It wasn’t supposed to be easy, and it wasn’t. But, Tom Brady, the 43 year-old quarterback made it look that way. In his first year with a new team in his 21st season, he did what he usually does – produce, lead and win.
The question midway through the 3rd quarter of Super Bowl LV was when Patrick Mahomes, the 25 year-old quarterback would mount his comeback to make this the epic generational battle many anticipated; a potential passing of the torch. The goat and the baby goat. The buck against the kid. It never happened. Instead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9. The Chief’s upstart offense wasn’t even able to score a touchdown in what ended up being a gentlemen’s blowout. But it’s unfair, the praise and accolades poured upon Brady, when the defense, coaches and other factors played a significant role in the win. The defense was dominant against an historically lawless Patrick Mahomes lead offense. The chiefs, becoming frustrated at the perception of being targeted by referees, and the inability to gain momentum on either side of the ball.
Unfair as the praise towards Brady may be, it is deserved – and understatedly so. There are a few quarterbacks with stellar statistics, others that manage to win, while a few have made their mark as legendary leaders. None have been able to blend three traits of skills, leadership and winning to the degree of Tom Brady. You could even sense his success as the team leader listening to the speeches of the owner Joe Glazer and coach Bruce Arians on the podium. They were wise and humble enough to state they really had nothing to do with this championship, though they were clearly factors. It wasn’t just about X’s and O’s, play calls and rosters. Tom Brady elevated the psyche of the team from the field to the owner’s box. The player’s wanted to win with and for Tom Brady, and had no shame in recognizing, and celebrating his proven leadership. Anybody that can pull a guy out of retirement to play with him in a new city must have the trust and respect of his teammates. Rob Gronkowski retired in 2018 after winning his 4th championship with Tom Brady. He joined Tampa Bay after missing last year, catching 2 touchdowns from his old friend in the reunion tour finale.
There was nothing lucky about championship number 7, except the timing of being the first to win on his home field, in his first season at Tampa Bay. There may have been some luck in him even playing in the National Football League. Picked by the New England Patriots 199th in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft, his career was not in line for a perennial Super Bowl course. He was 7th in line of quarterbacks at Michigan, with comparatively no athleticism. There may have been some luck with starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe’s unfortunate injury in September of 2001 that pushed him from backup into the spotlight. That is where any luck ends. He never let anyone regret selecting him or giving him an opportunity. In the 55th Super Bowl, Brady completed 21 of 29 passes for 201 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has proven himself statistically in efficiency and sheer volume, as a league-leading passer. His endurance is key to his his status. With total career completions and passing yards, only behind Drew Brees, who has stated he would retire after this season, Brady’s 581 touchdown passes is most all-time.
Now 43, going into year 22, We begin to wonder how far he’ll go. It almost seems like Brady surprised or at least affirmed to himself he wasn’t a system player, that he could win outside of New England. When asked if he’ll be back during the FOX postgame interview, he made his confidence audible.
“You already know…,” he said.
Sure, the response was regarding if he will return rather than retire, it is easy to interpret his words as a not only a return for the season, but a promise to return to the Super Bowl. While nothing is guaranteed, Brady has established certain habits. In 21 season’s he’s appeared in 10 Super Bowls, winning 7. Even after a 9-year drought, not winning a Super Bowl from 2005 to 2013, he persevered, winning 4 from 2014 to 2021. We can point to coaches, players and systems, but in the end, winners win. Tom Brady is one of the most accomplished players to ever play in the NFL and that’s what a Greatest Of All Time does.
On the other side of the ball, Patrick Mahomes, the 2020 Super Bowl champion is destined to be next in line. The young gun, every bit of the NFL’s version of basketball’s Steph Curry, in appearance, flair and style, who was supposed to spoil Brady’s homecoming learned the torch is still lit, and in Brady’s hand. One hopes that when Tom Brady does finally head off the field for the last time, it’s in a Super Bowl, with Mahomes finally having knocked him off that mountain. We like a good, fair fight, where the best beats the best.
For now, it’s still, Tom Brady, the Old Goat; the leader, stellar passer and winner on top. He is still the king of the mountain, and neither the best of the old, or quick of the young have been able to take him down.