- - Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The first time the Washington Redskins faced Tom Brady in the NFL regular season, the departing New England Patriots quarterback had one Super Bowl ring on his finger.

Steve Spurrier’s team was not impressed.

Yes, that’s right — the Redskins made Brady’s life miserable on that Sept. 28, 2003 afternoon at FedEx Field (attendance reported at 83,632), defeating the Patriots, 20-17. Brady threw three interceptions that day — Champ Bailey, Ifeanyi Ohalete and Rashad Bauman all picked off the future Hall of Famer, who completed 25 of 28 passes for 289 yards.

Washington quarterback Patrick Ramsay (remember him?) didn’t exactly light it up either.

He went 10 for 22 with 147 yards, and Washington ran for a total of 119 yards, so it wasn’t a high-powered Spurrier offense that beat New England that day, it was Brady.

That hasn’t happened often to New England, and Brady wouldn’t let it happen again against Washington.

The two franchises faced each other four more times over Brady’s career in the regular season, with the Redskins losing by a combined score of 146-51, including a 52-7 drubbing of Joe Gibbs’ squad in 2007 and a woeful 33-7 beating last year.

Brady was at the beginning of a storybook legacy as the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL when he lost to Washington. He would go on to play in eight more Super Bowls over his 20-year career, winning five more of them — including that 2003 season.

The Patriots, after that loss to Washington dropped them to 2-2, didn’t lose a game the rest of the season, finishing 14-2 and going on to defeat the Carolina Panthers 32-29 in Super Bowl.

The Redskins? That victory gave them a 3-1 record to open the season. They would win just two more games that year.

Spurrier was gone.

Brady remained — and remains, just not in New England, as the quarterback announced on his Instagram account Tuesday morning.

On St. Patrick’s Day, of all days in an Irish city like Boston, fans learned that their hero’s time in New England was over and he would be moving on.

“To all my teammates, coaches, executives and staff, Coach Belichick, RKK and the Kraft family and the entire organization … I couldn’t be the man I am today without the relationships you have allowed me to build with you,” Brady wrote. “Our team has always set a great standard in pro sports and I know it will continue to do just that.

“Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM accomplishments. MA has been my home for twenty years. It has truly been the happiest two decades I could have envisioned in my life and I have nothing but love and gratitude for my time in New England,” Brady wrote.

He concluded with this — “The support has been overwhelming — I wish every player could experience it. I can’t thank you enough for the support of our team. The packed training camps and sold out stadiums are mostly the victory parades. I have been so blessed to share them with you all.”

There have been very few athletes in America who have been able to give so much to fans.

We have beloved athletes in Washington whom we have shared greatness — Max Scherzer, Alex Ovechkin, Darrell Green and others.

But in terms of sheer volume of success, few anywhere, in any sport, compare to Brady.

NBA great Bill Russell led the Celtics to 11 championships and his revered place in Boston lore is secure. But Brady’s six Super Bowls came during an era when celebrity and sports emerged as social media fuel. We’ve never seen anything like him.

Now Brady, 42, moves, and his history with him, to a new team.

But like Joe Montana finishing his career in Kansas City, the post-Patriots portion of Brady’s story will likely be a footnote.

Washington may see Tom Brady again, but it won’t be the same. It will be more of a novelty act than watching royalty.

Last fall, in a Ghost Town Field filled with New England fans, King Brady completed 28 of 42 passes for 348 yards and three touchdowns. It was Jay Gruden’s last game as Redskins coach.

“It was ridiculous and pretty amazing,” he told reporters “It felt like a home game. And right from the time that we got to the hotel yesterday afternoon, to run in after the game, it was pretty sweet. We appreciate all the support down here and it felt good to come down here and get a win in front of them.”

How sweet was it? Brady probably never forgot that 2003 loss to the Redskins. He probably remembered every loss over his 20 years in New England. There weren’t many of them.

Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan podcast Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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