Mike O’Brien ‘23
Chief Sports Editor
For Tom Brady, winning the Super Bowl nearly two weeks ago is already old news. He’s been there before; he’s already done that. But this one perhaps means more to his legacy than all the others. He now has more Super Bowl victories than any franchise in NFL history. Seriously. For such an unbelievable, historic fact, we need to break down how Brady got here and what this means for the league as a whole.
Few believed that Brady would have a successful stint in Tampa Bay, let alone win another Lombardi. Doubters saw the move to Florida as a classic twilight phase career move and that he would happily retire into the sunset with six rings soon enough.
But Brady undoubtedly heard the noise and used it as motivation, like he always does. After guiding the Bucs to a formidable regular season, Brady went on to defeat three different Super Bowl MVP winning quarterbacks in the same postseason; Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Patrick Mahomes; becoming the first quarterback to ever accomplish this feat.
Although Brady’s defenses have been astounding in his last two Super Bowl appearances after holding the Rams and Chiefs to no touchdowns, he was a sideline presence to keep his squads motivated.
As a Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and 49ers fan, I had been holding out to acknowledge Brady as the greatest football player ever, but now there is no doubt. To win his fifth Super Bowl MVP at age 43 is incomparable to any other player in NFL history’s pedigree in terms of career longevity and consistency. Although Brady had a ten year period with no Super Bowl wins, Father Time cannot seem to contain Brady no matter how long he seems out of the picture.
In the case of his longtime teammates, he has proven to make his teammates better. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has played with him for his entire career from New England to Tampa Bay, winning four Super Bowls and building his resume as the potential greatest tight end of all time. However, if you look at his teammates like wide receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman, although their stats have taken slight dips, they have never been able to return to the big stage without Brady like Gronk has.
And perhaps nobody has struggled more without Brady than Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. After a rift in their relationship occurred after Belichick made it clear that he wished to roll with younger quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the future, many wondered which was the “system” that made the Pats dynasty what it was. And this season made it clear who was the system: Brady. After acquiring Cam Newton, granted past the prime of his career, Belichick and the Patriots struggled this season, missing the playoffs, which was a complete anomaly for the league.
Although Garoppolo made a name for himself by appearing in the Super Bowl in a losing effort with the 49ers, it seems that New England will suffer with the repercussions of letting Brady walk for a long time. Although Brady may have wanted to leave while still having a better relationship with the franchise to face a new challenge in another world, it seems that Robert Kraft was right in wanting Brady to stay in New England for the duration of his career.
Along with the Super Bowl wins, Brady has consistently proven to be a regular season warrior as well. He ranks second all time in passing yards with 79,204 yards, first in touchdowns with 581, first in winning percentage with .769, and not to mention his three MVP awards as well.
Even in Brady’s Super Bowl losses against the Giants twice and the Eagles once, neither losses were his fault. Nick Foles’ playoff run unfolded into one of the greatest underdog stories in league history, and Brady still threw for over 500 yards in that game. If you simulated the Helmet Catch play 100 times, I am confident that that catch gets made once. It was nothing short of a miracle. The Giants’ second ring, won with a dagger of a beautiful sideline throw from Eli Manning to Mario Manningham, was one in which Brady also had no control over.
It seems that the league and its fans have finally gone from a hate for Brady, because he wasn’t on their favorite team and they had grown tired of him always winning, to a mass respect for his career accolades. He has nothing left to prove, but an eighth Super Bowl win could propel him from the greatest football player of all time to the greatest athlete of all time.
After beating an amazingly talented player in Patrick Mahomes who has entered the potential future G.O.A.T. conversation, their head to head result shows that Mahomes will have to wait a bit longer to reach that stratosphere, possibly until Brady leaves the league. Who knows how much longer he will play football, but for the time being, NFL fans need to realize the greatness that they have witnessed for the last 15-plus years and acknowledge that regardless of team loyalty, there will never be another Tom Brady.