Patriots Nation is wounded after this weekend's uncharacteristically early playoff exit for the team that has dominated the NFL for the better part of the past two decades.
“I still love the Patriots but that was a brutal loss,” said Patriots fan John Redwine of Franklin, two days after.
“I sat in my shower fully clothed crying after, and I thought about how we’re not going to have a parade this year, and that also made me emotional,” said Madison Chaialee of Brockton.
What’s making Pats fans more emotional now is whether this loss signals the end of the Patriots’ football dynasty.
“It certainly feels like they’re in need of a reboot,” said Boston Globe sportswriter Dan Shaughnessy.
Shaughnessy says a lot of New England’s future success rides on whether Tom Brady – who’s an unrestricted free agent come March – sticks with the team.
“I would love to see him stay here, play year to year. It doesn’t feel like he’s interested in those types of deals anymore, and I think the coach, Belichick, it feels to me like he’s ready to move on,” he said.
But Shaughnessy says that power trifecta of Belichick, Brady and Kraft have defied the odds for a long time – and anyone who’s bet against them in the past, has generally lost.
“The NFL is designed to have you go down and come back up. And have you go back down, and the Patriots have stayed up,” Shaughnessy said.
More on Tom Brady's Future
One person hoping the team continues its winning ways is Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who says he’d give Brady permanent keys to the city if he sticks around for another Super Bowl run.
“One thing about Tom Brady is he likes challenges, and if you’re listening Tom, you got knocked out in the first round so the challenge is to get us back to the Super Bowl next year,” Walsh said.
Brady said in his post-game press conference that retirement was “pretty unlikely” – but the big question for fans now is – will he play here or go somewhere else?