As a sports fan, you always hope that you will get to watch a once-in-a-lifetime talent. As someone who has been a fan of the NFL since 2009, I have the pleasure and honour of saying that I have been able to see much of the career of the GOAT: Tom Brady.
In winning his 7ᵗʰ Super Bowl – and first away from the New England Patriots – Brady has secured his status as the Greatest of All Time, though it is a title that many have already been bestowing upon him for years. And what makes it even better is when you look at how his NFL career began.
You would imagine that someone who would go on to be the GOAT would have been the #1 pick in the NFL Draft, but that was far from the case with Tom Brady. In fact, the quarterbacks taken in the 2000 NFL Draft went as follows:
- Chad Pennington (Jets) – Round 1, 18ᵗʰ overall
- Giovanni Carmazzi (49ers) – Round 3, 65ᵗʰ overall
- Chris Redman (Ravens) – Round 3, 75ᵗʰ overall
- Tee Martin (Steelers) – Round 5, 163ʳᵈ overall
- Marc Bulger (Saints) – Round 6, 168ᵗʰ overall
- Spergon Wynn (Browns) – Round 6, 183ʳᵈ overall
- Tom Brady (Patriots) – Round 6, 199ᵗʰ overall
- Todd Husak (Redskins) – Round 6, 202ⁿᵈ overall
- Ja’Juan Seider (Chargers) – Round 6, 205ᵗʰ overall
- Tim Rattay (49ers) – Round 7, 212ᵗʰ overall
- Jarious Jackson (Broncos) – Round 7, 214ᵗʰ overall
- Joe Hamilton (Buccaneers) – Round 7, 234ᵗʰ overall
It’s unbelievable now to think that Brady dropped to the 6ᵗʰ round, with 6 other QBs picked ahead of him, and while a couple had successful careers, Brady’s career eclipsed that of all the others combined years ago. It just shows how too much focus was put on measurables rather than work ethic, drive and intelligence.
Of course, a 6ᵗʰ Round pick is not going to automatically become a starter and the Patriots had their franchise QB at the time in Drew Bledsoe, and Brady started his rookie season as the 4ᵗʰ string, but worked his way up to 2ⁿᵈ on the depth chart by the end of the season, making just 3 passes during the season, going 1-for-3 for 6yds. Who knows how long Brady would have been stuck behind Bledsoe – who had signed a then-record contract in March 2001 – but fate intervened, with Mo Lewis’ hit on Bledsoe in Week 2 of the 2001 season forcing the QB out of the game. Brady came in and the team never looked back, with him going 11-3 as a starter to secure a playoff spot, and while Bledsoe came in as a replacement in the AFC Championship game when Brady got hurt, this team was clearly now Brady’s, and they were in the Super Bowl. With the scores level and just 1:30 left on the clock (no timeouts remaining, Brady drove the team downfield from their own 17-yard line to the Rams’ 31-yard line allowing Adam Vinatieri to kick the game-winning field goal to earn the Patriots’ first ever Super Bowl.
Just 2 years later, Brady had led the Pats back to the big game and again engineered a game-winning drive to set Adam Vinatieri up for a field goal to defeat the Carolina Panthers. Then they were back to defend a year later against the Philadephia Eagles, with a 24-21 victory securing the Patriots’ 3ʳᵈ title in 4 seasons.
Fast forward to the 2007 season and Brady led the Pats to an unbeaten regular season, before wins against the Jaguars and Chargers saw them reach the Super Bowl to take on the New York Giants. The heavy pressure from the Giants’ front 7 caused Brady problems all game, but it still took a moment of magic from Eli Manning and David Tyree to set the Giants up for a game-winning touchdown, Brady’s first Super Bowl loss. It was the Giants who Brady found himself facing again in his next Super Bowl appearance 4 years later and again it took a moment of magic from Eli Manning and Mario Manningham to help set up the Giants for the game-winner.
It took Brady 3 years to reach another Super Bowl, this time against the Seahawks but once again at the University of Phoenix Stadium, where he lost his first Super Bowl. Brady went toe-to-toe against Seattle’s much-vaunted “Legion of Boom” and led a 10-point comeback in the 4ᵗʰ quarter, while rookie CB Malcolm Butler made a key interception in the dying moments to save the patriots from a 3ʳᵈ consecutive loss in the big game. 2 years later, facing the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, the Patriots found themselves 28-3 down midway through the 3ʳᵈ quarter, but Brady led them to score 25 unanswered points, before leading the team downfield to score the game-winning TD on the opening possession of overtime, securing Brady’s 5ᵗʰ Super Bowl victory.
Brady was back looking for a 6ᵗʰ ring the next season, but though he threw for 505yds (a Super Bowl record), the Philadelphia Eagles managed to secure a 41-33 victory. They were back the next year though, taking on the LA Rams in the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history, and while Brady did not score a touchdown in this game, he still managed to engineer a late touchdown drive that would end up being the difference, becoming the first player in NFL history to win 6 Super Bowls.
If there was any argument remaining against Brady being the GOAT by this point, it was that all of his success had come at the Patriots under Bill Belichick, who had also had success with other QBs that went on to struggle elsewhere, however with his contract running out ahead of this season, Brady chose to move to new pastures and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Of course, they were by no means a poor team when he arrived, having a strong defence and O-line as well as some great offensive weapons and a high quality coach (though Bruce Arians had never won a Super Bowl. The impacts of COVID-19 clearly hurt the Bucs in the early weeks of the season as they had to make do with a reduced preseason that included no matches, and the team went 7-5 before their Week 13 Bye. However, the team had been growing as everybody gelled, while Brady had also called for the team to bring in 3 players in Rob Gronkowski (who had returned from retirement to join his former teammate), Antonio Brown and Leonard Fournette, who the Jaguars had released after being unable to agree a trade with anyone for him. The team won their remaining 4 regular season games, with Brady setting several franchise records, including the best season passer rating (102.2) in team history, and also the most games with four or more touchdown passes (4). As the 5ᵗʰ seed in the NFC, the Bucs saw off the Washington Football Team, before running the QB gauntlet of Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes to win Super Bowl LV, Brady’s 7ᵗʰ Super Bowl. In this game, the 3 players he had fought for the team to bring in accounted for 4 TDs, while Brady also showed his experience of the game, overruling the coaches’ decision to change the play when the Chiefs called a time-out with the Bucs offense in the redzone as he knew he had the match-up advantage with Tyrann Mathieu in man coverage, resulting in the Bucs buying a Pass Interference penalty that brought them up to the Chiefs 1-yard line, setting them up for a key TD right before half time.
With his story complete (for now), let’s look at some of the incredible stats surrounding Tom Brady:
- Tom Brady now has more Super Bowl wins (7) than any NFL franchise, with the nearest being the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers (6)
- Brady has played in 10 Super Bowls, only the Patriots (11) have played in more, but 9 of these included Brady
- Brady has been voted Super Bowl MVP 5 times, his closest rival is Joe Montana (3)
- Brady is the 1ˢᵗ QB to win a Super Bowl for both and AFC and an NFC franchise
- Brady is the 1ˢᵗ QB to win a Super Bowl in 3 different decades (2000s, 2010s, 2020s)
- Brady and Rob Gronkowski have connected for 5 passing touchdowns in Super Bowls, surpassing Joe Montana and Jerry Rice (4)
- Brady’s 34-11 postseason record works out as .756 winning percentage. The best all-time winning percentage for a franchise is the Patriots, at .638
And the scariest thing: As Tampa begins to find a way to legally change the city’s name to TOMpa, you can be sure that Brady will already be looking ahead to the 2021 season and the chance of ring number 8.