You are a loyal New England Patriots fan and you are conflicted.
You never thought the face of the franchise, six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady would leave.
You assumed he would conclude his career in New England, where he spent the last 20 years.
You thought the Patriots would make sure he never left by providing him with a nice, fat multiyear contract.
But Brady, who often took pay cuts or restructured his contract so the Patriots had money they could use to land important complementary players, was never offered a long-term deal.
And he stated that he wanted a new challenge.
So he is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
You can read into it what you want.
The worst part was the endless discussion of the Brady decision on TV and radio. Add in the lack of live sports on TV due to the coronavirus and it dragged on forever.
The national media talked about his crumbling relationship with head coach Bill Belichick and/or offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Brady denied that there were any issues with either one.
It was obvious last season that he didn’t have the weapons he had in the past. With the exception of Julian Edelman, he didn’t have receivers who could get quick separation from the defensive backs. They were either newcomers or just not good enough to get free expediently.
Combine that with an injury laden offensive line and the result was Brady simply didn’t have that extra half-second he needed to pick out a receiver. He was forced to rush his throws or throw the ball away.
He has never been mobile, so scrambling until someone got open wasn’t an option.
According to Pro Football Relevance, he had the third-worst rate of bad throws in the NFL last season (20.6 percent) and he was just 22nd in on-target throws (73.1 percent). His 88.0 quarterback rating was his worst since 2013 (87.3) and his second-worst since an 87.9 showing in 2006.
His 60.8 percent completion rate was his second worst since he completed 60.8 percent of his passes in 2004. He completed 60.5 percent in 2013.
So the Patriots decided it was time to move on and so did Brady.
You may be miffed at Brady for showing up at Tampa Bay’s OTAs (Organized Team Activities) this month after not participating in the Patriots OTAs the last two years.
But, remember, he still led them to the Super Bowl title two years ago.
And he has to do a lot of homework to get on the same page with his new coaching staff and teammates.
Brady turns 43 on Aug. 3 and feels he has something to prove.
That competitive fire that produced a remarkable nine Super Bowl appearances in 19 years as the starter is still burning hot.
As surprising as it was that he left, it is equally surprising that the Patriots didn’t go out and draft a quarterback or find a veteran to replace him.
Second-year pro Jarrett Stidham is the heir apparent with career backup Brian Hoyer (38 starts in 11 seasons) relegated to his usual role.
I just can’t fathom the rationale behind it, or the fact they traded away their first-round pick and made their first selection, in the second round — safety Kyle Dugger out of Division II Lenoir-Rhyne (North Carolina).
This reeks of rebuilding, a word Patriots fans don’t recognize.
Belichick has always had that smartest-guy-in-the-room mentality.
He often trades away high-round picks to get more lower-round choices because he feels he is smarter than everyone else and is a better evaluator of talent.
And as much as you would like to kick him in the rear end for his surly, condescending nature, you certainly can’t argue with his success.
He is among the best coaches, if not the best, in NFL history.
Winning six Super Bowls and playing in nine in 19 years in a sport that has a salary cap and an extensive list of injuries is unprecedented.
The Patriots have reached the Super Bowl virtually every other year under him.
If there is even a football season this year with the COVID-19 pandemic, Belichick and the Patriots will be competitive.
It is unlikely that they will make the playoffs but it is what it is.
We have been so spoiled.
During a seven-year span between 1989 and 1995, the Patriots went 35-77.
They had just one winning season during that stretch: 1994 (10-6).
It is sad to see Brady leave and Patriots fans should just feel fortunate that in a day and age when most professional athletes are all about money rather than loyalty, Brady was an exception to the rule by spending 20 seasons in Foxborough.
The Brady era was going to eventually come to an end.
It has just come a few years earlier than expected.
Brady, a future Hall of Famer, should be remembered fondly.
BDN Sports Reporter Larry Mahoney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org