August 13, 2019
Former Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long knows a thing or two about Tom Brady.
The year before he joined the Eagles, Long won a Super Bowl with Brady and the Patriots, then went ahead and won another one by defeating Tom Brady. He's one of probably very few players, and maybe the only one, who will ever be able to say he joined and beat Brady for his championships.
Now retired, Long has been moonlighting at times for Sports Illustrated, where he recapped the final season of HBO's "Game of Thrones" and on Tuesday filled in for Jimmy Traina's regular column.
Long covered a number of hot-button issues in the NFL at the moment, including the Antonio Brown helmet saga, but his boldest assertion (or fantasy, perhaps) came in reference to Tom Brady.
This offseason, Brady, 42, signed an extension in New England that effectively amounts to a one-year deal. He'll have the option to play elsewhere in 2020 if the Patriots dynasty suddenly implodes, which is what Long hypothetically poses in his column:
Let’s get even crazier and hypothisize that Tom would like to wear a new uniform at 43 years old. There’s only one place I could see him going -- back to the Bay. And here’s how it happens. The Pats shipped Jimmy Garoppolo out West in 2017 for the 43rd overall pick and have parlayed that bounty into six players with more picks to come. Garappolo was once thought to be Brady’s heir apparent, and maybe he is after all.
Let’s say Jimmy G has a modest year (I don’t think he does) and looks like Tannehill 2.0. Next offsesaon, Brady hits the market and expresses interest in returning home to suit up for the team he adored as a teenager (in 1990). San Francisco releases Garoppolo and he ends up back in New England, where Belichek beautifully repurposes what’s perceived as damaged goods. The Niners will have no choice as the 2019 Brady-led Pats will play too well to land them a high pick in a QB-rich draft (unless they can convert their cache of picks into a top 10 prospect). The Italian Stallion leads the Pats to an unlikely Super Bowl berth where he meets -- you guessed it -- the GOAT.
Long immediately admits that his readers will "probably want what I'm smoking," which is marijuana, in case you did not know.
Growing up in San Mateo, Tom Brady idolized Joe Montana. He's now supplanted Montana as the greatest to ever play the game, according to most NFL analysts. While it's hard to picture Brady ever leaving the Patriots, Long is right that the only destination that seems fitting would be San Francisco. It'll never happen, but if it does, you'll know where you heard it first.