dan shaughnessy

Tom Brady is gone, and Robert Kraft should own that

Robert Kraft (right) said he would have made a deal if Tom Brady wanted to stay, but that seems dubious.
Robert Kraft (right) said he would have made a deal if Tom Brady wanted to stay, but that seems dubious.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

The spin started immediately.

As news of Tom Brady’s departure from New England was breaking Tuesday morning, Patriots owner Bob Kraft called ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith during a commercial break to tell Smith that the Patriots would have made a deal work if Tom really wanted to stay. It was part of a campaign by the needy owner, who will always position himself to court favor with Patriots fans.

In reality, of course, none of what Kraft was saying was true. In my opinion, the Patriots did not make a sincere effort to keep Brady. They did everything short of buying him a plane ticket to Tampa.


In this instance, Kraft backed his coach. He resisted the urge to rule with his heart and cave to the wishes of an aging quarterback who won six championships and made the Patriots a brand on a par with the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees.

Good move, Bob. You are supporting Bill Belichick, unlike when you ran off Bill Parcells because you wouldn’t let him shop for the groceries. In this instance, you let Belichick make a football decision, unlike the recent past when Belichick was forced to deal Brady’s successor to San Francisco for a bag of deflated footballs.

So own it, Bob. Stop saying Tom was going to leave anyway. Stop pushing the phony narrative that there was nothing you could have done to keep Tom. It’s OK to say that you and the coach did not want to invest $50 million-$60 million on a two-year deal for a 43-year-old quarterback.

Kraft insisting, "If Tom wanted to be here, we would have put a deal together,'' is an insult to the intelligence of New England sports fans. It’s like when the Red Sox try to tell you that the Mookie Betts/David Price deal was a "baseball trade'' and had nothing to do with resetting the competitive balance tax.


Former Brady teammate Chris Long sniffed it out immediately and told ESPN, “New England’s trying to spin it now, the state TV” — that means you, Channel 4! — “a little bit, that ‘Tom left us.’ If they were serious, I think they would have gotten something done.”

Rodney Harrison told the Herald, "I knew Bill didn’t want him.''

Amen. So Kraft needs to stop throwing this on Brady’s shoulders. Fact is, Brady is no longer a Patriot because they didn’t want to guarantee him a two-year deal for $50 million (with another $9 million in incentives), which is what he reportedly will be getting from Tampa Bay.

And that’s OK with this typist. What’s not OK is ownership delivering the crock of "Tom was going to leave anyway.''

The Patriots delivered a “thank you . . . with love” message to Tom on billboards across the region. Kraft would have been better served claiming “I was duped again” on those billboards.

While we swim around in this knee-deep blame pool, we have the equally bogus Brady media cartel story line that Tom went to Tampa Bay because he really, really wanted to be a Buccaneer.

Wow. Another whopper.

Tom went to Tampa because the Bucs were the only team that seriously wanted him. A big market for Tom never materialized. Perhaps this will fan Tom’s competitive flames just like when he was overlooked in the 2000 draft.


Everybody knows that nobody goes to Tampa if they have other options.

With all due respect to my good pal Wade Boggs, Tampa is the worst. It is professional sports Siberia. It is Jacksonville with better gentleman’s clubs.

Seriously. The Buccaneers are the losingest franchise in American major league sports. They have a lower lifetime winning percentage (.387) than any team in the NFL, NBA, NHL, or Major League Baseball. They define "losing culture.''

Launched in 1976, the Bucs set the tone when they lost the first 26 games in franchise history. They have played only 15 playoff games in their 44 seasons. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2003. They have hideous colors and a pirate logo. If we pumped sodium pentothal into Brady, he would channel Jerry Seinfeld from the Puffy Shirt episode and admit, "I don’t want to be a pirate!''

Brady settled for the Bucs after no market developed for his services. And to save face, Tom’s fanboys claimed he went to Tampa because of the Bucs’ vast weaponry and to be "closer to his family.'' Suddenly, Tampa is just a stone’s throw from Manhattan.

Wait till Super G sees Tampa. Rio de Janeiro it is not.

This is going to be great theater. The Patriots just got worse but are more interesting. The AFC East is up for grabs. The mayor of Buffalo asked his citizens to celebrate responsibly in the wake of the Brady news. Friday’s New York Daily News back page screamed, "Brady loss, plus other defections could put smiling Bill & Pats in AFC East cellar AT LAST!''


At the same time, the long-irrelevant Bucs are going to be must-see TV.

But let’s just stop reinventing the narrative, please. The Patriots didn’t want Brady for two more years at big dollars. And Tom is in Tampa only because nobody else really wanted him.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at daniel.shaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.