Who’s The Best Since Joe Montana?
In America, there have been many supersized achievements, but in football, America’s number one sport, winning a single Super Bowl is nothing less than a feat of Founding Father proportions. Some football teams … some very great teams, have been toiling to win their first Super Bowl Championship over the last 25 years of their franchise. The competition is fierce. The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots now lead the pack, with 6 Super Bowls apiece. Six, also happens to be the number of Super Bowls won by the player who many are calling the greatest since Joe Montana … Tom Brady.
Call him what you will, and despite the controversies that follow him, his hall of fame talent is undisputed. How he came to win 6 championship rings is the stuff of epic fictional sagas, except it’s all real. It happened under the brightness of live broadcast cameras, severely behind the clock, and on America’s biggest sports stages. The latest packed venue was earlier this year at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the home of the Atlanta Falcons. Brady’s team, the New England Patriots, lifted the Lombardi Trophy for a record-tying 6th time on 3 February, 2019. Again, say what you will, but rings don’t lie. They don’t lie, but rings don’t tell the whole story either.
A Journey From Michigan To The NFL
Tom Brady developed a passion for the game of football early in his life, though he was inclined to play baseball too. At Serra High School in San Mateo, CA., Brady struggled to make an impression on coaches, but finally settling on the gridiron, found his way to the University of Michigan as a football player.
The Kid From Serra High
Tom Brady had to fight for a position on the Michigan roster, a situation that was complicated by more apparently talented candidates for quarterback on the team. Brady eventually won the starting job, leading the Wolverines to big victories, including the 2000 Orange Bowl against the University of Alabama (Roll Tide).
Draft Pick 199
Those who know their football history know that Brady was a 6th round pick in the 2000 draft. The man who many are now calling the greatest QB ever, went with the incredibly low key pick of 199 back then.
Among the teams that passed on him were the New York Jets, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Pittsburgh Steelers (probably still kicking themselves for that). Whatever Coach Belichick saw in the kid from Serra High School that portended a future Hall of Fame inductee, remains largely a mystery, perhaps as much to Belichick as to anyone.
The Incredible 6 Super Bowl Rings
In New England, Tom Brady started out very much warming the bench. After all, the Patriots had a sure thing quarterback in Drew Bledsoe. They hardly needed anything new. Brady, however, made a stunning impression when the call of duty finally came. Bledsoe got injured in a game against the New York Jets, and Brady took the Patriots on a string of victories that resulted in a playoff appearance. Bledsoe would return to relieve Brady and ultimately help the Patriots make another Super Bowl appearance, but Brady would start in the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XXXVI
On February 3, 2002, against the St. Louis Rams, the Patriots entered Super Bowl XXXVI as the underdog. Brady led a dramatic last-minute drive to set up the clutch kicker, Adam Vinatieri for the winning field goal. The Patriots made lambs of the Rams and won 20-17.
Super Bowl XXXVIII
In Super Bowl XXXVIII, against the Carolina Panthers, Brady would tame the black and teal big cat, winning his second Super Bowl MVP award, and posting a 32-29 victory in the process.
Super Bowl XXXIX
Tom Brady made a second consecutive run to the Super Bowl to cap-off the 2004 season. Sending the Philadelphia Eagles flapping back to their nest, on a Liberty Bell cracking 24-21 loss.
Super Bowl XLIX
After a 10-year drought that included two losses to Eli Manning’s New York Giants, Brady found his winning form against the Seattle Seahawks. 2015, Brady was again Super Bowl MVP in a 28-24 rout that sent the birds home with their 11th man fans squawking like seagulls over a landfill bardge.
Super Bowl LI
The Patriots were once again in spectacular form for the 2016 season, charging to a league- best record of 14 to 2. On February 05th 2017, the Patriots faced a dangerous Atlanta Falcons offense led by quarterback and regular-season MVP Matt Ryan. True to his character, the “Iceman”, orchestrated a Falcons surge to a 21-3 lead at halftime. Brady would lead his offense to a dramatic second half comeback from 28-3 down, the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. The game would be decided in overtime, with the New England Patriots winning it 34-28, frying up the Falcons like a finger-linking-family-of-five-piece bucket.
Super Bowl LIII
When the Patriots again beat the talented Los Angeles Rams,13 to 3 in Super Bowl LIII, the world was not surprised. The greatness of Tom “the chin” Brady was by now, apparent to everyone, even the haters; causing many to bet on the Animal Planet Pedigree Puppy Bowl instead. Being noted as the lowest viewership of all time, it was a game that is remembered more for its record setting punts and lack of touchdowns, than for the daring athletics of the quarterbacks. The final game whistle would mark the record setting end of the lowest scoring game in Super Bowl in history.
Here are some stats for you. This game was the Patriots 11th franchise Super Bowl appearance. It was the 9th Super Bowl appearance in the Brady-Belichick era, and their third consecutive since the 2016 season. The Patriots faced a Rams team under coach Sean McVay. The Rams boasted spectacular players on both ends, with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Aaron Donald leading the league in sacks. On offense, Todd Gurley, running back, and Brandin Cooks, wide receiver, added to the Rams’ firepower. Incredibly enough, the Patriots’ game held the gamey Rams to just 3, with a brutal defense that sacked quarterback Jared Goff multiple times. Brady, in turn, was shut down by the Rams defense for much of the game, but managed a game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter… a Brady cliché at this point. The Rams failed to come back in the fourth quarter, handing New England a hard-fought 13-3 win, with wide receiver Julian Edelman winning MVP.
The G.O.A.T or The B.O.A.T?
If there has been a better football player, let alone quarterback, in the history of the NFL, the statistics would have a hard time proving the case. That, along with the grandeur of what Brady has achieved in New England, and the widespread acclaim of his competitors throughout the league, has vaulted Brady right into the QB comparisons stratosphere. People are now using Brady as the benchmark … comparing others to him.
These days, everyone from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, himself a Super Bowl champion, has declared Tom Brady the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time), while his teammates like to deflate his ego a bit (oops, I promised I wouldn’t bring up letting the air out of anything), but they like to call him the B.O.A.T. (best of all time). Like Michael Jordan in basketball, or Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky on ice, no-one is more ready to deflect the suggestion of greatness than Brady himself.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Whether another football player will eclipse what Brady has accomplished is hard to predict, but that’s the good thing about the game. Records are made to be broken, and boats are meant to sail on. Only time and tide will tell.
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