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Tom Brady x Derek Jeter

I went to a football game this past weekend.

This week, I’ll tell you about it through 5 stories.

Today is Tom Brady x Derek Jeter – “A story of how we got here”

 

I Wasn’t There

I was not around to witness the emergence of Derek Jeter. For his first few years in the MLB, I legitimately was not around. Derek Jeter started his journey in the MLB in 1995 and he won the Rookie of the Year in 1996. I started my journey in life in 1998 when Jeter placed 3rd in the MVP vote. As Derek Jeter went on to go to 5-straight All-Star games from 1998 to 2002, I was learning how to draw stars and spell it out.

I was raised into a Yankees household. As I learned, played, and watched the game of baseball I adopted the Yankees as my own. I fully bought into the players they had. I figured they had to all be the best baseball players ever. I got to learn their names and collect their baseball cards and pretend to be them (if they were left-handed hitters or not) while playing Wiffle ball in the backyard.

The first time I got to see Derek Jeter play was on March 18th, 2003. By that time in his career, Derek Jeter had over 1000 games played, had 1390 hits and 117 Home Runs. He was an established professional. So, obviously during the game I went to the Yankees lost 5-1 and Derek Jeter went 0-4 (though with an RBI groundout).

I did not get to witness the “Flip Play” or “Mr. November”. I was probably fast asleep those nights. Though, Derek Jeter did become a favorite player of mine. He was a perfect role model for a young kid obsessed with baseball: he played the game hard, he never acted out, and he showed how to be gracious in winning and in defeat.

He was the face of baseball.

 

I Wasn’t Watching

I was much too focused on learning how to swing a plastic baseball bat than to pay attention to any round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Needless to say, I definitely was not watching the 6th round that year…if I could have even counted that high (I would’ve been one and a half). I was definitely fast asleep when Tom Brady- then a back-up quarterback- led the New England Patriots to a victory in SB XXXVI. I was probably in bed when he did so again in SB XXXVIII, and again in SB XXXIX. By the time Tom Brady had 3 rings, I was learning what roman numerals were.

I was not raised on football. On Sundays in the fall I was at church in the morning and then on the soccer field in the afternoon. Like all boys I liked the rough nature of football, watching my friends play during recess (I played soccer instead). Football looked fun but it also was not my passion. But, soon enough it would become one of my passions.

As best I can remember, I was at my friend John’s house. He lived 3 roads up from my street, so as a 3rd grader I was allowed to ride by bicycle up to his house alone. John had a video game called “Madden”, a PlayStation 2, and we would play together against the computer. As it was John’s house he got to pick the team we would play with. John- for whatever reason that I’m still not sure of to this day- was a fan of the New England Patriots. Throwing and catching long passes between Tom Brady and Randy Moss while racking up ludicrous scores against the CPU. It is easy to see why I became a fan of the New England Patriots.

This evolved into getting my Dad back into the sport, watching recorded football games on our TV (and skipping all the commercials) after getting home from soccer games each Sunday. After we’d catch up- which usually happened during the halftime show- we’d both go outside and throw a football around. I’d make up crazy plays about bouncing off of trees and my Dad and I would score touchdowns against the imaginary defenders in our front yard. Always winning games late on miraculous final drives. Then we’d go in and watch Tom Brady do the same.

The first time I got to see Tom Brady play was on December 21st, 2014. By that time in his career, Tom Brady had thrown over 52,000 yards, nearly 400 touchdowns, and had won 3 Super Bowls. He was a lock for the Hall of Fame by that point in his career. Of course, Tom Brady would throw for just 182 yards, just 1 touchdown, and 1 interception in a slight 17-16 win over the New York Jets

He was- and still is- the face of football.

 

Through Thick and Thin

I first started really watching the New York Yankees in 2003. The Yankees won 101 games, made it to the World Series, and lost. Sticking with the team in 2004, I saw the Yankees win 101 games again, as their biggest rival- the Boston Red Sox- broke the “Curse of the Bambino”.

I first started really watching the New England Patriots in 2007. The Patriots won 16 games, made it to the Super Bowl, and lost. Sticking with the team in 2008, I saw the Patriots win 11 games (without Tom Brady; missing the playoffs), as one of their biggest rivals- the Pittsburgh Steelers- won the Super Bowl.

I want it clear that am not a band-wagon fan.

Watching the Yankees, I saw a lot of very promising teams that fell short. They made the playoffs almost every year, they often won their division, and they had great talents on the team surrounding Derek Jeter. I missed their last World Series Championship in 2000, and it took them 9 years until they won it all again. Those 9 years were when my development with the team began as I became at true fan.

Watching the Patriots, I saw a lot of very promising teams that fell short. They made the playoffs almost every year, the often won their division, and they had great talents on the team surrounding Tom Brady. I missed their last Super Bowl Championship in 2004, and it took them 10 years until they won it all again. Those 10 years were when my development with the team began as I became at true fan.

My allegiance to both is odd as a kid from Northern New Jersey. Maybe if I was from Connecticut my fandom would be logical from geography, though regardless rooting for a New York-based and a (near) Boston-based team is odd. However, at this point in my life, I’m not giving up on either team. I was brought in through family and friends, embraced them as my own, and will root for them forever.

 

The Last Time

The last time I saw Derek Jeter play was on September 20th, 2014. It was the 8th to last game in his career and the Yankees were playing against the Toronto Blue Jays. Two days before Derek Jeter hit what became his last MLB Home Run. In this game Derek Jeter went 2-5 with an RBI double in the 9th inning. The Yankees would end up losing the game 6-3.

The last time I had seen Tom Brady play was on December 27th, 2015. He threw for 231 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception in a 26-20 overtime loss to the New York Jets. Next year, the Buccaneers do not have any scheduled games against the New York Jets or New York Giants. Unless they end up playing the Giants in a playoff game as an away team (which will never happen), he’s not coming back to the Meadowlands until at least 2023.

I couldn’t let my last game seeing Tom Brady be a loss.

Especially not to the Jets.

It only made sense to go to the game this past Sunday.

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