Unless you are a fan of the New England Patriots or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you are probably well and truly sick and tired of hearing about Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. It’s understandable. He’s been at the apex of the NFL for the past two decades, and any time someone is that good at something for that long it can be off-putting.
Well, Sunday night in Tampa, Brady gave fans of every team he doesn’t play for one more reason to dislike him. In winning Super Bowl LV in his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady showed which side of the Brady/Bill Belichick pairing should have gotten most of the credit for their remarkable run together in New England.
And if there was any doubt whatsoever regarding Brady’s status as the unquestioned greatest quarterback to ever play the game, the Golden Boy not only put it to rest but also hammered home the fact that it…ain’t…close.
To be clear, it wasn’t close before Sunday’s victory. Brady ranks second all-time in passing yards (79,204), and assuming he plays in 2021 he’s going to pass Drew Brees in that category. He’s the all-time leader in touchdown passes (581). And in career wins (by a massive margin) with 230. Brady has been to 14 Pro Bowls, has been named the Offensive Player of the Year twice and the NFL MVP three times.
Then there’s the postseason resume. Brady has played in 18 more playoff games than any other quarterback in league history. He has seven more victories in the playoffs than any other signal-caller has appearances.
Those are records—because everything with Brady is a record. Brady’s postseason winning percentage in the playoffs (.756) trails only Jim Plunkett’s (.800) among quarterbacks with at least 10 playoff starts.
Plunkett had 10 exactly. Brady has 45.
In completing 21 of 29 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns (without an interception) in leading the Buccaneers to a 31-9 rout of the favored Chiefs, Brady won his seventh Super Bowl in his 10th appearance in the sport’s showcase game.
Again—records, because everything with Brady is a record.
Consider these little tidbits: Brady now has as many Super Bowl wins since his 37th birthday (four) as Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw did in their entire careers. After winning the MVP award Sunday night, Brady has as many of those awards as any other quarterback in league history has appearances in the game.
In case you were wondering, John Elway is second in Super Bowl appearances with five—half as many as Brady. Brady has two more rings than any other quarterback has appearances.
Oh, and that seventh championship means that Brady now has more Super Bowl rings individually than any franchise in the history of the NFL.
There’s also the not-so-insignificant fact that Brady did what he did Sunday at the age of 43. That set a record for the oldest quarterback ever to start (and win) a Super Bowl, breaking the mark set by Tom Brady in Super Bowl LIII. That appearance broke the record set by Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII.
Brady has almost as many Super trips over the past five years as Elway had over 16 seasons in Denver.
While speaking to Jim Nantz of CBS Sports in the postgame celebration after Super Bowl LV, Brady made a point of stating that in his mind his 10th Super Bowl was no more special or impressive than his first.
“I’m not making any comparisons,” Brady said. “Being down here and experiencing it with this group of guys—every year is amazing. This team is world champions forever.”
Since Brady doesn’t want to say it, I will: This game was more impressive. In fact, Brady’s 2020 season was the most impressive of his entire career.
First, there’s that whole being 43 years old thing. With all due respect to Drew Brees (who will be a no-doubt first-ballot Hall of Famer), it was clear in recent years that his arm strength wasn’t what it used to be.
He’s 17 months younger than Brady.
In his 21st (!) professional season, Brady threw for 4,633 yards—his highest output in that category since 2015. Brady’s 40 touchdown passes were his most since his 50-score explosion in 2007. He was third in the NFL in passing yards, tied for second in touchdowns and had more 40-yard completions than all but three quarterbacks in the league.
Brady is better at 43 than 90 percent of the quarterbacks in the history of the game were in their primes.
Yes, in joining the Buccaneers this year, Brady received a big bump in passing-game weapons relative to last year. But that bump came with a price, as well—there were new teammates, a new coaching staff and a new offense.
All with no offseason to speak of thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Were there bumps in the road? Sure, especially early in the season. But in true Tom Brady fashion, he weathered the storm. Figured it out.
And given those impressive numbers at year’s end, seventh ring and fifth Super Bowl MVP award, he figured it out pretty damned well.
The wildest part of all? There has been no indication that Brady has any intention whatsoever of riding off into the sunset with a resume that no other quarterback will likely ever sniff. As ESPN’s Jenna Laine reported in the leadup to Super Bowl LV, Brady said he’s open to the idea of playing past the age of 45.
“Definitely. I’d definitely consider that,” Brady said. “It’s a physical sport. Just the perspective I have on that is you never know when that moment is. Just because it’s a contact sport. There’s a lot of training that goes into it. And it has to be 100 percent commitment from myself to keep doing it.”
Given his conditioning level and performance Sunday, betting against him is probably about as wise as betting against his team in a Super Bowl.
It’s understandable that some people have Brady fatigue. Since his career began, he has taken part in nearly half the Super Bowls that have been played. He just won’t stop. He’s relentless. And quite possibly a robot.
But Brady is going to be back in 2021. The Buccaneers will be one of the leading contenders to rep the NFC in Super Bowl LVI as a result. So we might as well just get comfortable, relax…
And bear witness to the absolute greatest of all time.