebrations were infuriating

When you’re the most important player in the league’s greatest dynasty, there are plenty of reasons to be happy. But there's something about Brady’s celebrations that are particularly infuriating. He was never too demonstrative — almost always straightforward about his glee. Perhaps it was simply that his spiking the football usually meant that the Pats were probably going to win. Never having to see him do that again with New England is a good thing.

A moratorium on Falcons jokes

Have you heard? The Atlanta Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI. The only reason that joke has turned into a ubiquitous meme three years later is because Brady engineered that greatest comeback in Super Bowl history — maybe sports history, given the stakes. Falcons fans probably don’t care all that much, because they’re really just Georgia fans waiting for college football to come back. For the rest of us, it was getting tiresome.

He’s not on the Patriots anymore

Self-evident, I know. But think of the inexorable sense of doom that Brady cultivated with New England. Every time you saw that red, white and blue uni with the No. 12 standing across from your favorite team, you knew things were probably going to end badly. Brady and the Pats were a force of nature at their best, and a team you could never relax against (see above). His putting on a different jersey has to take away some of his powers — especially if it’s Tampa Bay, right?

He didn’t get a storybook ending in New England

The football gods gave us this, at least. For all his dominance, Brady’s final act in New England was to go out like a chump. He barely completed 50 percent of his passes in the Patriots’ wild-card loss to the Titans, never got into a rhythm and his final pass as a Patriot was a pick-six for Tennessee’s Logan Ryan. Does it erase six Super Bowls and two decades of dominance? No. Is it going to be fun to visualize for months? Absolutely.

Patriots fans deserve misery

This tweet sums things up quite nicely. Never forget: Patriots fans are really just bored Red Sox fans, and infuriating, obnoxious front-runners. And those are their good qualities!

It was getting boring

Long, successful marriages are fantastic in real life, but in sports they can get kind of stale. For every infrequent, thrilling New England failure, there were at least two major successes. They won twice as many Super Bowls as they lost during Brady’s tenure. Greatness is compelling, but even that has a shelf life. Brady could have stayed in New England and likely played very well for two or three more years, but for sports fans everywhere, this roll of the dice is much more exciting.

Pittsburgh can exhale

No AFC team was more tortured by Brady and the Patriots than the Steelers. As a second-year quarterback, he beat them in the AFC championship game at Heinz Field (though Drew Bledsoe was clutch in relief) and then repeated the feat in the 2004 AFC championship. The Steelers never beat Brady in the postseason, and he was 9-3 against them in the regular season, with a 111.1 passer rating in those games. That represented Brady’s second-highest passer rating against any opponent — only his 116.7 mark against the Falcons was better — and was by far his best mark among teams he faced at least 10 times. It’s fitting that he left New England only after Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow blew up.

Your move, McDaniels

Can Josh McDaniels actually coach? Is the Patriots offensive coordinator a brilliant schemer or another member of the Belichick coaching tree who was ultimately propped up by Brady’s greatness? We’ve already discovered that Charlie Weis and Bill O’Brien are lame coaches, to varying degrees. Will McDaniels be next? Or will he just try to follow Brady to his next port of call? 

He might still be really good

It got old watching Brady dominate with New England, but he was actually pretty likable, at least as much as that was possible. His teammates seemed to love and respect him, he was unafraid to be yelled at and take harsh coaching and his competitive spirit was both ferocious and authentic. Plus, he still graded out well at Pro Football Focus in 2019; the site had him as its 12th-ranked quarterback for the season, ahead of Jimmy Garoppolo, Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan, among others. Brady playing at close to an MVP level for a previously downtrodden team would be fascinating to behold.

Robert Kraft is sad

If you believe this report, Kraft would have done anything in his power to keep Brady. Something about an owner not getting his way is satisfying to read, and now Kraft must figure out how to maintain New England’s status as the league’s premier franchise without the player who made it so. Did I just type that with a big smile? Yes, I did.

The Jets will find a way to screw this up

Buffalo managed to make the playoffs last season and almost beat New England twice, and Miami has a chance to draft Tua Tagovailoa. The Jets think their needle is pointed up, with Sam Darnold presumably healthy for a full season, but in true Jets fashion, it’s safe to assume that things will fall apart. If that means Fireman Ed is unhappy, I’m all for it.

A dark horse team might enter Brady sweepstakes

NFL insiders have focused on the Chargers and Buccaneers as Brady’s likeliest landing spots, but another team has entered the mix: the Dolphins. Forget Tua, Miami; the thought of Brady and Belichick squaring off twice a season for the next year or two is too good. You have to find a way to get Brady to South Florida.

The timing couldn’t be better

The world is a scarier place than usual right now, and just about everyone is craving a distraction or some semblance of normalcy. Brady’s decision to go elsewhere is a welcome diversion from the COVID-19 pandemic and the kind of thing that gets everyone to social media for a few laughs or some fun back-and-forth banter. It doesn’t make real-world issues go away, but it provides a welcome respite nonetheless.

The Patriots will stop getting all the calls

OK, they didn’t actually get favorable treatment from the officials; it just felt that way. When Brady was under center in Foxborough, it seemed that every break or lucky bounce went his way. The real reason for that was Brady’s ability to exploit virtually any break the defense gave him, creating an aura of invincibility around New England. The Patriots might be good with someone else at quarterback, but they won’t dominate so much that the games feel rigged.

A new dynasty will rise

Hey, Patrick Mahomes, ready to be envied and despised by all non-Chiefs fans? Hope so, because now it’s your turn.

Chris Mueller is the co-host of The PM Team with Poni & Mueller on Pittsburgh's 93.7 The Fan, Monday-Friday from 2-6 p.m. ET. Owner of a dog with a Napoleon complex, consumer of beer, cooker of chili, closet Cleveland Browns fan. On Twitter at @ChrisMuellerPGH – please laugh.


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Can you name every head coach in the history of the New England Patriots?
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Lou Saban
1961–1968
Mike Holovak
1969–1970
Clive Rush
1970–1972
John Mazur
1972
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1973–1978
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1979–1981
Ron Erhardt
1982–1984
Ron Meyer
1984–1989
Raymond Berry
1990
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1991–1992
Dick MacPherson
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Bill Belichick

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