A little more than 100 years ago, owner Harry Frazee let Babe Ruth get away from the Boston Red Sox in order to fund what was to be a failed Broadway musical. After putting a great team on the field for years, Boston then waited 86 years for another championship. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was fortunate enough to have a sixth-round draft pick emerge as arguably the best quarterback of all time, and he lost him without even a musical in return.
It is clear that Ruth was approaching his prime, while Tom Brady (who’s headed to his first NFC Championship game Sunday) has, at best, no more than two to three years left. However, had Kraft given him a long-term contract a few years back and the team surrounded him with good receivers, we would have enjoyed watching Brady play and succeed a few years longer — and retire as a New England Patriot.
The celebrated brilliance of Kraft and his coach, Bill Belichick, will not be erased by the hubris that allowed this to happen. Still, now that their reliance on Brady’s outsize role in the Patriots’ remarkable achievements has become even clearer, the fact that they lost him adds a mournful coda to what had been their masterpiece.
Gerald M. “Jerry” Tuckman