Tom Brady is the greatest. I can’t even begin to describe how much that hurts me to say, but it’s true. Actually, I’m not sure it really even pains me much anymore.
Growing up in Indianapolis, I watched Tom Brady shred the Colts defense over and over again. I watched him pick apart the secondary as snow fell in New England while his counterpart, Peyton Manning, tossed interceptions to Ty Law and watched Brady march his team to another Super Bowl.
Still, I adamantly defended Manning as the greatest ever because of the way he controlled games, threw touchdowns and understood the game of football.
Plus, I’m a big ol’ fat hater. I enjoy prodding the beast and grinding the gears. Brady wears Ugg boots, no way he is better than Manning’s laser-rocket arm. Brady has rings? That doesn’t matter. That’s the same reason Michael Jordan isn’t better than Lebron James — an argument we will save for another time.
But forget it all. I can sip the Brady Haterade no longer.
The guy is the greatest.
He just won his fifth Super Bowl. I know five sentences ago I said rings don’t matter, but they kind of do, at least in this case. I don’t think that can be the only argument for a player being the greatest of all time, but once you break it down, it’s mighty impressive.
The Pats won three titles in four years from 2001-2004 to open Brady’s career. Brady — a sixth-round pick in 2000 — replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001 to take the title and Super Bowl XXXVI MVP, and the rest is history.
He simultaneously ended Drew Bledsoe’s career and started his own, one that would become the best ever.
Brady’s only two Super Bowl losses were his next two — 2007 and 2011. It’s funny to say “only two Super Bowl losses,” which implies that he’s been to a ton of Super Bowls. He’s won five of seven times in the Big Game, so we can hardly fault the two losses.
Most players don’t make one Super Bowl, let alone seven. He was probably just pranking us in those two losses.
And actually, the 2007 Super Bowl — Brady’s second worst, statistically — came at the end of a nearly perfect season after the Giants’ David Tyree caught a Hail Mary with his helmet. That’s not a knock on Eli Manning or Tyree or the Giants, who were all better than the Patriots that night, but it shows that it takes a miracle to beat Brady, even at his worst.
The Patriots lost to the Giants again in 2011 but turned around and knocked off the Seahawks in 2014 thanks to an interception at the goal line to end the game.
It was this last Super Bowl, though, Super Bowl LI, that was the solidifier.
A 21-3 halftime deficit. A 28-3 deficit midway through the third quarter. Matt Ryan and the Falcons were abusing Brady and the Pats. Fans filed out of the stadium; television sets were turned off after Lady Gaga’s halftime show.
We idiotically ruled out TB12.
Brady asked guys at the local Dunkin Donuts named Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman to catch footballs for him. A first down here, another there. Then a touchdown, and another, a 2-point conversion and the first overtime game in Super Bowl history.
Then, four completions in overtime —466 yards and two touchdowns later — and an unprecedented fifth Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Brady had plenty of help along the way — his coach Bill Belichick, game winners from Adam Vinatieri and Malcolm Butler — but Brady’s been the heart and soul of the Patriots. The quarterback takes all the blame when things go wrong, so he must get the credit when things go right.
Brady has given us little of the former and tons of the latter.
He has thrown for more than 61,000 yards and 450 touchdowns and holds just about every playoff and Super Bowl record you can think of.
He even invited Turtle and Jamie-Lynn Sigler over for dinner and loaned Drama his golf club in Entourage. The guy’s a sweetheart.
But most importantly, he’s won. Five Super Bowls, four Super Bowl MVP awards.
He’s showing no sign of slowing down, either, which is terrifying because he’s the greatest quarterback to ever toss a pigskin.
And he made a believer out of the biggest hater on the planet.
Sigh….All hail Tom Brady.
Mike Pruden is the sports editor at The Sheridan Press.