Geoff Smith | From the Baseline: Brady's signing gives Tampa Bay fans rare glimmer of hope
Back on Jan. 4 of this year, shortly after the New England Patriots lost to the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs, a certain sports editor tweeted the following: "This further proves my theory (that I came up with yesterday) that Brady is coming to Tampa. He gave us a glimpse of what we already know by throwing pick-6s to end games!"
How prophetic I turned out to be.
This week, while the rest of the sports world was at a standstill, Brady threw the football world for a spin when he announced that he was leaving New England, and eventually signed with Tampa.
The issue I have, though, is this: I was convinced Brady was washed last year. Yes, he was lacking some elite talent out wide to target, but it seemed like he had lost a step. My assessment could be very off. Maybe having a bunch of bums as receivers did hold the Greatest of All Time back a bit. Perhaps, down in Florida, he will have receivers that can get open in a second or two, and let him sling the ball around like Brady would prefer.
I still feel uneasy about him coming. This isn't a 30-year-old Brady in his prime ready to rock and roll for years. There's a very short shelf life on him, and it was a real gamble to put $50 million — plus incentives — on the table for the aging, six-time champion.
But that gamble is what is helping me come around on this decision.
For the first time since the Bucs traded for Jon Gruden to win the Super Bowl in 2002, it feels like Tampa Bay wants to actually win. As I watch other teams fight over scraps at the position, or try to comprehend giving former starter Jameis Winston a big contract, in comes Brady, the greatest to ever play the position, to save the day for me.
The risk might not pay off. There's a two-year window to get a title back down to Florida. But going into the NFL Draft, there's finally hope in a franchise that's been devoid of it since that Super Bowl win.
I'd rather have hope of winning it all, than try to convince myself that 8-8 is still an acceptable record for my favorite football team.
It's hard to imagine as Patriots fans, but trust me, it gets old really quick not being a contender. Even worse, is when your team is always in the hunt, as my colleague Jake Mendel says about his Miami Dolphins. Watching your team get stuck in a rut and not know how to get out is infuriating.
Maybe Brady can't get the pirate ship unmoored from the sand barge, but at least he gives fans in Tampa hope that they can sail the championship seas in the NFL again.
Brady's connection with Chris Godwin has me most interested. While Mike Evans is a star at the position, Godwin has always intrigued me since being drafted by the Bucs, and what makes me think he will strike up a great connection with Brady, is the fact Godwin is the primary slot receiver for the Bucs.
Wes Welker was Brady's safety blanket for years in Foxborough. Godwin can be the same thing in Tampa, but even better. If Brady can get the ball moving around the field to Evans, O.J. Howard, Ronald Jones, et al., Godwin is going to be in line to be that safety valve that Brady has coveted throughout his career.
Mix that in with the fact that head coach Bruce Arians has had studs like Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne and Hines Ward in that slot position in his offense, and there's the potential for something truly special to be built between the players.
One last thing about this move that excites me is that people will finally get to see how good Lavonte David is at linebacker. David has been a career Buccaneer, and has suffered for it by not getting the recognition he deserves. David has been a stud for the team since coming out of Nebraska, and with a heavy dose of prime-time games coming Tampa's way — what a dream, by the way, for a fan who lives in New England — David will get his chance to shine on a big stage. The defense has to be solid in order for Tampa to win, but with David leading the way a la Derrick Brooks from the second level in the early aughts, I think it's very possible.
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association provided another update on a potential spring sports schedule this week. There was one concession that the Tournament Management Committee made that gave me hope there might be at least a few games played in May and June.
With a potential postseason looming over any scheduling decision, the TMC recommended that if the season can't start by April 28, there should be no postseason. Yes, it stinks that there might not be games at UMass come June, but the ability to cancel the postseason tournament gives the option for teams to at least get games in, even if the season doesn't start on April 28.
By taking playoffs off the table as a possible solution, the MIAA gives school districts the chance to be flexible in scheduling, and still put together a modified season even if we are delayed into May.
I still think a spring sports season is a pipe dream at this point, but at least the MIAA is trying to keep its options open. The organization does enough to draw the criticism it rightly deserves at times, but in this instance the MIAA is keeping every door open to allow seniors one last chance to get on the field, track or court for the final time.
Geoff Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter or 413-496-6254.
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