It was going to take something incredible to stop Tom Brady from playing football: a sinkhole swallowing up Massachusetts, aliens abducting him to in order to breed a race of superhumans, Gisele wanting more couple time. I guess a ruling from the U.S. Second Court of Appeals fits into that mold.
After denying Brady’s appeal of his four-game “Deflategate” suspension, it’s looking like Patriot fans are going to see what life without Tom Brady will be like, unless the US Supreme Court hears his appeal before the season starts. (For the sake of the country, I would hope John Roberts and his pals have better things to do.)
I’m sure every New Englander has, at one point, had the completely reasonable thought that Brady would be the last quarterback to ever play for the Patriots, eventually transferring his consciousness to robo-quarterbacks when that becomes legal in 2051. But that’s why not having Brady for a quarter of the upcoming season will be a good thing for Pats fans, in the long run.
Since 2009, Brady has started all 126 meaningful games the franchise has played, racking up a 93-33 record. Take it from fans of every other team: that is not normal! A little time apart from your future Hall-of-Famer may be just the thing required to truly appreciate what you have at quarterback.
(By now, some of you Pats fans may be screaming that Brady was lost for the 2008 season, so you know exactly how it feels to be without him. But that 2008 team was loaded, and coming off a 16-0 season the year prior. You didn’t miss Brady like you should have, and you know it!)
If you’re facing some separation anxiety, New England, that’s understandable. When facing the unknown, it sometimes helps to break down every possible scenario. But since you’re all probably sobbing into a pillow and watching Ted 2 to feel better, I’ve gone ahead and done that for you.
Brady-less Scenarios for 2016
Most Likely Scenario: Pats go 2-2
Minus no. 12, this 2016 Patriots team is still a strong bunch on offense, but have some issues. Both Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola enter the year with injury concerns, while Martellus Bennett is learning a new role as a no. 2 tight end. De facto starter Jimmy Garoppolo could be walking into a much worse situations, but winning won’t be a given thanks to their opponents.
The Patriots face two top-ten defenses in their first four games (the Cardinals and Texans). No one really expects them to win in Arizona to open the season (they’re currently 4.5-point underdogs), but then the team returns home for three straight home games against the Dolphins, Texans, and Bills. New England has a potent homefield advantage, averaging just one home loss over the last five seasons; but if that one home loss is coming this year, wouldn’t you expect it to be during that stretch?
Best Case Scenario: Pats go 3-1
I’m aware that winning three games is not all of the games, like Pats fans are accustomed to. But for the long run of this team, it’s better if they drop one. If Garoppolo goes 4-0, he’ll get a big ol’ head about his accomplishment. Maybe he demands a trade? Maybe he gets all Clint Longley and tries to take out Brady. A 3-1 record is a nice message: “You’re good, but not Brady-level.” It’s the kind of reality-check that will keep him re-upping to be the Pats backup for years to come.
Worst Case Scenario: Brady discovers Pokemon Go during his suspension
The glamorous life of Brady doesn’t lend itself to a lot of downtime. With no football for four weeks, how is he going to stay busy? Hopefully not by playing Pokemon Go. Apparently, the most addictive game since “who can snort the most cocaine?” this mobile app has claimed stronger wills than Brady’s. If he gets on board, we may just get a retirement announcement in October: “Tom Brady leaves NFL to become Pokemon Master.”
Worst of all, he’d probably be the best at it, too.
Most Fun Scenario: Drew Bledsoe unretires, wins job
The last quarterback of the BB era (Before Brady), Drew Bledsoe spent a brief period of time as the apparent New England savior. At age 44, how can he pass up one last opportunity to assume that mantle? It would be a great reminder for Patriots fans of all the okay times they had together.
*This scenario would also accept Doug Flutie.
Impossible Scenario: Roger Goodell admits he was wrong and lifts the suspension.
Not even the wildest of imaginations can conceive of a world where that happens. [Editor’s note: it takes the special talents of one Henry Mardukas, who’s had to develop an unparalleled imagination in order to stay sane during Jay Cutler’s tenure with his beloved Bears.]