In a way, Sunday will be more of the same.

It’s another Super Bowl. Another one featuring Tom Brady. Another opportunity for the greatest to ever do it to show why he’s the greatest to ever do it.

Of course, there’s a key difference. It’s the first one with Tom Brady playing not as a New England Patriot, but a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. The first one with Brady not in New England blue, but in Tampa Bay red and pewter.

Mike Rocque of Litchfield sports his Tom Brady T-shirt and Pat the Patriot hat Wednesday. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

It’s still strange. And Mike Rocque isn’t sure how to feel about it.

“I have a rooting interest for him to do well,” said Rocque, a Litchfield resident and associate sociology professor at Bates College. “But then, at the same time, to see him throwing these beautiful passes and dropping dimes and now going to the Super Bowl, there’s almost like a feeling of jealousy: ‘Why couldn’t we have kept him for a few years?'”

For local Patriots fans, that’s the conundrum. On one hand, it’s Tom Brady, the quarterback they cheered for two decades, whose name they chanted and whose greatness they admired. But on the other, he’s playing for another team, and adding to his legacy with someone else.

For some, there’s no dilemma. They cheered for him in New England, and they’ll cheer for him on Sunday as well.

“I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want him to do well,” said Deirdre O’Brien of West Gardiner. “I just look at what he’s done. It’s been fun to watch. Why not see him rack it up? I’m all for it.”

Plenty of Patriots fans will be pulling for Brady, the franchise’s greatest player and one of the region’s greatest athletes.

Waterville’s Cathy Taylor has a dog she named Brady, and purchased a Brady Buccaneers jersey shirt after he left New England.

Cathy Taylor holds her dog, Brady, while wearing a Tom Brady Buccaneers shirt Friday in her Waterville home. In the background is her shrine to Boston sports. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Since the season started, Tampa Bay has been her second team.

Cathy Taylor holds her dog, Brady, while wearing a Tom Brady Buccaneers shirt Friday in her Waterville home. In the background is her shrine to Boston sports. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I’m very excited for him. He gave glory a last shot and it’s working out for him, which doesn’t always pan out for people,” Taylor said. “I think the Patriots are in a place this year, and maybe for the foreseeable future, where it’s going to be different. We had our time. We certainly had an amazing run, and you can’t expect that to go on forever.”

David Banister of West Gardiner likewise said he’s pulling for the quarterback who brought six championships to New England to win yet another.

“He owes me nothing. He’s given me 20 years plus of pleasure, six Super Bowls. I wish him the best and I hope he can win No. 7 for himself,” he said. “I definitely was cheering for him to get to where he is right now. If the Patriots were in it, obviously I’d be a little torn and definitely cheering for the Patriots. But the fact that he’s made it and we didn’t even come close, it’s pretty easy to be cheering for him.”

Banister said he has been pulling for Brady — who, at age 43, is the oldest player in the NFL — to continue holding off any physical decline.

“Physically, how can he do this?” he said. “You’ve got to admire that. You’ve got to appreciate that.”

But for others, like North Anson’s Robert Augustine, the rooting interest ended when Brady left for Tampa.

“As a longtime Patriots fan, it stings seeing him in the Super Bowl with another team,” Augustine, who first started cheering for Brady when he played at Michigan, wrote in an email. “I understand that the game is a business. You go where you’re going to get paid and have the best chance to win, and that’s what he did.”

Jennifer Hebert of Pittston said she’ll be rooting for Brady and the Buccaneers the way she would if the Patriots were playing.

“I think (I’ll root) just as hard. I know some people are bitter, but I think, ultimately, it is a business and he did what was best for him and his family,” she said. “I was sad to see him go and we still root for the Patriots, but we’ll be definitely rooting for him to win the Super Bowl.”

Hebert said it would be hard to root against Brady given his Patriots highlights.

“I can just remember so many nights, sitting (and watching) all the comebacks, whether it was a regular season game or a Super Bowl, and he would rally his team and come through,” she said. “Even when you thought he was down and out, he really wasn’t.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady works against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game on Jan. 17 in New Orleans. The longtime New England Patriots star will try to add a seventh ring to his collection Sunday when he and the Bucs host Super Bowl LV against last year’s champion, the Kansas City Chiefs. AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

There was conflict for some. Marc Maheu of Fairfield said it was difficult to hear the news in March that Brady was leaving the Patriots.

“I was disappointed at first, of course, because it was like, ‘Oh, gee, we had this going on, he’d done so well,'” he said. “And then, all of a sudden, it was like, ‘OK, he’s done what he was supposed to here, it’s his choice and it’s probably a good move for him.’ I just don’t hold that against him.”

Maheu will be rooting for Brady on Sunday — even though he knows it won’t be the same.

“It definitely is a different level,” he said. “I want to see him win, I enjoy seeing him win, I hope he continues to win. But is it different? Absolutely. I wouldn’t say hollow, but I would say it’s diminished a little bit.”

For the fans who aren’t rooting for Brady, or who are at least more reserved in their support, that’s the big reason. He’s still the player that they loved watching, but he’s no longer theirs.

“It’s not that double-edged (situation), a player you like to follow and your team,” Maheu said. “It’s just the player.”

O’Brien said she’s in Brady’s corner. But she knows several who aren’t.

“I was a die-hard Tom Brady fan this year. Other people in the family didn’t understand it until after the Patriots were knocked out,” she said, laughing. “I got into heated conversations with my mother-in-law.”

The fans who might not be wild about seeing Brady win again, however, know to be careful what they wish for.

“Having Tom Brady win the Super Bowl without the Patriots would sting. But at the same time, if he loses, that would be his fourth Super Bowl loss. That’s a lot of Super Bowl losses, which would become a big talking point,” Rocque said. “So I am kind of still invested in that, because I see him as a Patriot. And I don’t want him to struggle. That’s not fun.”

Forgive him, though, if he’s not jumping up and down if Brady lifts the Lombardi Trophy again.

“Tom Brady in the Super Bowl,” he said. “It’s supposed to be our thing.”


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