To say that this was the worst St. Patrick’s Day Bostonians have ever experienced is surprisingly accurate: the parade was canceled, bars were closed, and their deity just told them he’s going for a pack of smokes and was not coming back. That’s right: quarterback Tom Brady, the GOAT, Mr. Six Rings himself, is leaving the New England Patriots. In turn, New England is due for a big cry now.

Simply, it’s like watching your parents divorce, without a grand overlying reason — it’s just the right time. After being picked 199th in 2000, out of the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor, Brady has gone from being a very slow prospect to an injury replacement to one of the greatest athletes of all time. The man has racked up so many accolades that writing them all in a paragraph takes too much space.

For a guy who was projected to be a back-up, the California-native has outplayed early career predictions, time and time again. See games like the Snow Bowl in the 2001 playoffs, where a second-year Brady starts his legend, not only because of the Tuck Rule but also standing tall in basically a blizzard, to manage the team to a win. In the modern NFL, he is the only QB with a perfect regular-season record, after going 16–0 in 2007, and completing one of, if not thegreatest passing seasons.

Or do you need a recent legend? Like Super Bowl LI, where he threw for 466 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he stayed keyed in and engaged, in a game that looked hopeless. If you’re down 28–3, with one and a half quarters to play, who do you want leading you? Brady or some other guy? Give me Tommy Touchdown.

Gif via Giphy

And now, for the New England faithful, their god is gone. The one who has always tried to bail them out. The guy who annually gave fans hope, or dread, will be suiting up somewhere new. He’s projected to land with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — a squad with top receivers, to make up for Brady’s aging arm strength, and a stout defense. Plus, they were an interesting 7–9 team, with the exception of a QB with a habit for interceptions. I’d put some cash on him.

So, where does New England go from here? Bill Belichick is a smart coach and general manager, but this is probably a kick to the stomach. You spend 20 years with someone, no matter the circumstance of the separation, it must still hurt. Also, it’s not as though GOATs grow on trees. Even solid replacements, in an offseason seeing the most quarterback movement in some time, are dwindling in availability.

Maybe the draft has options, but when your first selection is at pick 23, the cream of the crop will be gone by then. They could trade up, but Belichick and trading up go together like Brady and nightshade fruits & vegetablesJarrett Stidham has been a Patriot for the past year, learning that system and is the incumbent QB1. They can go with what they have, or hope that another sixth-rounder can spring up the QB ranks. Or maybe a tank is coming up? Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields look like game-changing talents.

All I know is that the NFL just had a seismic shift from a 42-year-old QB, who has consistently defied the odds. The New England Patriots need a starter for the first time since 2008, but for longer than just an ACL tear recovery. And the boys and girls of Boston are crying because Brady isn’t coming back. Even though his time in Massachusetts ended in defeat, at least everyone has the memories to rock them to sleep.

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