About an hour after Tom Brady said he wasn’t coming back, the search for the new face of Boston sports already started. “This is your town now (insert player’s name here).”
Some media members proposed players from the respective sport they cover, then fans offered their own opinion. It’s a natural debate, no doubt. But if there was ever a meaningless sports discussion to be had, it’s “Who is the next face of Boston sports now that Tom Brady is gone?”
There are certainly players who can make the case for best athlete in Boston. Jayson Tatum just turned 22 and David Pastrnak will be 24 in May, and they’re both All-Stars in their respective sports. Xander Bogaerts has two rings and is a two-time all-star at 27, and at 23, Rafael Devers had everyone’s attention, too.
But there’s a difference between best player and face of the city. Even then, there’s a difference between face of the city and Tom Brady.
Of course, early-career success was the catalyst to Brady’s ascension. But that success didn’t guarantee the next five years would be similar — let alone the next 15. And the aforementioned young athletes have not had the same success as Brady — even Bogaerts with his two rings and two MLB All-Star nods is different.
Then there’s the matter of the national media look-at-me machine. At some points, the Brady-doubters have been countless. Then when he shut most of them up, the few who refused to admit they were wrong became louder and all of a sudden had a chance to speak more.
The biggest factor in it all, though, is Brady was there at the beginning. Before the Bruins and Red Sox ended their droughts and before Kevin Garnett screamed “Anything is possible,” there was Brady. He started the decade of dominance that turned into a 20-year run.
Titletown, City of Champions, whatever you want to call it — Brady was its founder. You don’t replace someone like that.