NFL Countdown #27: Brady's trio of elite pass catchers caught as
many or more touchdowns than all but 11 entire teams, and the rest
of the Buccaneers caught more than the entire Patriots offense.
Alright, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. Tom Brady’s career and everything he’s accomplished is nothing short of spectacular. His spot in the pantheon of the greatest athletes of all time would have been solidified even if he had retired at a normal age for quarterbacks. But he kept going, because Father Time works hard and Tom Brady works even harder. His meticulous attention to detail and relentless drive to be great is something that should be studied and preached long after he retires with a full head of hair at the age of 69. He is the only player to win a Super Bowl in three different decades, and at some point he’s going to run out of fingers and ask Goodell to make him toe rings for his championships. He just keeps going, and at this rate I don’t think even Patrick Mahomes has a chance at topping the list of Brady’s accolades.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick handshake meme. Their list of accomplishments together is so ridiculous that it doesn’t look nice in paragraph form, so here’s a clean list of some of the bigger ones:
After his somewhat disappointing final season in New England, the haters thought they finally had Tom Brady dead to rights. They said his arm strength was falling off, that he wouldn't do anything without Belichick, or that traditional pocket passers just don’t fit in today’s NFL. He signed with the Bucs in 2020, and the elderly Florida Man memes hit their peak in Week 5 when Tom Brady forgot what down it was and gave us one of the best visuals of all time:
Just like every quarterback before him adjusting to the volatile Bruce Arians system, Brady struggled through the first handful of games in 2021. He threw 11 interceptions through their first 12 games, including a 3-interception game as the Bucs were blown out by the Saints 38-3 in Week 9. The haters got some sweet, sweet confirmation bias and slept like babies thinking that Brady’s style of play just wouldn’t mesh with Arians’ aggressive downfield agenda. Just when the haters thought they were safe, they were reminded of the cold, harsh reality that Tom Brady is not a human being. Everything started clicking after their Week 13 bye, with Brady connecting on deep shots with anyone who could find a couple yards of separation. The Bucs did not lose after their bye week, got healthy on defense, and looked like an absolute buzzsaw going into the playoffs.
Tampa Bay surprisingly struggled against the Taylor Heinicke-led Washington Football team in their first playoff matchup, and once again the haters thought this surely would be the end of Brady’s miraculous career. And just like any other time someone has doubted Tom Brady, he rose to the occasion and silenced the haters yet again. The Buccaneers coasted through the rest of the playoffs, and the rest is history: Tom Brady joined a team that hadn’t made the playoffs the previous year and annihilated Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl.
I have a confession to make. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I was the anonymous “haters” that would not give up on the idea that Tom Brady is a mere mortal. For every other human who has walked this earth, my line of reasoning would have fit. Brady is older than any quarterback I’ve ever seen succeed, and it’s just bananas that he is still an elite professional athlete while I’m a salty 27-year old who is out of commission for a week after just thinking about bending my back in a weird way. No one has ever spit in the faces of Father Time and our concept of human potential quite like Tom Brady. Maybe I was just hoping for Aaron Rodgers to have a season or two of being the unquestioned best QB before Mahomes takes that mantle. Maybe I judged Tom Brady’s talent unfairly because I don’t agree with his peddling of pseudoscience with the TB12 Method. Maybe I’m jealous that Tom Brady has the coolest life I can even imagine (minus the whole kissing his 11-year-old son thing).
Whatever my reasons were for doubting him, I just can’t reasonably continue digging my heels in and saying that he’s a system quarterback or that Aaron Rodgers would have won more rings with the Patriots organization behind him. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me seven times, I'm a complete idiot. Tom Brady’s career has been as close to perfect as we'll ever see, and we are all lucky to have been alive to witness it. I can still hate the guy while respecting his greatness, right? In the immortal words of HOF Wii Golf player Denny Carter (@CDCarter13):