With Tom Brady leaving New England, most early offseason prognosticators are predicting a precipitous fall for the Patriots after 11 straight AFC East titles.
Within the building, however, the Patriot Way remains strong.
Penning a letter on The Players’ Tribune, veteran Devin McCourty dismissed the notion that the Pats will crumble without Brady.
"People are going to say that because Tom’s gone, the dynasty is over," McCourty wrote. "They’re already burying us, far as I can tell. And that’s fine. Let ’em. We’ve never listened to the noise, and we’re not about to start now. But the task is definitely taller this coming year than it has been in years past. There’s more work to do. And it’s not gonna be so easy this time around.
"That’s where the new challenge comes in."
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Brady wasn’t the only player who left New England this offseason. Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Ted Karras defected to Miami. Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton and Duron Harmon (trade) joined Detroit. And special-teams ace Nate Ebner followed Joe Judge to New York.
The losses, along with the big question at quarterback, have the Patriots in a place they haven’t been for a long time: uncertainty.
McCourty, one of a few veterans who returned to New England, wrote that he thought he too would start a new chapter of his story by moving on to another team. However, after the Patriots picked up the option for his brother, Jason, he decided family was more important than a new challenge.
"And as much as I wanted a new challenge in my career, I also told myself from the jump that if there was an opportunity to play with my brother again, I would take it," he wrote. "I’ve had more fun playing alongside him these last two years than I have in my entire career. We hadn’t played together since college. Now he lives across the street from me. So even with all this social distancing, he’s still right there with me. Our kids play together. He and I even ride to the stadium together on game day… So I got what I wanted: I get to play with my brother again. We’re keeping the family together."
McCourty noted that he found out Brady was moving on the same way the rest of the world did, on Twitter, but added he had a feeling TB12 was leaving after a deal didn’t get done leading up to free agency.
"But honestly, I’m happy for him," McCourty wrote. "He’s earned the right to finish his career wherever he wants and chase whatever he feels like he needs to chase.
"I’m just glad he’s doing it in the NFC."
Brady choosing Tampa over an AFC team helps the Patriots as they attempt to make the playoffs for a 12th straight season, and 18th of Bill Belichick’s 21 years at the helm. Still, it’s a new era that veterans like McCourty are ready to tackle.
"I don’t know what the future holds in this new era of Patriots football, but what I can promise you is that we’re going to work," McCourty wrote. "That’s what we do. That’s what we’ve always done. And no matter who comes and goes, that’s one thing that will always stay the same."
It’s the Patriot Way, after all. Not the Tom Brady Way.
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