With Brady in Patriots HOF, question now becomes ‘What about Bill?’

FOXBORO – Over? Did you say over? Oh, it’s not over. Tom Brady Day/Night/Week may have felt like culmination and punctuation. It wasn’t. Not by a fair sight.

Beyond the 12-foot statue they’re going to produce and unveil sometime this season (good thing he didn’t decide to wear No. 19), events on events are still to come hearkening back to the glory days of 2001 to 2019.

Remember, the line into the Patriots Hall of Fame remains long. We still have ahead of us Gronk Day, Edelman Day, McCourty Day and Slater Day. Maybe there’s a Hightower Day, an Andrews Day and a Jimmy White Day.

Most notable is the only day that will rival Brady’s. That’s Bill Belichick Day.

With Brady in Patriots HOF, question now becomes 'What about Bill?' - Yahoo  Sports

Every single clap, whistle and cheer for Bill on Wednesday night was delivered with a little different emotion than the ones for Brady, but they carried just as much intensity. Maybe more.

For Brady, everything was full-on adulation and appreciation. It’s been 1,550 days since St. Patrick’s Day 2020 when Brady bid adieu to New England. His choice. Not really. Whatever.

But every conflicting emotion the region’s had, whether it’s “The Patriots never should have let him go …” or “Tom wanted out…” has long since been resolved. The Tampa epilogue left very little doubt that Brady was the engine of the Patriots from 2010 to 2019 even if he wasn’t the architect/engineer/designer. It sucked that he left. But it wouldn’t have gotten any more comfortable if he’d stayed because the team was on a slow slide to mediocre and beyond.

So now, it’s all love (and some eyerolling as he continues an amazing seven-year run with his lips firmly wrapped around the firehose of celebrity attention and drinks in everything he eschewed from 2001 to about 2016).

With Belichick, we’re at 153 days since January 11. Things remain complicated. There are camps with conflicting views all over New England. From Camp Ithaddabedone to Camp Howcouldthey?!?!?! To perhaps the most populous outpost, Camp Igetit-Hewasadink-ButhewasOURdink-STOPKICKINGHIMWHENHESDOWN.

And in the view from my personal camp, that seemed to be the emotion being articulated most strongly Wednesday and for the past few months.

Nobody’s happy the team went 4-13 and was driven off the road and left smoking in a ditch. But the guy was here 24 years, his style was inimitable, his success unmatchable, the facets of his business approach (in some ways) a gold standard for any walk of life. Now he’s out of work because he got turned out by The Man (Robert Kraft) and – in the minds of many – has been summarily piñata’d since he left.

A man who never, ever, EVER gave off an “I need a hug…” vibe is getting one anyway. A long, loving, appreciative embrace. And he clearly appreciates it. Now, it’s important to point out that it’s Brady’s grace that’s making this all so, so, so much easier on everyone.

Practically from the moment he left, Brady was saying, “No hard feelings” and he meant it.

Not only did he not want history dredged, he kinda wanted to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

For example, Brady was pissed in 2021 when his Bucs were about to visit Gillette and I spoke to Tom Brady Sr. a week ahead of the game. Mr. Brady said he felt “vindicated” after Brady won a Super Bowl in Tampa, and added that he supposed his son did too.

But the kid did not, under any circumstances, want the very real irritation and sadness that existed at the end to be the story around his first visit to Gillette.

So vindicated, not vindicated, whatever.

Tom Brady Sr. emotional ahead of son’s Patriots HOF induction
Tom Brady’s dad, Tom Sr., caught up with Tom E. Curran ahead of his son’s Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Gillette Stadium
Since then, there have been tearful appreciations from the front seat of his car for Bill. There was his outstanding encapsulation of the entire experience in The Dynasty docuseries, when he said it was “perfect.” There’s been a very pointed effort by Brady to articulate what the fans are articulating every time they cheer.

“Yeah, I might have had my issues with him but don’t you ever think I wanted anybody else at my side and coaching me.”

Whatever agitation Belichick may have with Robert Kraft for the post-firing tenor of things (the firing itself was inevitable after Kraft spent years saying he needed to see improvement), Brady serves as the lubricant between the two to make things comfortable.

Which brings us to the question of when and how Bill gets celebrated.

After a year in TV doing exactly what this humble genius said he should do, the presumption is that Belichick will want to be back on a sideline. Personally, I wouldn’t be so definitive on that prediction. I think he’s going to like being in media. Elbow-rubbing, life-living, the ability to teach and gently second-guess while collecting bouquets all along the way for not being a dink.

(I’m consistently amazed that people are amazed when Bill is funny, outgoing, self-effacing, conversational and a pleasure to listen to. If, after 25 years, you didn’t know he had that in his bag, your observational skills suck.)

His decision on whether to coach again may take time. And if he’s back on a sideline, you can’t put him in the Patriots HOF until he definitely is done. His waiting period should be waived like Brady’s was. He needs a night in the stadium just like Brady got.

It seems Kraft has appropriated Jon Bon Jovi as a best bud, but maybe he can bang out a song. Whatever. It doesn’t have to be just like Brady’s, but it does have to be of similar scale.

And if the Brady statue is 12 feet tall, Belichick’s needs to be to scale right nearby.

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