Now, Tom Brady belongs to the legends, the undisputed greatest of all-time following a Super Bowl win that was and is the embodiment of everything he represents. Simply, Brady is the best quarterback in the history of the NFL.
He will always be tainted by Deflategate and the extent of his involvement – if any – something that likely will never be known. But on Sunday with the footballs properly inflated, with no hot air for his detractors to spew at him, Brady went out and won yet another Super Bowl in remarkable fashion. That this is now Brady’s second Super Bowl win post-Deflategate emphasizes the fact that he doesn’t need to cheat to win.
He just has to be Brady. More often than not that is enough.
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And in Brady, the New England Patriots have not just the best at his position of his generation but a quarterback who is clutch in every way and a true leader. Down 21-3 at halftime and 28-3 at the midpoint of the third quarter, Brady’s confidence never wavered. In turn, his teammates never doubted that the greatest ever could lead them back.
And this is Brady’s true greatness. It isn’t found in the gaudy statistics or even in the four Super Bowl MVP awards or his now fistful of Super Bowl rings. Instead, it is his resilience.
Down multiple touchdowns in the second quarter, down big at halftime and down even bigger in the third quarter, he never quit. His two drives late in the fourth quarter to tie the game, the quintessential mark of a winner. Deflated footballs or not, Spygate or whatever gets thrown at his final legacy, it still takes a cool, unflappable leader to stay calm under pressure and execute.
That can’t be taught in a quarterback camp in high school. It can’t be inflated by steroids in a weight room. Only Brady can nurture this in himself.
This Super Bowl win, following a suspension for his supposed involvement in Deflategate, is one that the haters can never take away from him. It proves not just his greatness.
It proves that he is the greatest ever.
Here we are, yet again, marveling at this former sixth round pick who is forever reaching new heights of success in the NFL. It is easy, perhaps even desirable to downgrade his accomplishments for Brady isn’t flash, he isn’t a walking human highlight reel of talent or a chiseled physique worthy of sculpture. In today’s NFL, it is easy to overlook his nature, to scoff at his rise from the late rounds of the NFL Draft to all the Super Bowl titles.
Instead, what is being witnessed is a leader unlike perhaps any other in sports or at the very least this sport. In this era of the salary cap and without the benefit of a Jerry Rice to throw to, the Patriots under Brady keep rolling along, no matter what.
Brady has his haters and rightly should. After all, every NFL team in 2000 had the opportunity to select him in the NFL Draft, and every team passed on a quarterback who could have changed a franchise. While he has the physical gifts to be a quarterback at this level, all that can be tainted by questions of properly inflated footballs.
What can’t be taken away is something deep inside of him that makes him a winner. Something seen this past Sunday en route to a fifth Lombardi Trophy.
Joe Montana had this intangible, so to did the likes of Bart Starr and Terry Bradshaw, even Brett Favre and John Elway knew how to win. But no one has been like Brady and simply won by the very force of his leadership, the pure brute desire to win above all costs. And for that reason, we may never see his likeness again.