Brady has left the Building

It is the end of an Era. Tom Brady’s time with the New England Patriots has come to a close. The Quarterback made the announcement on social media earlier yesterday morning, putting an end to both the speculation and to the Patriots formidable dynasty. Personally, I had a feeling that he wouldn’t be returning to Foxboro. And now we know for sure. For the first time since I’ve started watching American football, Tommy 12 won’t be playing for the Patriots come September. And I honestly don’t know how I feel about that.  

Tom Brady is undoubtedly one of the greatest players to ever touch a pigskin. He is also the greatest Quarterback to ever play the game. I might not particularly like the man, but God Dammit do I respect him. His departure from Boston marks a significant blow to the core tenets of the National Football League. The last vestiges of old school football are fading; blindside blocks, Tom Brady and soon enough the kick return.

We could all see that Brady was fading. His performance through the 2019 season and the Patriots failure to advance past the wildcard round of the playoffs made it abundantly clear that his age defying magic was beginning to wear off. But any scenario other than Tom Brady retiring as a Patriot was unthinkable. The Patriots without Tom Brady are like Queen without Freddie Mercury or the latest series of Star Wars movies. They might be alright to watch but they don’t work.  It’s just not the same.  Tom Brady has been a cornerstone of not only his team but the entire league, and this move signals that the writing is on the wall for the 42 year old signal caller. He’ll play a couple of more years, work on his tan in California or Florida and then ride off into the sun.

And while I’m dismayed by the landscape of the future of professional American football that this announcement heralds, I’m also quite relieved. If Tom Brady goes to Tampa Bay (and at the time of writing this is looking to be the likeliest outcome) then chances are he’ll never get another opportunity to torture the Defense of my Steelers. For too long, the aerial assault of Brady to Gronk down the seam or Brady to Edelman across the middle was simply too much to handle. I imagine that the rest of the teams in the AFC East are STILL celebrating the joyous news. Brady’s exodus opens the door for another team to claim the division championship title for the first time since 2009. With Brady gone, the smart money is on the Buffalo Bills to take over as Kings of the East, especially after the shock acquisition of Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings. But that’s another story for another time.

And what about fallout from the team he leaves behind? The only professional team he has ever known? Well, there doesn’t seem to be any. At least not publicly. Both Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick have shown nothing but love for their former QB. And why wouldn’t they? Brady’s move down the coast is essentially his retirement plan.  He’ll play for 2 or 3 years and make millions of dollars.  And it’s hard to begrudge him that.  Love him or hate him, Tom Brady has provided us all with a whole lot of entertaining football over the years. And when he hangs it up, the NFL just won’t be the same.

The Pats & The Dubs; How New England and Dublin GAA are basically the same team.

On Saturday September 14th, Dublin saw off a brave Kerry effort to claim their 5th All Ireland title in a row. The display of total dominance and self belief put on by the Dubs is hard not to compare to a certain NFL franchise.  Yes that’s right folks, I’m talking about the New England Patriots.  New England have become annual favorites to raise the Lombardi, and rightfully so. Since 2008, the Pats have appeared in 6 championship games, claiming 3 of those.  It’s gotten so ridiculous at this stage that even 2 weeks into the 2019 season, and another Patriots Super Bowl appearance is already being predicted. And unless something drastic happens with the structure of the GAA, (or if another county can find some sort of Dean Rock Kryptonite) the boys in blue are almost a shoe in for a 6th Sam Maguire in a years time.

Dublin GAA claimed a historic 5 All Ireland’s in a row.

Perhaps the most common trait that these two storied organizations share is being absolutely despised outside of their own fan bases. It could be that I’m biased, but whenever either team is playing, I almost always side with their opponent.  And I think the reason for this is that most  (not all mind you) supporters display a certain type of arrogance whenever either team is playing.  Now maybe they’ve earned this right – both teams are after all the undisputed best in their respective codes, but there is no need to be downright cocky about it. Patriots and Dublin fans alike show a blind belief and refuse to accept that there is even the smallest chance they will lose.  Additionally, they both seem to have attracted an awful lot of bandwagon supporters over recent years. I don’t know about you, but I have definitely noticed an influx of Dublin GAA and Tom Brady jerseys about the place. 

