To write about sports, you have to be willing to relax grudges and concede greatness.
That’s the approach I must take with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Like other sports greats who don’t possess my fan adoration (such as Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils, as well as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers), Tom Brady is a subject for which I must rely purely on facts. Opinions wouldn’t allow me to say what I’m about to say.
Tom Brady is now, unquestionably, the greatest quarterback who has played professional football so far. His five Super Bowl rings and four Super Bowl MVP awards are enough to secure that status. But in case that’s not enough for those who see Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw and a host of others as equals, rivals or betters, there are other arguments to be made.
A lot has been made of Brady’s and the Patriots’ questionable practices — spying, deflating and generally berating — to achieve their greatness. Now that the punishments — or lack thereof in cases — have passed, all we have are the facts. And the truth of the matter is that amid all of the allegations, all of the scrutiny, all of the hatred, the Patriots have continued to thrive, ignoring or at least overcoming all of the distractions to keep claiming victories.
And all of that success has come, often, with a generally unheralded, unknown cast of characters. In the years the Patriots have won the Super Bowl, how many players on the team do you remember? Can you name one after Tom Brady? The Patriots, particularly Bill Belichick, are master talent evaluators, and they are a winning testament that it doesn’t take a whole collection of stars to stack championships.
The Patriots have also been the master of the close game. Their Super Bowl victories have come by 3, 3, 3, 4 and 6 points — a total of 19 points. It takes a lot of tact and skill to consistently win games by narrow margins. And while they lost a pair of Super Bowls as well — by the way, by 3 and 4 points — their 5-2 record in “down-to-the-wire” championships is most impressive.
Brady has been at the center of all of this.
He’s the voice — sometimes angry, sometimes cocky, never completely squelched — when things are going well and when things are going poorly.
He’s the head and arm that thinks and directs the offense in every situation.
And he’s just simply the mainstay in a franchise and a time where and when players don’t hang around that long. It’s a “impress me with more” type of world.
And Brady continues to impress us more and more. Statistically, he’s the greatest pro quarterback we’ve seen yet. And he still wants to play five more years. Now, the only debate is how far he distances himself from the other Hall of Famers he’s already passed.
I can say that with complete honest confidence, and I don’t even like the guy.