BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
I grew to love Tom Brady seven years ago. You came around to him when he played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year. His peers couldn’t help but tip their hat to him in the end.
It’s why everyone was sad that he decided to retire this week after a successful run of 22 seasons of what was an NFL Hall of Fame career.
The GOAT could have played until he was 50 years old. He was that good. He took care of himself, and with the NFL putting restrictions on how to hit the quarterback, he could have reached that goal easily.
But life gets in the way. He mentioned wanting to be with his kids often. He also talked about his wife pushing him to leave the game. At this point in his life, this becomes a priority while the kids are still young. It’s rare for parents to be with their kids because they have to go to work to pay the bills and bring food to the table. He doesn’t have to deal with those worries since he has his family set for life.
Who has it better than Brady? No one. Maybe Jeff Bezos. He retires as the face of the league by leaving his sport with 10 Super Bowl appearances, seven championships and five MVPs. He finishes with NFL records for career passing yards, touchdown passes and Super Bowl victories. Not many people can say they played NFL football and leave at the age of 44 in a sport where guys retire young because of the wear and tear of the body and mind. He comes home at night to spend time with his wife Gisele Bundchen.
I used to hate Brady, but he won me over when he led the Patriots to their fourth championship on Feb. 1, 2015 against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. He cemented himself as the GOAT then. Yes, it helped that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made the bonehead decision of having Russell Wilson throw to Ricardo Lockette that resulted in a Malcolm Butler interception rather than Marshawn Lynch running it to the end zone on the Patriots’ 1. No matter. Brady did engineer a 24-14 comeback against a team vying for a Super Bowl repeat then.
When Brady got hot late in the third quarter, he put the fear factor in Seattle. The Seahawks played scared knowing he got into their heads. This is what he does. He plants the seed of doubt in other teams knowing he will beat them. Just ask the Atlanta Falcons, who are and will always be known for blowing a 21-3 halftime lead and losing to Brady and the Patriots in the end in Super Bowl LI five years ago.
When he left the Patriots to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I was so happy. It presented an opportunity to root for him to win the Super Bowl for another team. Many football fans loved that, too. They never hated him per se. They hated the Patriots and their fanbase. For him to go to another team was cathartic for everyone. This gave football fans an opportunity to enjoy him at the twilight of his career.
It was beautiful when he won the Super Bowl last year. It’s so hard to do with so many different teams, but he pulled it out, which enhances his legacy right there.
To win seven Super Bowl championships is an impressive feat, especially after watching Patrick Mahomes stumble in the second half of the AFC Championship Game that played a role in the Kansas City Chiefs losing to the upstart Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Mahomes gets mentioned because everyone anointed him to win many championships.
Now, he may get five or seven when all is said and done. Maybe not. It’s just so hard to do. If it was easy, Dan Marino would have won a Super Bowl, Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre would have won multiple championships and Peyton Manning would have been the GOAT. This is where we appreciate Brady for winning so many Super Bowl championships. ‘
Even Bill Belichick would appreciate it and understand how hard it is to win a championship now since he has won only one postseason game without Brady in his future Hall of Fame career, and that was when he was the Cleveland Browns coach with Vinny Testaverde as his quarterback.
Winning two or three is impressive, but Brady set the bar way too high. I don’t think we will see any quarterback win seven championships in our lifetime because it’s hard to do.
Sports fans love greatness, and Brady illustrated that since he won his first Super Bowl against the then-high-powered St. Louis Rams. He was to the NFL the way Michael Jordan was to the NBA. There won’t be any NBA player like Jordan ever again, and there won’t be any NFL quarterback like Brady.
Sadly, we are going to hear fans, experts and the Skip Baylesses of the world judge quarterbacks like Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Mahomes and any other future quarterbacks to Brady since he is the standard. This would be wrong and unfair. That’s the world we live in where we love comparing others.
You know a player is great when we are going to miss him or her. Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. is one of them.
He could have played on, but he has nothing to prove anymore.
It doesn’t mean we should accept the fact he is gone. We don’t have to like it. It’s his life, and he earned the right to do what he wants after entertaining us for 22 years.
All we can do is say happy trails to the GOAT and we’ll see him on TV somewhere on his way to Canton.
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