FOXBORO, MASS. (WHDH) - Six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady announced Tuesday that he would be leaving the New England Patriots after serving as the centerpiece of a dynasty that spanned two decades.

Brady’s decision prompted a quick reaction from Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick, New England’s sideline boss, who stood by the 42-year-old in the biggest of games after drafting him in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft.

In a statement, Belichick called Brady one of the “original creators” of the Patriots dynasty, a “tone setter,” and a “bar raiser.”

“Tom was not just a player who bought into our program. He was one of its original creators. Tom lived and perpetuated our culture. On a daily basis, he was a tone setter and a bar raise,” Belichick said. “He won championships in three of his first four years on the field and in three of his final six seasons with us, while competing for championships in almost every season in between. This is a credit to Tom’s consistency and what separates him. He didn’t just perform. He didn’t just win. He won championships over and over again.”

Belichick also shed light on his relationship with Brady, saying his decision to depart New England will not change “how unfathomably spectacular” his time in Foxborough was for the organization and fans of the team. He also said that it was a “privilege” to coach Brady.

“Tom and I will always have a great relationship built on love, admiration, respect, and appreciation. Tom’s success as a player and his character as a person are exceptional. Nothing about the end of Tom’s Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was,” Belichick added. “With his relentless competitiveness and longevity, he earned everyone’s adoration and will be celebrated forever. It has been a privilege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years.”

Belichick went on to call Brady a “special person” and the “greatest quarterback of all-time.”

“I am extremely grateful for what he did for our team and for me personally,” Belichick said of the three-time NFL MVP. “Sometimes in life, it takes some time to pass before truly appreciating something or someone but that has not been the case with Tom. He is a special person and the greatest quarterback of all-time.”

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Kraft, saddened by the news of Brady’s departure, said that he loves Brady “like a son.”

“How do I possibly sum up the depth of my gratitude to Tom Brady for what he’s given us these past 20 years, or the sadness I feel knowing it’s ending? I love Tom like a son and I always will. He has brought so much happiness to me personally and to all of our fans,” Kraft said.

Kraft added that it was his hope for Brady to retire as a Patriot after hoisting a seventh Lombardi Trophy.

“I had hoped this day would never come, but rather that Tom would end his remarkable career in a Patriots uniform after yet another Super Bowl championship,” Kraft said. “Unfortunately, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement to allow that dream to become a reality. While sad today, the overwhelming feeling I have is an appreciation for his countless contributions to our team and community.”

When Brady ultimately hangs up his cleats and shoulder pads, there will be a massive celebration in Foxborough to honor his illustrious, record-breaking career, according to Kraft.

“There simply will never be another Tom Brady. I now look forward to the day we can bring him back home to New England to celebrate his Patriots career, his endless achievements and his legacy as the greatest of all time. I love him very much,” Kraft concluded.

It’s not yet clear where Brady will play in 2020.


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