We’ve seen Tom Brady going to the Buccaneers before

New England Patriots, NFL Free Agency, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers isn’t the first time a star quarterback has done something like this.

Tom Brady has traded in red, white and blue uniform for a pewter, creamsicle and…red one.

After 20 years of quarterbacking excellence with the New England Patriots, Brady opted to leave familiar Foxborough faces in favor of new and uncertain horizons on the Florida Gulf Coast. Brady is the new face of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers entering his age-43 season. Not only did we not believe Brady would seriously want to play until he’s 45, but to suit up for another franchise?


Well, this is the reality we are living in. Brady will lead Bruce Arians’ Buccaneers into battle on fall Sundays for the foreseeable future. While many people retire in Florida, Brady chooses to keep on playing, chasing his seventh Lombardi Trophy and his first without Bill Belichick.

It will be weird to see Brady in anything other than a Patriots uniform. No, this is not the first time a superstar quarterback has played for somebody else in the twilight of his illustrious career, nor will it be the last. Here are six spectacular signal-callers who had to put pen to paper and play for another franchise in the twilight of their hall of fame careers.

Well before Brady’s time, Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath brought modern quarterbacking to the NFL with the then-Baltimore Colts and New York Jets. Unitas and Namath were generational talents whose virtuosity in the passing game changed the league and made quarterback the position everyone wanted to play growing up. Johnny U and Broadway Joe were the coolest.

Though you swore Unitas and Namath never played for anybody else, both hall of famers did spend the last year of their careers playing forgettable football in California. Unitas spent a year with the then-San Diego Chargers and Namath a year with the Los Angeles Rams. Neither of their stints in Southern California brought either quarterbacking legend any modicum of success.

During Brady’s youth, Joe Montana and Brett Favre were the NFL’s star quarterbacks. Montana was Brady’s boyhood idol leading the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowls. Favre was the Green Bay Packers’ iron man, a guy whose love for the game made the long-suffering Packers relevant again. He won three straight NFL MVPs and hoisted a Lombardi Trophy in Green Bay.

But eventually, the 49ers and Packers knew they had to move on. Steve Young and Aaron Rodgers were too promising to ride pine for very long. Young’s rise in San Francisco led Montana to play two years with the Kansas City Chiefs. Rodgers’ promise resulted in Favre spending one year with the Jets before playing his final two NFL seasons with the rival Minnesota Vikings.

Unlike Namath and Unitas before them, Montana and Favre did find success on their new teams. Montana was a Pro Bowler, helping the 1993 Chiefs reach the AFC Championship game. Favre made Pro Bowls in his first two years away from Green Bay, first with the 2008 Jets and then with the 2009 Vikings, coming up short in the NFC Championship game. They were good, but not great.

Now, we must assess what has happened to two of his contemporaries, Peyton Manning only a few years ago and now Philip Rivers. Manning was cast aside by the Indianapolis Colts after having undergone a fourth neck surgery. The Colts drafted his successor in Andrew Luck in 2012. After a year out of football, Manning resurfaced as the new face of the Denver Broncos.

Manning went to two Super Bowls and had tremendous success initially. Though his 2013 Broncos were humiliated by the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 48, he won his fifth NFL MVP that year. Though still a Pro Bowler in 2014, Manning fell off a cliff physically the next year. Fate would have it the 2015 Broncos defense would carry an aging Manning to a Super Bowl 50 victory.

As for Rivers, he too moved on from his long-time team this offseason. Rivers never achieved anywhere near the team success of Brady, but will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day for his brilliance in utter chaos in quarterbacking the Chargers. With no Don Coryell to lean on, Rivers put together a magnificent career amidst pure turmoil only Warren Moon could really appreciate.

Rivers now goes to the house that Manning built in Indianapolis, hoping a reunion with Frank Reich will be the reason he finally gets to a Super Bowl. While Rivers is dreaming of Tampa, Brady is now living in Tampa. The greatest quarterback of all time has his shot at leading the first team in NFL history to play and win a Super Bowl in its own stadium. Super Bowl 55 will be in Tampa.

Brady and Rivers’ legacies are impressive, but they can be expanded upon with an interesting second chapter. The question is will Brady and Rivers go the way of Unitas and Namath, the way of Montana or Favre, or the way of Manning? Regrettable, respectable or remarkable. We’ve seen quarterback stories like these unfold before. We just don’t know how these two new tales will end.

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