I don’t think it has sunk in for the average Falcons, Panthers, or Saints fan just what we’re in for in the weeks and months ahead. The Falcons are re-tooling on the fly with new uniforms and a new-look roster including their first big ticket pass rusher signing in years and Georgia boy Todd Gurley; the Panthers are re-building under a new head coach and have an exciting (and probably exhausting) roster overhaul ahead; and the Saints are still one of the better teams in football and are heading into Drew Brees’ final NFL season.
None of those very interesting and legitimate story lines are going to get any traction, though, because Tom Brady is in the NFC South now.
As a seasoned New Englander, I can tell you that it is impossible to exaggerate the extent to which Brady is a vortex that pulls attention away from everyone else. The Patriots are almost an afterthought nationally already because Brady is no longer there, and I am not jesting when I tell you that there is a small but likely significant chunk of Patriots fans who will be less or even not invested in the franchise now that Brady is gone. The talk around New England nationally is whether they’ll be better than the Bucs, whether they might trade Rob Gronkowski to the Bucs, and a little bit about the intrigue around their legitimately interesting quarterback situation.
Brady, meanwhile, has dominated headlines for months, dating back to the questions of whether he’d leave New England in the first place. Now we’re going to have to hear about every time the man sneezes, and his strong desire to market himself ensures we won’t get a rest even when there’s no story of consequence following him around.
I mean, look at this.
Tom Brady's company has filed for two new trademark applications: TOMPA BAY & TAMPA BRADY. He intends to use the phrases on clothing and other merchandise. Filing first uncovered by @JoshGerben. The @dpshow has been selling TOMPA BAY shirts. pic.twitter.com/QzQM7FvDEq— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) April 10, 2020
This will be an adjustment for just about everybody. For Tampa Bay fans, it’ll be weird to be following a team that everyone’s still paying attention to in November. For Falcons and Panthers fans, it’ll be one more team where every matchup is framed in such a way that promotes the other side, as has been the case with the Saints for some time now. And for Saints fans, they won’t be the undisputed media darlings of the division any longer, which I’m sure will be an uncomfortable adjustment. All must bend to Tompa Baydy.
It doesn’t matter, really, whether Tom Brady has a great season or a bad season or no season at all. For the first time in years, Tampa Bay is going to dominate the headlines no matter what, all because of their future Hall of Fame quarterback and marketing machine. It really is Tompa Bay now.