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Tom Brady, Cam Newton and the Bitter Divorce From Sports Teams

Brady Newton

Tom Brady and Cam Newton do not share a lot in common.

One has been to nine Super Bowls and won six of them. The other has been to one and lost it.

But they share this: each is leaving the only National Football League team for which he has ever played. Brady is on his way from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Newton is on the Carolina Panthers’ trading block.

Both Brady and Newton left lasting legacies on their teams. Yet each is leaving with hard feelings.

Tom Brady, Cam Newton, and Moving On

Brady spent 20 seasons with the Patriots. He went from a sixth-round draft pick from the University of Michigan to one of the most decorated quarterbacks in NFL history.

Newton, having spent nine years with the Panthers, came into the league as their overall No. 1 draft choice after his Auburn Tigers won the 2010 National Championship. He became the first rookie quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards in a season and earned his lone Most Valuable Player Award in 2015.

Among Brady’s defining NFL games, were the 20-17 victory over the “Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI that began the Patriots’ dynasty, and the comeback from a 28-3 deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime in Super Bowl LI.

Newton brought an enduring panache every time he stepped onto the field. While his tenure with the Panthers was littered with injuries, Newton showed his raw athleticism and energy, throwing the ball while scrambling and excessively celebrating after he made a big play.


Brady’s departure has been on the horizon since 2018. In a report published by ESPN, New England head coach Bill Belichick wanted to move on from Brady and go with Jimmy Garoppolo as his starting quarterback.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, however, still believed Brady had some good years left in him and traded Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2018 second-round draft pick. The speculation about the Brady and Belichick relationship increased, yet both parties maintained that they possessed a lot of respect for one another.

Despite Brady leading the Patriots to a sixth Super Bowl to end the 2018 season, the Patriots were reluctant to extend his contract. For years, Brady took a pay cut so the organization could put a team around him to succeed.

It took until August of 2019 for Brady to get a $20.25 million signing bonus and a provision for the Patriots to not franchise tag him in 2020 and beyond. With that, Brady’s departure was virtually a given.

For Newton, the split was inevitable.  With the Panthers quarterback recovering well from his foot surgery last December, the franchise remained committed to making him the starter, according to a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

But with coaching changes, along with the fact Newton still has one year remaining on his contract, it is evident that Panthers management wants to go in a different direction while shoring up cap space.


On Wednesday, the Panthers announced that Newton was granted permission to be traded. This, however, contradicted the quarterback’s version of events.

“You forced me like this,” Newton said on a Panthers Instagram post “I love the Panthers to death and will always love you guys. Please do not try and play me, or manipulate the narrative and act like I wanted this.”

Brady took a different approach in saying goodbye to his former team.

“Pats Nation will always be a part of me,” Brady said in his recent Instagram post. “I will always love you and what we have shared—a life full of fun memories.”

Divorce is never easy. For pro athletes, being traded or released is a part of the business.

As Brady and Newton, two different quarterbacks, have demonstrated this week, a player’s loyalty to one franchise is difficult to achieve and maintain over the course of a career.

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images


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