There may not be an I in team, but…
So Tom Brady is no longer a Patriot. That’s like saying the Statue of Liberty isn’t American. OK, it’s French; we know; but like the rest of us immigrants, it hasn’t been home for a long time, and that’s close enough.
Eli Manning is no longer a Giant, and the Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins for next to nothing. The only constant in Team seems to be change, and that is no accident.
To the Pros, a team is a one year concept. What is “best for the team” this year has little or nothing to do with what might be considered best next year. Stars can be traded or forced into retirement; marginal players have the life expectancy of a tin shed in a hurricane; and coaches, managers, et al., seem to come and go as fast as line changes in a hockey game.
For the Fans, it’s a different story. Our loyalty is to a city, or a franchise, or a player. It’s more like family. You might like to trade your little brother for a sibling to be named later, but it’s likely he is in for the duration. For us, that team logo is sacred: not to be bent, folded, spindled or mutilated — and if you get that reference, you’ve just dated yourself up there with me.
Anyway, every change to the sacred team is unwelcome to a Fan — we want our family to stay just as it is. Even if they are steady losers, they are our losers, and we love them.
Until they get traded, that is; or worse yet, seek better paychecks through free agency. If you read the comment section of the stories about Tom Terrific leaving, half are full of thanks, and the other half sound like a symphony orchestra warming up — not a harmonious note to be heard.
So are our affections just as fickle as those of team management? Maybe during a player’s active years, but once retired, those rose colored glasses of memory get placed firmly on our inner eyes.
When we think about players of yore, especially those of our youth, not a harsh note can be heard and not a negative cast of thought is to be found.
Nor should it be. Sports are not played in real time but in a special time out of youth and remembrance. In a short while, Tom Brady will always be that guy who led his team to unbelievable last-second victories and impossible comebacks, and those memories will live far beyond whatever financial machinations mark their coda.