The New England Patriots' dynasty will end at some point. That's a fact.
But how it ends is a topic for fascinating debate.
At the center of that debate: Who will leave New England first? Quarterback Tom Brady, who will turn 42 in August? Or head coach Bill Belichick, the NFL's second-oldest head coach at age 66?
Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson, who played five seasons with both legends from 2000 to 2004, doesn't see Brady or Belichick going to another team. But if one were to retire first, his money is on Brady.
Here's Johnson's theory, which he laid out Wednesday night on "Boston Sports Tonight:"
I think (Belichick is) going to outlast Tom. You know why? Because his legacy is more important to him than anything. He wants to prove he can do it without TB12.
So, he's going to outlast Tom so he can show people he can win without Tom. He doesn't need Tom to be the greatest coach of all time.
I think he would like to show that. I think he would have loved to have shown what he can do with Jimmy Garoppolo as his quarterback and being disconnected from Tom for the latter part of his career.
Johnson isn't the first person to have this thought. If you believe the reports, Belichick intended to groom Garoppolo as Brady's successor and keep the Patriots' dynasty running smoothly after Brady walked away.
And while Belichick appears firmly cemented as the greatest coach of all time, there still are detractors who believe he wouldn't have won five Super Bowls in New England without Brady.
This is all just speculation, of course. No one knows what Brady and Belichick are really thinking, and there's no indication either plans to walk away anytime soon. But if the Los Angeles Chargers were to send the Patriots to an early playoff exit Sunday, the wheels may start spinning more quickly.
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