Patriots owner Robert Kraft expressed surprise and gratitude toward quarterback Tom Brady after the NFL legend informed him he would be calling it a career in New England.
Brady shocked the sports world when he announced Tuesday morning on social media that he would end his two-decade career as a Patriot.
In an interview with NBC Sports Boston on Tuesday, Kraft said he and Brady sat down for a conversation at his home Monday when Brady broke the news that he would finish his storied career in a different place and a different uniform.
“We love each other very much,” Kraft said of his relationship with Brady. “He’s like a family member. This is very sad because he’s like a son to me.”
“This is not the way I wanted it to end, but in life, people need to be free to realize what’s important to them. I respect him so much. It was a sad, loving discussion,” he told NBC.
“I thought he was coming over as he has for the last 10 years to quietly get things done,” he said.
When asked if he felt Brady decided to move on over contract issues, Kraft said, “It’s not about that. … This is big picture. I just don’t think he was going to be happy staying in our system at this point.”
Brady made the shocking announcement Tuesday that he would leave the only team he had ever known to pursue a fresh start at 42 years old.
He thanked the organization, including Kraft and his family, in an Instagram post.
“To all my teammates, coaches, executives and staff, Coach Belichick, RKK and the Kraft family and the entire organization … I couldn’t be the man I am today without the relationships you have allowed me to build with you,” Brady wrote.
“Our team has always set a great standard in pro sports and I know it will continue to do just that,” he added. “Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM accomplishments,” he added.
Brady issued a separate statement on social media thanking his fans.
“MA has been my home for twenty years. It has truly been the happiest two decades I could have envisioned in my life and I have nothing but love and gratitude for my time in New England,” he wrote.
“The support has been overwhelming – I wish every player could experience it,” Brady said. “I can’t thank you enough for the support of our team. The packed training camps and sold out stadiums are mostly the victory parades. I have been so blessed to share them with you all.”
“How do I possibly sum up the depth of my gratitude to Tom Brady for what he’s given us these past 20 years, or the sadness I feel knowing it’s ending? I love Tom like a son and I always will. He has brought so much happiness to me personally and to all of our fans. I had hoped this day would never come,” Kraft said.
“When Tom arrived in New England as an unheralded, sixth-round pick, no one could have imagined the fairytale story that would be written, the records that would be broken or the joy he would bring to an entire region. He leaves 20 years later as the winningest quarterback in NFL history with six Super Bowl victories, nine AFC titles and 17 division championships. He has been an exemplary teammate and leader. There simply will never be another Tom Brady,” he added.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) March 17, 2020
Belichick, who has won six Super Bowls with Brady as his quarterback, thanked the Patriots mainstay for his commitment to the team.
“Tom was not just a player who bought into our program. He was one of its original creators. Tom lived and perpetuated our culture. On a daily basis, he was a tone setter and a bar raiser. He won championships in three of his first four years on the field and in three of his final six seasons with us, while competing for championships in most every season in between,” the coach said.
“Tom and I will always have a great relationship built on love, admiration, respect and appreciation. Tom’s success as a player and his character as a person are exceptional. Nothing about the end of Tom’s Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was. With his relentless competitiveness and longevity, he earned everyone’s adoration and will be celebrated forever. It has been a privilege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years,” he added.
Notoriously stoic, Belichick added, “Sometimes in life, it takes some time to pass before truly appreciating something or someone but that has not been the case with Tom. He is a special person and the greatest quarterback of all-time.”
Citing an NFL source, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that Brady “has not made a decision on where he will play next season.”
Despite today’s proclamation that he would not be returning to New England, Tom Brady has not made a decision on where he will play next season and he will be exploring his options, per a league source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 17, 2020
Las Vegas oddsmakers have picked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Los Angeles Chargers and the Miami Dolphins as the most likely destinations for Brady.
The TB12 era in New England is over 👀
Where will Brady play next? pic.twitter.com/q6F3rAGPYO
— B/R Betting (@br_betting) March 17, 2020
NBC Sports Boston reported Tampa Bay is willing to go “all-in” for the quarterback.
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