New England Patriots: ‘For Sale’ signs preceded Tom Brady, Bill Parcells departures

New England Patriots coaches like Bill Parcells and players like Tom Brady come and go and there is always a hint when they put their property up for sale.

Comings and goings are a fact of life for NFL coaches and players, great and good, poor or terrible. Happens every season before, during and after the season. The New England Patriots are no exception.

When a management person leaves, especially under the reign of Tom Brady at the top of the NFL, they are usually highly regarded, whether their actual record matches the hype. No. 12 covered up a lot of warts on the rest of the operation.  And there were many to make up for.

Usually, when a good or decent player leaves, it makes an impact on the fan base.

Losing a player like Deion Branch or Trey Flowers, those are very good players and their leaving is to some extent a downer for many in the New England Patriots fan base.

Conversely, when a poor or mediocre player or a lower profile coach leaves, it’s doesn’t register a blip on the Patriot fans’ radar screens. The Patriots have lost many players, coaches and personnel managers over the years. No big deal. Yet some are quite different. Quite different.

First the great New England Patriots coach

Bill Parcells was a great coach who had two Super Bowl victories on his resume when he was hired by James Busch Orthwein, then Patriots owner, to coach the New England Patriots in 1993.

Parcells set about to rebuild a moribund Patriots team, bad enough to have earned the No. 1 overall pick in that year’s NFL draft. That turned into highly regarded quarterback, Drew Bledsoe.

Parcells relationship with Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft deteriorated in 1995 or so. In 1995, Bobby Grier had assumed the position of New England Patriots’ Director of Player Personnel.

Bill Parcells evidently was unhappy with his role in personnel matters, and after that season he decided to leave the Patriots. It was then that he made his famous quote, as reported in the New York Times,

”It’s just like a friend of mine told me,” Parcells said. ” ‘If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.’ ”

Here’s a key indicator, if my memory serves me (please correct me if I’m wrong), Bill Parcells had precipitously put his home in Massachusetts up for sale a good while before he announced his decision to resign from the Patriots as head coach. Before.

And again if I’m not mistaken, before the New England Super Bowl appearance after the 1996 season. It was an odd but foreboding event. And maybe, was it of precedent?

New England Patriots All-Time legend Tom Brady puts his Massachusetts home on the market before the season starts.

As if history was repeating itself, on August 6, 2019 the inimitable Tom Curran and Phil Perry of nbcboston.com reported the New England Patriots all-time greatest player, a 20-year legend and holder of bounteous Patriot and NFL records who for nearly 20 years had worn No. 12 had put his home on the market. What was this all about?

ftw.usatoday.com quoted Tom Brady at the time,

“You shouldn’t read into anything,” Brady said when asked if the real estate listing means that he’s almost done as a Patriot. “I think it takes a long time to sell a house. My house is a little bit of an expensive one, so it doesn’t fly off the shelf in a couple weeks.”

Well, ultimately he, like Bill Parcells, headed out the door. But how could we misread the tea leaves? Here’s how.

First, Brady signs a two-year contract that’s really a one-year contract, and critically importantly, it includes a no franchise tag clause. How’s that? Then, before the season starts, he puts his suburban (Brookline, if that’s suburban) house on the market. Then, he exhibits a totally atypical attitude throughout the entire season in press conferences.

Duhhhh, so why couldn’t we all read the tea leaves?

Easy, we didn’t want to.

We wanted to think it would all get worked out in the final analysis. We thought it was inconceivable, unthinkable and absolutely impossible that No. 12 would ever leave the New England Patriots and his fans and put on the uniform of another team. Well, as we now know, it wasn’t. We were wrong.

So, what’s the moral of the story, the next time a major sports star or coach puts his home on the market while still in place on a Boston team, get ready, brace yourselves, he or she is on the way out the door. I definitely won’t miss it the next time and be crushed when it happens. Definitely not.

I hope.