By Jonathan Frias, Feb. 16, 2021
The NFL is one of the hardest leagues to play in, with only 16 regular season games, and each game requiring a whole week of preparation. In Tom Brady’s 21st season in the NFL, he not only settled the debate as to why he is the greatest football player of all time but proved no other individual in any team sport can compare.
Brady should not be where he is today. He wasn’t highly recruited out of high school, always competed for playing time during his time with the Michigan Wolverines and in the 2000 NFL Draft he was not chosen until the sixth round with the 199th pick. The accumulation of all this created a big chip on his shoulder and fueled him to become the ultimate underdog and legend we see today.
I can rattle off all of Brady’s stats and accomplishments, but I don’t need too. I just need to explain the magnitude of Brady’s accomplishments in his first season as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback.
Brady spent 20 seasons with the New England Patriots coached by Bill Belichick, a perfect situation for any quarterback/athlete. The stability created a culture of excellence and resulted in multiple Super Bowls, but then it fell apart during the 2020 NFL offseason.
Belichick felt it was time for the Patriots to start investing in the future and in doing so the Patriots and Brady agreed to part ways. The greatest quarterback in NFL history was now a free agent and needed a new home in the NFL.
The process of building rapport with new ownership, coaching staff and teammates takes time and Brady knew what he was getting himself into when he signed a two-year deal with the Buccaneers.
I understand the difficult nature of learning a new system when a new coach comes in. In fact, I had a new varsity head football coach all four years at Baldwin Park High School, from 2013 to 2017, and each coach brought their own offensive scheme.
Each year a new coach would come in and sell his mentality and how he was different from previous coaches. Every coaching cliché was said during the opening meeting: “I am here to win championships” or “Our passing game will be next level.” But after the second coach, I knew football really came down to three things: leadership, stability and offensive/defensive line play.
Brady knew the Buccaneers had two of the three components to be a championship team, but to instill a winning mindset at an organization that is notorious for losing would be the biggest challenge.
Heading into the 2020 NFL season a lot changed due to the pandemic, so organized team activities, minicamps and the preseason were all canceled. This was not a good start for Brady, as he knew these were all crucial in developing chemistry with his new teammates.
The beginning of the season wasn’t any easier, as the Buccaneers struggled to find their offensive identity and headed into their bye week with a 7-5 record. Brady was not going to allow the Buccaneers to miss the playoffs, so he took control of the team and demanded more from everyone. The Buccaneers finished the regular season 11-5 and made the playoffs as a wild–card team.
To reach the Super Bowl, the Buccaneers won three straight road games. Brady and the Buccaneers handled their competition playing complementary football throughout the postseason, as the defense forced turnovers and the offense capitalized by turning those turnovers into touchdowns.
Those three postseason games were outstanding, and I could not comprehend how Brady was able to do this with no offseason. It did not make any sense!
Here is the context of what Brady did in the three road playoff games: In the Wild Card Round he defeated the Washington Football Team, a team with one of the best defenses in the NFL which included four first–round draft picks on the defensive line. The Divisional Round was about avenging two regular season loses against the New Orleans Saints, as they defeated them in convincing fashion.
The cherry on top was heading to Lambeau Field and defeating the 2020 NFL MVP, Aaron Rodgers, and the Green Bay Packers on their home field. Brady elevated the whole team and now they were able to compete in the 2021 Super Bowl.
The Kansas City Chiefs were the defending champions, so the Buccaneers had their hands full with stopping the Chiefs high–powered offense. During the game, the Buccaneers defense proved they were superior as they held the Chiefs to a total of nine points. Brady did his part, as he tossed three touchdown passes and took home another Super Bowl MVP.
Undeniably, Brady’s first season with Tampa cannot be compared to another athlete in a team sport. To overcome obstacles off and on the field throughout the season where the expectation was to just make the playoffs. Then, winning the Super Bowl is what differentiates Brady from everyone else, his leadership and the way he elevates a franchise is unmatched. Brady only has one goal and that is to end every season with the Super Bowl trophy.
In 2002, Brady was asked by Steve Sabol if he was afraid of peaking after winning his first Super Bowl, Brady’s response exhibits why he still is performing at such a high caliber at the age of 43.
“I had an equipment manager at college. He had been at Michigan for 25 years or so. He’s got so many Big Ten rings, I mean he doesn’t have enough fingers for all the rings he’s got, and he says, ‘You know what Tom, you know what my favorite ring is?’ and I said which one? He goes ‘The next one.’ Now, that’s what I think the next one, that’s my favorite.”
Brady’s desire to prove everyone wrong, as he continues to be great well into his 40s in a sport which tears the body apart is absurd. I will continue to appreciate and watch Brady in awe until he retires, since there will never be another athlete in team sports like him.
He is simply a living legend.
Show Comments (0)