The GOAT is back. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are taking on the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. There are some exciting matchups lined up for this game.
- Old QB vs. Young QB.
- Old Acclaimed Coach vs. Young Acclaimed Coach.
- Old School Power Run vs. New School Deep Passing Threats.
Whichever way it turns out, it’s sure to be an exciting match.
Born and raised in New England, I was naturally drawn into the unique fandom for the local sports teams. New Englanders are tough and prickly, some may even say rude, but we stick together. It was only natural that an us vs. them mindset developed out of that.
I was 7 years old when the New England Patriots defeated the (then) St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. That’s when the dynasty was born and though it would take a few more years to develop fully, that postseason run is where the jealousy began.
17 years later and the storylines can’t be different. The Patriots have gone from plucky underdog to evil empire. The Rams have gone from Greatest Show on Turf to the future of the NFL. Considering the poeticism of this matchup, it’s only fitting to look back briefly at the legacy left by the GOAT: Tom Brady.
Outside New England
Recently, I moved to Indiana to pursue a master’s degree. It is the first time I’ve lived outside of New England for extended periods of time. It’s been a culture shock in many ways, but football is one of the big ones.
I knew the Patriots weren’t well liked outside New England, but I was still surprised at the level of vitriol directed at them. When people find out I like the Patriots, the insults thrown at the team are colorful and creative.
I don’t say this to garner sympathy. I say this to provide context to New Englanders who don’t fully appreciate just what the success of the team has done outside the region. New England hasn’t helped itself with a myriad of (admittedly overblown) cheating allegations.
Now that we’re here though, with Tom Brady set to play in his 9th Super Bowl, things are starting to change. At least in the media, longtime Brady haters are starting to realize they can’t argue with the dominance. No matter what qualifications they set forth, Brady still comes out the GOAT. Now, it’s begrudging, but it’s there.
The question now is if this will trickle down to the general public. I don’t anticipate that happening while Brady is still in the league and winning at a high level. That invokes too much jealousy. But when he retires? After a few years, perhaps people will look back and truly appreciate just how dominant this GOAT run has been.
Look at the stats above and tell me that’s not ridiculous. 9 freaking Super Bowls. 41 years old and still playing at a relatively elite level with a chance to achieve history again on Sunday.
The Super Bowls alone show just how dominant how Brady is, but even the rest of his stats are positively GOAT-like. In the regular season 6,004 completions, 70,514 yards. 517 TDs. He ranks at or near the top of every statistical category. This just gets even better when you start including postseason numbers.
Brady has often had a good team and staff around him. This helps him get to the postseason regularly and pad these stats. Much has been made, however, of the Patriots and their knack for maximizing the castoffs of other teams. Just look at how many former Browns have found success with the Patriots.
This is why I look at Brady and see what a remarkable ability he has to elevate the play of those around him. That’s what a leader does. That’s what a GOAT does. The team wants to win for him, and that is incredibly clear this season. A team filled with perceived busts is in the Super Bowl with a chip on the shoulder, much to a hater’s chagrin. Brady and this team have taken every perceived slight and turned it into a rallying cry.
Black Marks on a GOAT
I mentioned the myriad of cheating allegations against the Patriots earlier in the article, but I would be remiss if I didn’t include them here. Most go against Bill Belichick, Darth Hoodie himself, and those could take up an article all on their own. The one to focus on here is Deflategate, an epic saga of courtroom drama that Mark Wahlberg will probably dramatize someday.
We all know the story, and there’s no point in going over every agonizing detail for the millionth time. What I’m here to say is this: Yes, something happened. I do not believe Brady was innocent in this. Do I think it was overblown? Yes. But I also know something was happening.
I know this because every QB does something like this. Aaron Rodgers likes his ball above the PSI limit, he said it himself. At the end of the day, it’s not a big deal and doesn’t make nearly as big of a difference as everyone wants to believe it does. He’s played better since that scandal, winning at least two Super Bowls and playing in two more on top of that.
I’m not justifying the cheating, but rather pointing out the hypocrisy of the outrage. A minor equipment issue treated like the end of the world in a league with much bigger issues.
If you want to hold this against Brady, then fine, that’s your prerogative, but there comes a point where despite that, you have to appreciate the dominance. Respect the drive to win year in and year out when others can’t. At the end of the day, the game is about execution, and no one executes better than Brady.
So how will this end? Brady has already confirmed he’ll be coming back next season and it’s impossible to rule out any success from this team at this point. Maybe he’ll drop off a cliff and maybe he won’t. He might win this Super Bowl and bookend his championships, never to return to the big game again. Maybe he’ll lose and we’ll be left with questions of what could have been.
I don’t have the answers, but on Sunday, we are going to watch the greatest QB of all time play in his 9th Super Bowl in 18 years, and if you can’t at least appreciate what it takes to succeed at this level, then I don’t know what else to say.
Tom Brady is the GOAT, and I think it’s time we all realize that.
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