Tom Brady has our brains in a blender. At age 43, the quarterback is embarking on his NFL-record 10th Super Bowl appearance and looking to add a seventh Lombardi Trophy to his mantle, which would be more than not just any player in league history — he did that with his sixth title — but more than any other franchise. Even as he goes where no other figure in football has gone before, he leaves absolutely no one around the sport surprised at this point. That’s just Tom Brady. Of course he’s going to be there in the end.
The fact that he continues to make the impossible look not just possible — but inevitable — is one of the truly underrated traits that the quarterback has put on display over the last two-plus decades. No matter if it’s a 25-point deficit in the second half of the Super Bowl or continuing to play at a high level deep into his 40s, Brady, more often than not, seems to always find a way to remain standing as the dust settles. Then, we collectively watch this brilliance unfold, nod our heads in acceptance and say, “Yeah, that makes sense. It’s Tom Brady.”
His ability to normalize winning at the highest level is what continues to solidify himself as the greatest of all time.
The latest example of this comes to us in the form of the Buccaneers rolling into Lambeau Field and defeating Aaron Rodgers and the No. 1 seeded Green Bay Packers to win the NFC and stamp their ticket to Super Bowl LV. For most, this setting would paint an opposing quarterback and his club as the sacrificial lamb for the likely league MVP in Rodgers to slay en-route to a Super Bowl appearance. However, Tom Brady continues to crash the party.
In his first season in Tampa Bay, Brady has brought all of the success and winning that he enjoyed during his twenty-year run with the New England Patriots down to the Buccaneers. In just one season in the NFC, he now has as many conference titles as Rodgers and Drew Brees, who have a combined 31 seasons in the NFC and were both just sent packing by Brady this postseason.
As quickly as you can snap your fingers, Brady has the Buccaneers — a team that currently owns the worst all-time winning percentage among all 32 NFL teams and was just 7-9 a season ago — on the brink of a championship. He’s also gaining some style points in the process, with the Bucs being the first team in Super Bowl history to play the big game in their home stadium.
“The belief he gave to this organization that it could be done,” said head coach Bruce Arians when he was asked what Brady brought to the Bucs. “It only took one man.”
Of course, this latest trip to the Super Bowl does a tremendous amount for Brady as he continues to raise the bar of his status as the greatest of all time. The obvious nugget as it relates to Brady’s successful season in Tampa is that he’s still winning at a ridiculous clip without Bill Belichick, the co-mastermind behind New England’s dynasty. While this certainly does help Brady’s case in the tug of war between him and Belichick for who deserves more credit for the Patriots’ success over that run, what the quarterback is doing currently stretches further than that.
What we’re witnessing from Brady is arguably the greatest second act of any all-time great in North American sports.
In 1935, Babe Ruth played just 28 games for the 38-115 Boston Braves and hit six home runs following a 15-year career with the New York Yankees. Michael Jordan’s Wizards went 74-90 over the two seasons he spent in Washington (2001-2003) and never sniffed the playoffs. Even Joe Montana was only able to get the Kansas City Chiefs to the conference title game before falling short of the Super Bowl during the 1993 season. Make no mistake, this is the class the Brady has put himself in and he’s blowing his peers out of the water with what he’s doing at his age and this stage of his career with a brand new team.
While we may not be surprised by what he’s accomplishing at this point, what Tom Brady is putting together likely will never be matched again. And he’s still running up the score.