Patriots fans seem to be everywhere these days.

The Dublin footballers and the Patriots both happen to have wiley coach at the helm, undoubtedly a major factor in their joint success. Bill Belichick and Jim Gavin are renowned for their methodical preparation and “no bullshit’ approach.  Belichick is famous for refusing to allow a blizzard to interfere with his practice schedule, informing players they would be expected to train regardless of the snow. Gavin, a former Air Corps Pilot and Flight Instructor, applies his military expertise and precision to his training sessions. And it shows. Dublin’s playing style under him has been almost surgical, patiently picking apart their opponents with precision passing and waiting for just the right moment to launch a strike.

Jim and Bill also share somewhat of a dispassionate relationship with the media.  Bill’s responses to questions from members of the press are typically terse and god help you if you ask him something not directly related to the game at hand.  And let’s not forget when Jim refused to speak to RTE in retaliation to not being provided with video footage of his footballers. Taking no prisoners whatsoever.

By the way, have you ever seen either of them smile during a game? Didn’t think so. In fact, the only time the two men smile is when they win big. Like Super Bowl or Sam Maguire big.

Bill’s trademark scowl

We can complain all want about the unrelenting supremacy of both teams, but we must acquiesce to the fact that they are the standard to which all challengers must reach before even dreaming of taking their place. Some have come close – The LA rams stilted the Patriots offense to a 13-3 victory in February, but ultimately they couldn’t find the firepower to finish the job. Similarly, Dublin needed two go’s to kill off Kerry in this years All Ireland. While the would be de-throners fell short, it can only be a matter of time before either sport becomes competitive once more.

The Gaelic Gridiron Superbowl Guide

Super Bowl Sunday is almost upon us and the entire nation is getting in on the act. What was once a niche event on the Irish sporting calendar has grown to become a nationwide celebration of all things USA. As American Football continues to grow in popularity here, pubs up and down the country are stocking up on hot dogs as they prepare to feed fans until the wee hours of Monday morning. It’s a far cry from a few years ago when you’d be hard pushed to find even one place that would invest in a late licence in order to stay open to show it.

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Superbowl Sunday in Dublin

Whether this Is your first Super Bowl, or your tenth (god I’m old) it’s essential that you find the right spot to settle in and cheer on whoever is playing against Tom Brady. For the ultimate Super Bowl atmosphere and experience, nowhere beats The Woolshed. Dublin’s best sports bar transforms into NFL world with every screen in the place (that’s a lot) showing the game. 3 bars across two floors ensures that you’re never waiting too long for a drink. And if you’re feeling peckish during the game, you can literally get a bucket of wings delivered to your table. What more could you want?

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If you don’t fancy the trek down Parnell Street then have no fear because the south side of the city also has plenty of options to watch the Super Bowl! An old favorite of mine is Sinnotts, beside St.Stephen’s Green.  Sinnotts has a huge cinema style screen as well as several smaller screens so you’re guaranteed to have a good view from wherever you’re sitting. Although if you do want to be sitting I’d recommend getting in early as both The Woolshed and Sinnotts will be packed by 9pm at the latest. Grub wise, Sinnotts does some pretty savage platters, perfect for picking on throughout the night. The burgers are also decent. Wherever you end up, there’ll be no shortage of soakage options, ensuring that you can keep the pints up till the 4th quarter!

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Sinnotts is an absolute gem.

*If you do hit The Woolshed, make sure to keep an eye out for the West Dublin Rhinos American Football team!

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Once you’ve decided where to watch the game and sorted yourself out with some wings – it’s time to play NFL jersey bingo! Ireland has a huge sleeper NFL fan base, and Super Bowl Sunday brings them all out of the woodwork. While it’s a given that there will be an unbearable amount of Patriots jerseys with ‘Brady’ or ‘Gronkowski’ on the back, you’re guaranteed to also see a few gems. Will you spot an ill-fated Browns Johnny Manziel jersey? Or perhaps an orange crush Denver broncos top. Those are pretty sweet.

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Whatever the outcome of Super Bowl 53, the important thing is to have the craic. Sunday will literally see the forces of Good and Evil battling it out for a year of bragging rights, and the city of Dublin is bound to be buzzing.