By Kendrick Nettleton, Columnist (Courtesy Photo)
Unless you only watched the commercials and paid no attention to the game (and let’s be honest, other than the Tide commercials, they were kind of a waste of time) or are boycotting the NFL because of the kneeling protests (which… why?) you know that Tom Brady and the Patriots lost Super Bowl 52 to the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s a result that surprised many, including myself, and the resulting week of media meltdown revealed an interesting (unintelligent) group of questions.
Does this loss mean the end of the Patriot’s dynasty? Will this be the final year that the core Patriot pieces are together? Does this loss diminish Tom Brady’s legacy? Is he still the greatest quarterback to ever play the game?
You can stop reading now, because I’ll just tell you. Yes, yes he is.
Believe me, I get it. I get the urge to hate the Patriots and Brady. They’re probably the most hate-able team in the history of sports. They win all the time, year after year. They’re great, and even worse than that, they know they’re great. Their methods for being great are, at times… questionable (Spygate, Deflategate, any other “gate” you can think of). If you’re a fan of any of the other 31 teams in the NFL, you probably hate the Patriots because they’ve beaten you… a lot. (As a lifelong Denver Broncos fan, I know a lot about losing to the Patriots.) Tom Brady is confident, handsome, good at what he does, married to a supermodel, rich beyond imagining, etc. For those people who hate success – and I think that’s more of us than care to admit it – that makes him a prime hate target.
And that’s fine. Call him what you want. Hate him if you want. But let’s get one thing clear: Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time. I could write thousands of words talking about Tom Brady’s greatness on the football field. We can talk about the Super Bowl wins, tied for most all time for a player.
We can talk about all of the NFL records that Brady holds: most wins (be that regular season, playoff, division titles), and most yards and touchdowns in NFL playoff history. He’s got a good chance to pass Peyton Manning for most yards and touchdowns in playoffs and the regular season combined before he retires (tear).
But wait, you’re saying. There are bad things, too. What about those Super Bowls he lost? What about his unfortunate run-ins with Eli Manning, or his setback this last Sunday? What about the perceived cheating? What about that ESPN article detailing how screwed up the Patriots locker room is? (Answer? It was a ridiculous article, playing up some minor trouble so that the talking heads on ESPN could have something to scream about for a few days.)
My response is pretty simple. Nobody’s perfect, and it’s always taken a pretty spectacular set of circumstances to knock Brady off his game. It’s easy to forget that he’s one ridiculous helmet-catch away from six Super Bowl rings (that second Eli ring came off another amazing, once-every-few-years type catch, too).
Last year he came back from twenty-five points in the fourth quarter to win the game. TWENTY FIVE POINTS. And let’s not forget that last Sunday, he threw for 505 yards and three touchdowns, trouncing the record for most yards in a Super Bowl – which, oh yeah, he held previously with 466. Let’s not pretend it was Brady that lost the game; he played out of his mind.
So yes, Brady-haters. Celebrate if you want, but let’s not insult anybody’s intelligence by pretending that we weren’t watching a masterful performance by the greatest quarterback of all time. (Also, just wanted to throw this in: THE MAN IS FORTY.) Let’s appreciate him while we still have him, because we’ll never get to watch anyone like him again.