Tom Brady: Stepping out of the shadow
Back on Sunday, the entire country witnessed the greatest football player of all time make history yet again. Tom Brady, quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, became the first player in NFL history to win his seventh Super Bowl title. With the victory, the former Patriot is now tied with longtime 49ers and Broncos administrator Neal Dahlen, and is also one ring away from matching his former coach, Bill Belichick, for most rings earned by a single human being.
Brady didn't need to do much during the game to ensure his team's victory as Tampa's defense was about as dominant as any defense in Super Bowl history. All night long, Shaq Barrett and his teammates pulverized Kansas City Chiefs superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, thus making the former MVP look human for the first time in his career.
To me, this defensive rout was reminiscent of Tom's previous Super Bowl win from two years ago, when the Patriots' defense held the Los Angeles Rams to just three points. Additionally, it also reminded me of Tampa's previous title game performance from back in 2003, when they picked off Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon five times.
Nevertheless, while it can be said that Tom's previous Super Bowl performance from two years ago was lacking, the same cannot be said about how he played during this go around. He finished the game with three touchdown tosses, the fourth time he's thrown at least that many. He completed 72.4 percent of his passes, which was the second time he ever completed a Super Bowl with a completion rate higher than 70 percent (2014 - 74%). And he also refrained from throwing any interceptions, the fifth time he's done so in 10 trips to the Big Game.
But the one thing that separates this Super Bowl with the sixth others that he won as a Patriot is that he won it while playing for another team, and more importantly, a different coach. For years, fans, the media, and everyone in between have tried to find some sort of separation between Brady and Belichick. Some have tried to differentiate the two by trying to distinguish who was the more important force. Those who thought it was Belichick would describe Brady as a quarterback built by his coach's system, while those on Brady's side noted Belichick's struggles with other quarterbacks under center during his lengthy career.
This strange debate did something that many would feel was inconceivable, it placed Brady, who is again the greatest football player in history, in the shadow of Belichick.
But with his seventh Super Bowl title, Brady not only came within one championship of tying his long time coach, he was also finally able to step out of his gargantuan shadow. And while part of me felt a tad bittersweet to see Brady hoist the Lombardi Trophy while wearing another team's colors, that one fact of him stepping into the light and away from Belichick was enough to make me happy.
Now does this mean that I'm ready to see him win number eight next season? Of course not. After all, I am a Patriots fan. I would want nothing else for Belichick to dust himself off after having a pretty mediocre season, bring in a new quarterback, and challenge Brady for supremacy in the NFL. I can only imagine how I'd feel if I knew that Brady and Belichick were challenging each other in a Super Bowl. So we'll see how it goes. But for now, I want to congratulate Tom Brady and the rest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for winning the big one this year!
Over the next several months, I plan on writing a few blog posts on the good old days, when Brady and Belichick ruled over the league as master and apprentice for almost my entire childhood and early adulthood. So get ready for those as they come out!
Featured Image Credit - AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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