By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — We have to admit that the Boston sports scene has been on a pretty good run the last two decades. There have been a lot of parades through the streets of Boston, a run of championship after championship that won’t be replicated ever again.
One of the gentlemen at the forefront of this unprecedented run of success was Tom Brady, who helped guide the Patriots to a ridiculous six Super Bowls over the last 20 years. Now, Brady is heading to Tampa Bay, essentially signifying the end of the Patriots dynasty as we know it.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, and one that is going to get harder come September when Brady takes the field in a Buccaneers uniform for the first time (if football actually takes place, that is). Brady in anything other than a Patriots jersey just seems … wrong.
An actual photo of that image may be too much at this time, so here’s a cartoon of it to lessen the blow.
— NFL (@NFL) March 17, 2020
Gross. It’s like Michael Jordan in a Wizards uniform, but worse.
But this is what happens in the wild world of sports. Players staying with one team for their entire career just doesn’t happen all that often anymore. Stars change teams quite frequently these days, and though it may be hard to accept at first, this wacky little marble keeps on spinning.
That doesn’t mean we can’t lament at those who got away; players we fell in love with only to see them either sign a big money deal elsewhere or get traded for whatever reason. Seeing our favorite athletes donning anything that doesn’t have our home teams’ names on the front is jarring, and takes some getting used to.
We may never be able to stomach Brady in a Tampa Bay uniform, because man are they ugggggggggly. But catching another glimpse of these once-favorites of yesteryear in enemy threads may help.
Or it will make things worse. Read on at your own discretion.
Why not start with some truly gigantic gut punches: Red Sox players who left for the Yankees.
Wade Boggs spent his first 11 years with the Red Sox, spraying hits all over the field and crushing buckets of chicken (with a few libations to wash it down). He won five batting titles and made the AL All-Star squad in each of his last eight seasons in Boston.
Then he signed a three-year deal with the Yankees and went to three more All-Star games, and then re-upped and won a World Series in 1996. The site of Boggs riding around on a horse in Yankee Stadium prompted my uncle to make a joke that made this then-12-year-old laugh a little too much.
That one hurt. Then in 1999, Roger Clemens found his way to the Yankees by way of a trade from the Blue Jays — the team he left Boston for a lucrative contract two years prior. Clemens won a Cy Young, was named to two All-Star squads and won two World Series titles with the Yankees.
At least the Sox crushed Clemens in the 2003 ALCS. Those “Where’s Roger!” chants were fun at the time.
And who can forget Johnny Damon, who helped the Red Sox win it all in 2004, only to leave for the Yankees after the 2005 season. Damon said there was no way he could play for the Yankees, and that getting the most money wasn’t his goal, but then he took the most money from the Yankees. He shaved off his beard and cut his hair, ridding himself of everything that embodied those “idiots” of 2004 to adhere to New York’s business-like ways. Boston fans did not appreciate that.
While we’re on beloved center fielders who left for the Yankees, let’s get to Jacoby Ellsbury. A homegrown talent and winner of two World Series rings with the Red Sox, he ditched Boston for a seven-year, $153 million deal from the Yankees in the winter of 2013, right after helping the Red Sox win another title.
That proved to be a costly investment by the Yankees, but it was tough for Sox fans to watch him go.
There have been more along the way. Luis Tiant went from the Sox to the Yankees at the end of the ’70s. The Yankees made Mark Bellhorn shave when he signed on during the 2005 season.
And not many people reading this got to see him, but we’ve also heard that Babe Ruth was once a member of the Red Sox before he somehow ended up on the Yankees. Imagine if John Henry had traded Mookie Betts for the rights to the Spongebob musical. That would have been something.
Mookie The Dodger
That brings us to one of the more recent Yuck moments, when Mookie Betts was sent to the L.A. Dodgers so the Red Sox could stop paying David Price — even though the Red Sox are indeed still paying David Price.
Fans are OK with Price in those L.A. threads, but not so much Mookie.
More Red Sox No Mo(re)
There seems to be a trend here with the Boston baseball team, huh? They never seemed to mind letting their own talent leave for big paydays elswhere.
The one that hit me the most when I was younger was Mo Vaughn. He just never looked right in an Angels uniform.
I got to see Mo’s first game back at Fenway, and even snuck down behind the Boston dugout for the late innings. Someone spent that time reminding Maurice of one of his favorite places to visit in Providence, which led to my uncle having to avoid explaining to my then-5-year-old brother who the “Foxy Lady” was. He simply told him to “Ask your father.”
How about Nomar Garciaparra in a Cubs uniform? That was odd, but no one seemed to mind when the Sox broke their World Series drought a few months later.
And with a championship team, there were a handful of departures from the 2004 Red Sox squad. The one that hit the hardest was Pedro Martinez leaving town for the New York Mets.
Pedro was never his Cy Pedro self after he left Boston, but we certainly missed seeing him fire fastballs every five days and his antics in the dugout in between.
And though Manny Ramirez did himself no favors at the end of his time with the Red Sox, it was still odd to see him in a Dodgers No. 99 jersey. Then in a White Sox one. Then temporarily in an Rays uniform, followed temporarily by an A’s one, and then a Rangers one. In 2016, Manny signed in Japan for a contract that also included unlimited sushi. ESPN really needs to do a 30 for 30 on the end of Manny’s days as a ballplayer.
