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Will Tom Brady Retire A Patriot?

BOSTON (CBS) -- Tom Brady retired on Tuesday. He did so as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, making it abundantly clear that he really enjoyed the final two years of his Hall of Fame career.

Nowhere in his announcement was a mention of the Patriots or New England, the team and region that Brady brought six Super Bowl titles. It was an extremely odd omission, considering how long the announcement and subsequent thanks yous went on for.

There are two ways to look at it. Tom Brady decided to take a pretty petty route and just ignore those two decades of success that he had with the Patriots. While disappointing, that is a pretty legit heel move on his part.

On the other side, the lack of Pats talk has led to a lot of speculation that, perhaps, Brady and the Patriots have something bigger planned. Much of the theorizing centers on Brady returning to New England on one of those honorary one day contract so that he can retire as a member of the Patriots.

That would certainly be a fitting end to Brady's career. He spent 20 of his 22 NFL seasons with the Patriots, winning six of his seven Super Bowls with New England. The Patriots were the team that drafted him in the sixth round in 2000 and gave him his shot when no one else would. Bill Belichick made the difficult decision to stick with Brady in 2001 when Drew Bledsoe was healthy enough to return, a decision that was obviously rewarded with a handful of Lombardis.

Brady became an NFL and sports icon during his two decades with the Patriots. In those 20 years, he went from being a somewhat pudgy pizza-eating rookie to a long-haired assassin to a health nut -- dominating the game of football every step along the way. He set nearly every passing record, won more playoff games than anyone and won more Super Bowls than anyone in a Patriots jersey.

That is the jersey that Brady should have been wearing when he stepped away from the NFL. Alas, sports are not fairy tales and they usually don't have a happy ending. That was the case with Brady and the Patriots when the marriage ended in 2020. When he joined Tampa, the world was in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and written statements were the only way for Brady to really say goodbye.

Tuesday's snub notwithstanding, Brady and the Patriots appear to have a pretty good relationship. He had a rather long thank you to Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and all of New England right after he left. And when he returned to Foxboro in October, he was greeted with deafening cheers when he took the field at Gillette Stadium as a Buccaneer. Some boos were mixed in, of course, and more followed when the game actually got underway. But Brady received a lot more love than hate that October evening.

Heading into that game, Kraft said that he hoped and believed that Tom Brady would come back to New England and retire a Patriot. That may not happen officially, but it could be a nice ceremonial show, a chance for Brady to give New England fans a real farewell, and vice versa. Brady does have a lot of stuff to sell these days, and it would probably be in his best interest to get back in the good graces of the Northeast region.

And if that isn't in the cards, Brady will be back in New England soon enough to get his red jacket and take his place in the Patriots Hall of Fame. By then, maybe New England fans will have remembered all the glory that Brady brought to the region, and forgotten about not being mentioned in a retirement announcement.

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