I wanted to write this blog like 3 days ago naming the top 5 players that needed to remain a Patriot for life and obviously Tom Brady was going to be #1. I thought he would give us until at least today before announcing his decision and like most stable minded people I thought he was for sure staying with the Patriots. Playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seems like more of a corporal punishment for the greatest quarterback of all time but here in 2020, we’ve got to expect the unexpected.
Among the curious moves Tom Brady made announcing his departure from the Patriots, posting an Instagram screenshot diatribe with the caption “FOREVER A PATRIOT” while literally announcing you will not be forever a Patriot was the most unnerving. Second was the Hulu Superbowl commercial which I now view as a slight slap in the face, but we will move on.
Waking up without Tom Brady has the franchise QB for your team is an ominous, depressing feeling. I empathize with the millions of you who have done it for 20 years. Last year I declared 7 Patriots on the 2019 roster that I would put my life on the line for. After losing Tom it feels empty. Here are the 5 remaining Patriots, all still currently on the roster, that absolutely must be Forever Patriots.
- Julian Edelman – Obviously. In 2013 I lost my #1 Forever A Patriot candidate in Wes Welker. Perhaps the handling of Wes’ departure by Bill Belichick played a role in his decision to leave. Many Patriots fans transitioned from Wes to Jules seamlessly. For me it was like choosing a favorite child, except my only child is my 11 year old cat Wes Welker Jr The Cat. We cannot let 2013 repeat itself, ever. After tearing his ACL in 2017 at age 30, it could have been an easy get out early decision by Belichick. How could Edelman be the same after such a tough injury at that age? Same way Wes Welker did it, by being a monster. Thank god they didn’t let him go, and there’s just no way New England could survive losing Gronk, Brady and then Edelman. If Tom Brady was the head of the Patriots, Edelman is the heart.
- Matt Slater – I think this is now a foregone conclusion that Matthew Slater will be a Patriot for Life. Even weirder than seeing Tom Brady in another uniform would be seeing Matt Slater stop a punt at the 1 in a Carolina Panthers jersey. Slater may go down as the best special teamer of all time, for sure in Patriots history. Plus no one closes a post game speech like Slate. In our hearts forever.
- Dont’a Hightower – Dont’a Hightower doesn’t talk a lot. He never gives any salacious quotes for bulletin board material, never gets in trouble, and is one of the only Patriots first round draft picks to click instantly. Without Dont’a Hightower I’m not sure the Patriots 2nd dynasty ever happens. His stop on Marshawn Lynch before the Malcolm Butler pick and his strip sack of Matt Ryan in Super Bowl 51 are two of the most important plays in Patriots history. It’s our personal responsibility to make sure we show him how much he means to this franchise and make him Forever a Patriot.
- Devin McCourty – Before moving Devin McCourty to safety from corner, I might have said he should be out of here in 2012. McCourty loves it here so much her recruited his brother to play with him. It was questionable before the start of this season if the Patriots would pony up the money to keep the McCourty twins the only set of twins to play on the same team, but in perhaps the only good news so far this offseason, he signed a 2 year $23 million extension. I don’t care how that affects the salary cap, or if people on Twitter think it’s a good deal or not, I’m not letting Devin McCourty get traded to the Lions. That shiny bald head is synonymous with Patriots football.
- James White – James White is the scariest name on this list. We’ve all fallen in love with the Dion Lewis, Shane Vereen Patriots running backs. If I wrote this list 3 years ago I would have begged Bill to keep Dion Lewis for his whole career. But there is something different about James White. I’m convinced if you called White’s #28 on any single offensive play last season the Patriots would have won the Super Bowl. Unfortunately Josh McDaniels wasn’t on the same page. Sweep James White to either side of the field and you’ve got a minimum 5 yard gain every time. His poster performance is obviously Super Bowl 51 and his game winning touchdown, but James White is a MAN. He’s the perfect Patriot. I’d go into any battle with James White at my side. He holds the record for most receptions in a playoff game, most receptions in a Super Bowl, most receiving yards by a RB and points scored. All in an era where a running back ‘isn’t valued’. Whoever the Pats have at QB, they better adopt James White.
“James White is like my oldest son,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said after Super Bowl 51, according to NJ.com’s Matt Lombardo. “He just does everything right and you can never get mad at him. If he doesn’t make the play, he feels worse about it than you do. He’s just the best teammate.”
Honorable mention: Stephon Gilmore. He’s played for the Bills, so not eligible technically as Forever a Patriot, but I’d donate a kidney or two for Gilmore if he needed it. It’s fucking awesome having a good cornerback.