What a weird journey for Ramirez after his days in Boston. Then again, that kinda sums up Manny rather perfectly.
There are some legends who should have never worn a second uniform. Tom Brady slides into that category. But as you’ll see, it happens.
Just look at Bobby Orr in a Blackhawks sweater. Gross.
Today in 1976, Bobby Orr inks a 5-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. pic.twitter.com/eikYlQiIOl
— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) June 8, 2017
Bobby Orr did not finish his career with the Bruins, and it was all because of his slime ball agent. Orr’s agent, Alan Eagleson, decided not to tell Orr about a contract offer from Boston that included an ownership stake in the team. Eagleson wanted Orr to sign with Chicago, and he made sure that happened.
Orr played only 26 games over two seasons for the Blackhawks.
But he wasn’t the only Bruins defenseman to spend his final years elswhere. And it actually worked out pretty well for Ray Bourque.
No. 77 never got to hoist the Stanley Cup in his 21 years in Boston. When it was clear that it would never happen in Boston, the last-place B’s sent him to Colorado in 2000. The Avs lost in the conference finals that year — in Game 7 nonetheless — but Bourque returned for one more shot at the greatest trophy in sports.
The final seconds of Bourque’s incredible career were spent lifting Lord Stanley’s chalice high above his head.
The fact he did so in a Avalanche jersey was tough, but most Boston fans were happy to see him finally accomplish his dream. They even held a rally for him at City Hall Plaza. It was unique to say the least.
And we’ll take a brief break from hockey to return to the diamond. Dwight Evans in a Baltimore Orioles uniform? No. Just no.
Dewey deserved better.
Calrton Fisk was clearly on his way to a Hall of Fame career after his 10 seasons in Boston, but the Red Sox let him become a free agent in 1980. He signed with the White Sox, where he spent the next 13 years putting the cherry on top of his career. He ended up spending more seasons in Chicago than Boston, but entered Cooperstown with a Red Sox hat on his plaque.
In Celtics lore, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Larry Bird and Kevin McHale got to spend their entire careers in Boston. Jo Jo White didn’t get the same opportunity, and spent his finals years with the Golden State Warriors and Kansas City Kings.
Even Dave Cowens finished his career elsewhere. After a two-year retirement, Big Red returned to basketball for 40 games with the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1982-83 season. He even beat the C’s in the first round of the playoffs that year. And Cedric Maxwell is back calling Celtics games on Boston radio, but the 1981 Finals MVP finished his career with the Clippers and Rockets.
When Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett (and Jason Terry and D.J. White) were traded to the Brooklyn Nets on draft night in 2013, it was understandable. Danny Ainge pulled off an absolute heist of a deal, netting a trio of first-round picks that turned into Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the foundation of Boston’s future success. (The third first-rounder was traded for a point guard a few years ago, but we’ll just let that be.)
Still, that didn’t make Pierce’s return in a Brooklyn uniform any easier. It got awfully dusty inside the TD Garden when Pierce’s tribute video played in his first trip back, a look at everything the homegrown talent had done during his time in green.
Other Patriots Who Finished Elsewhere
It only seems fitting to end with other Patriots players who didn’t end their careers as Patriots players.
We’ll start with Adam Vinatieri, who kicked the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles before he was allowed to leave for the rival Indianapolis Colts. It’s worked out quite well for both sides, with Adam winning another ring while enjoying success up until last season. The Patriots drafted Stephen Gostkowski, and have gone on to win three more titles since Vinatieri’s departure.
But at the time, fans were pretty miffed that A) The Pats let Vinatieri walk, and B) He chose to walk to the Colts.
Richard Seymour (Raiders) and Mike Vrabel (Chiefs) were bot sent packing by Bill Belchick, and both moves were head-scratchers at the time. Willie McGinest ended his career in a Cleveland Browns uniform, which didn’t look right. At all.
And then there is the section of Patriots who left for the New York Jets. Curtis Martin was a key part to the New England offense for three seasons, but then followed Bill Parcells to New Jersey in 1998. No one really blamed him, but it didn’t make it any easier to accept.
Ty Law traded in the Patriots blues for Gang Green in 2005. And then again in 2008. But he’ll always be remembered as a Patriot.
Let’s not forget about Darrelle Revis, who won a Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2014 only to re-join the Jets the following season. Fans were angry at the time, not knowing that Malcolm Butler was about to emerge as a top corner in New England, but that has smoothed over when it was clear Revis was no longer Revis, and was basically stealing money from New England’s AFC East rival.
And we won’t blame you if you forgot big Vince Wilfork briefly wearing a Houston Texans uniform. The BBQ hat and overalls he wore to announce his retirement in 2017 were much more memorable.
So there you have it. Brady wearing a Bucs uniform is going to be a tough sight to see next season, and it may be the toughest of all to accept, but we’ve gotten through it in the past.
Now let’s just hope Patrice Bergeron never goes anywhere else, and Jayson Tatum sticks around for a long, long time.