A guide for Patriots fans to manage the Tom Brady stages of grief

A guide for Patriots fans to manage the Tom Brady stages of grief

Tom Brady is the greatest football player of all time. Full stop.

It is hard to compare him leaving the Patriots to any other sports figure leaving town for another team. But Patriots Nation, I’m here to tell you that you are not alone and you will get through this.

The day was March 4th. The year was 2008. I had just moved into a new apartment and did not have access to a TV so I was listening to Brett Favre announce his retirement on the radio. 

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Like any life-altering event, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. I can still smell the bleach of the cleaning supplies I was using to scrub down my new bathroom. I can still remember falling to the floor in a heap of tears as the quarterback I loved and rooted for since high school tearfully announced he was leaving Green Bay. 

Of course we all know how this ends. Favre un-retired with the frequency most of us order things from Amazon. But that chilly March day was the beginning of a long period of grief and loss. 

Here is my advice on how to move through the five stages of grief.


Hey Pats fans, you already went through this stage.

All of the top minds in football told you this day was coming. Every opinion show predicted an ending. (OK, maybe not the Buccaneers part.)

We told you that Tom was fed up. We told you Bill wanted to move on and you refused to listen. You spent the past three months in denial. It’s time to move on to the next stage. And next time, maybe think twice before you call us in the media dummies. We were right. Nah na na na boo boo. 


I’m not sure who gets the credit, but someone once said “holding on to anger only hurts you, not them.”

So what. Get angry. Blame Bill. Blame Tom. Blame Robert. They all deserve some of your wrath. You feel cheated. You feel abandoned. Who are you supposed to cheer for now??? Do you root for Tom and Tampa? Are you a Bill loyalist? Why are you forced to choose? You know why? Because your team let you down. 

I may or may not have thrown out my Favre jersey when he signed with the Vikings and yelled expletives at the TV every time he took the field in 2009. It felt good. Curse up a storm. Someone also said the more intelligent you are, the more you swear.

(Expletive) ‘em all right now.


I think I started going to church again after Favre left the first time. I thought if I prayed hard enough, Aaron Rodgers would seamlessly pick up where Brett Favre left off. The Packers went 6-10 in Rodgers' first year behind center. Make whatever connections you might like.

The good news is that in 2009 A-Rodg took Green Bay back to the postseason as a Wild Card and two years after that, they won another Super Bowl.

You’ll make deals with the devil when Jarrett Stidham (or anyone else) takes over. And you should. Light candles. Wear your lucky underwear. Have Pedro Cerrano on speed dial. Even if it takes a few years, it might lead to another Lombardi. 


This will come in waves. It is a constant.

The first time you see Brady holding a Bucs jersey at his introductory press conference. When he actually shows up to OTAs and is enthusiastic about working with young receivers. The first time he runs out of the tunnel at Raymond James Stadium.

All of the mile markers will send you into a sadness you thought had passed. But then…


Brady will throw an interception at a crucial point during the NFC Championship Game in the Superdome and you’ll laugh.

You will laugh hard and mumble to your friends, “See, the grass isn’t always greener. Even in Florida.”

Benjamin Watson: 'I do think there's a much more acceptance now of players speaking out'


Benjamin Watson: 'I do think there's a much more acceptance now of players speaking out'

The death of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis has sparked protests throughout the United States as people have gathered to raise awareness and call for change in the fight against racial injustice.

Many athletes across different sports have been leaders in that movement, including a few right here in Boston.

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to engage in peaceful protests last weekend. Celtics centers Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier, as well as guard Marcus Smart, participated in peaceful protests in Boston on Sunday.

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NBA players aren't alone, though. The 2020 NFL season isn't scheduled to start until September, but many of the league's players have not been shy about speaking out or taking part in peaceful protests in recent days.

NFL players also haven't been afraid to protest racial injustice before games, including former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem during the 2016 season. Several other players have done the same since Kaepernick.

Former Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson joined the latest episode of the "Patriots Talk Podcast" with Tom E. Curran to discuss a number of topics related to the events that have unfolded throughout the nation over the last week or so.

Does Watson think NFL players will be more willing to and unified in protesting when the season begins, and will the league, its fans and the owners be more receptive to understanding those protests if they happen?

"Yes, yes, and yes," Watson said. "I think we are on a continuum of awareness, we're on a continuum of involvement of many people in different phases and spheres of life who are getting on board with this. Some people may not even agree that it's an issue, but they say, 'You know what, everyone else is doing it and I don't want to be left out.' And so they get involved, maybe disingenuously, but then over time they realize the truth of the matter. And that's great as well, even if they get in on false pretenses. At some point if they realize it, then I think the goal has been accomplished. I do think there's a much more acceptance now of players speaking out about these things."

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Watson also thinks the Patriots have done well to allow their players to speak out and make an impact on important matters away from the football field.

"And I'll say this, I was talking to someone the other day with the team, and I was telling him just that the Patriots, I believe, have done a good job in allowing their players to get involved with issues outside of the game," Watson said. "They've provided a space. There was a bill about education that came up last year, here in Massachusetts. A number of players got on board, speaking about it and talking about it. They had support from Mr. Kraft. They had support from coach Belichick to go and do those things. Support from the PR department. Other teams aren't like that, so there are varying degrees of which the organization will support and understand.

"I think the biggest thing here in Boston that I've seen is the reaction, especially of fans, when players are kneeling -- everybody can get behind education, but when it comes to police brutality and racism and those sorts of things, it gets a little touchy. I do think that there will be more of an acceptance -- there will be more involvement from other players. We've seen an outcry from players, black, white, it didn't matter, when it came to George Floyd. I've had multiple players reach out, 'I don't understand these things, give me some resources so I can read about what's been going on that I'm just not privy to.' I think there's definitely going to be a greater awareness and a greater togetherness with at least in identifying the issue. ..."

You can check Watson's full conversation with Curran in the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.

Kraft family issues statement on George Floyd's death: 'We are horrified by the acts of racism we've witnessed'


Kraft family issues statement on George Floyd's death: 'We are horrified by the acts of racism we've witnessed'

The New England Patriots reacted Tuesday night to the death of George Floyd by releasing a statement from the Kraft family.

Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody last week, which has led to protests over racial injustice throughout the United States over the last several days. 

Here is the Kraft family statement in full:

"Over the last several days, we have tried to listen, learn and reflect. We have been at a loss for the appropriate words, perhaps because there are none to adequately describe the horrific incidents of the last few weeks. It is impossible for us to comprehend what happened to George Floyd or the pain his family must be feeling, a pain that resonates with so many others who have lost loved ones in similar brutalities that were not captured on video for the rest of the world to see. We cannot begin to understand the frustration and fear members of our black community have faced for generations. Recent events have shined a light on a topic that demands much more attention.

"Our country deeply needs healing. We don't have the answers, but we do know that we want to be a part of the change. As leaders in the New England community, we must speak up. Here is where our family, and our organization, stands:

"We are horrified by the acts of racism we've witnessed. We are heartbroken for the families who have lost loved ones, and we are devastated for our communities of color, who are sad, who are exhausted, who are suffering. We know that none of the sadness, exhaustion or suffering is new. We know it is systemic. Our eyes, ears and hearts are open.

"Our family has a long history of supporting vulnerable people in our communities and advocating for equality. But past efforts don't mean anything until we all stand on equal footing in America, so we must act in the present, and not simply rely on what we've done in the past. There remains much work to be done. We will not rest on statements, because words without actions are void. Rather, we will work harder than ever before – through our philanthropy, community engagement, advocacy and supporting the work of our players – to build bridges, to promote equality, to stand up for what's right and to value ALL people."