Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots have been villains not only to Jet fans, but also to many other fans of the National Football League for well over a decade. Sunday after Sunday, many hope to see this longstanding powerhouse fall and are disappointed each week.
The Patriots will take the field this upcoming weekend for their 2017 playoff debut at home against the Houston Texans. As a lifelong Jets fan, rooting for the Patriots goes against everything I believe in. Some of my fondest memories watching Gang Green have come at the expense of New England’s misfortunes.
This year however, the thought of Tom Brady raising the Lombardi Trophy over his head in a sea of confetti for the fifth time doesn’t bother me at all.
Now before you call out “blasphemy,” hit the back button, and/or swear not to read any of my pieces ever again, dear reader, I urge you to consider these points:
We are Witnessing Greatness
As sports fans, we are taught to appreciate greatness as we’re seeing it. Tom Brady has exhibited nothing short of exactly that since he replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe in a game against the Jets on September 23, 2001. Brady would of course go on to lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory that year, the first of four times he would do so. Brady, along with Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw, make up the elite group of signal callers to win four Super Bowls.
This brings us to the age old debate of who the greatest quarterback of all time is. A look at regular season stats has Brady as a clear cut favorite in this argument.
Bradshaw is a clear outlier here, as his career statistics don’t come close to those of Brady and Montana. With a 212:210 career touchdown to interceptions ratio, Bradshaw’s Super Bowls were won largely due to the success of Mean Joe Greene and the “Steel Curtain” defense.
Before giving Brady the crown over Montana based on solely yardage and touchdown totals, one must consider the fact that Brady plays in a much more pass-happy era than Montana did. Over the course of Joe Montana’s entire 16-year career (1979-1994), there were 22 occurrences of a quarterback passing for 4,000 or more yards in a single season. To put that into perspective, there have been 25 of those occurrences in the past two seasons alone.
As for postseason statistics, it’s Montana who statistically holds the upper hand.
In his playoff career, Brady has thrown over six more passes per game, yet only has 6.7 more yards per game. The 49ers’ great also has a higher passer rating and more touchdowns per game than Brady. As far as wins and losses go, it’s the Patriots’ legend who holds the edge in games played and winning percentage.
While Joe Montana was a perfect four for four in Super Bowl play, many of Tom Brady’s critics will quickly point to his two Super Bowl losses to Eli Manning and the Giants. Brady may not have the perfect Super Bowl record that Montana owns, but he has won two more conference championships than Joe Cool.
One more championship for Brady would end the debate, allowing him to rightfully and undoubtedly claim the title of the greatest quarterback of all time.
Stick it to Goodell!
As I said before, many fans of the National Football League hate the New England Patriots. Whether it’s Tom Brady’s pretty-boy looks or Bill Belichick’s emotionless demeanor, New England draws a lot of hate.
Yet there’s one person in the National Football League that almost everyone hates more than Brady and Belichick combined: Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Whether it be his foolish mishandling of Ray Rice and his domestic violence video or his inconsistent and downright preposterous suspension policies (one game for Josh Brown’s domestic violence incident but 10 games for Bills’ lineman Seantrel Henderson’s use of marijuana to treat Crohn’s disease) there are a multitude of reasons to dislike the NFL’s commissioner.
This brings us to a scandal that turns two years old this month, yet we still talk about regularly: Deflategate.
Tom Brady’s alleged deflating of footballs in the 2015 AFC Championship Game was a story that transcended football as Brady and the NFL went to court after the quarterback appealed his four game suspension for his questionable involvement in the case. The trial of Tom Brady made it all the way to The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, where the suspension was vacated prior to the start of the 2015 season, only for it to be reinstated this past April.
The court’s ruling gave Roger Goodell almost unlimited power, as the commissioner took away a quarter of Brady’s season for a crime he may not have even committed. This goes against the common principle of “innocent until proven guilty” that we are all taught from a young age.
But enough about the legal details. In taking away four games of Brady’s season, Goodell also significantly harmed any chance of Brady getting an All-Pro nod or this season’s MVP Award.
The sweetest revenge Tom Brady can take on Roger Goodell is to win the whole damn thing.
Tom Brady has defied odds since he was drafted into the National Football League. Since the Michigan product entered the league in 2000, all Tom Brady has done is exceed expectations.
The oldest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl was Peyton Manning. Last season, the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer relied on his defense to bring him his second title.
That brings us to Tom Brady’s latest case of exceeding of expectations. Brady remains one of the game’s top quarterbacks at the same age that revealed Manning’s regression. While Manning was carried to a title, Brady will be the one carrying his team on a potential Super Bowl run.
The 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft has proven that anything is possible.
One thing that every player eventually learns is that beating father time isn’t possible. As the Patriots gear up for yet another title run, it leaves us wondering how many more of these Brady has left in him. For all we know, this could be Brady’s final chance at a fifth ring.
This is not your average NFL playoff. We live in a world in which the Patriots aren’t the villains we’re used to them being. Whether its Tom Brady’s greatness, his battle with power-mad commissioner, Roger Goodell, or the possibility of this being the last time we see Brady at his best, there are worse things in the world than the Patriots winning this year’s Super Bowl.
Photos courtesy of patriots.com
Statistics courtesy of profootballreference.com and nfl.com.