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I know, I know, some of you don’t care about sports, and the World Cup has been putting you to sleep. I get it. Turn away from this story—but understand that you will be turning away from yet another stunning performance by the guy who most analysts at this point consider to be the greatest player in National Football League history.
Let’s set the scene: Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers are down 13-3 with 5:21 to play on Monday Night Football. Pretty much insurmountable odds; I debated whether to just turn off the TV and get some shut-eye instead of watching the inevitable Bucs defeat.
But something told me to hold on.
And then Brady went on to throw two touchdowns in the final three minutes in another “comeback for the ages,” and the Bucs miraculously prevailed 17-16.
The Crazy Comeback was Brady’s NFL-record 44th career fourth-quarter rally, breaking a tie with Peyton Manning for the most in history, according to NFL Research.
Here’s how he did it; no play in the drive is amazingly incredible—it’s just routine excellence in crunch time. There’s no one pass that blows you out of your seat; it’s just a quiet sustained perfection of the craft:
— NFL (@NFL) December 6, 2022
Certainly, his teammates stepped up. This was not Brady’s win alone, as several receivers made incredible catches, and the defense was formidable.
The Bucs delivered the win with three seconds left on the clock. If you don’t think that’s exciting, you should check your pulse:
All of us rn pic.twitter.com/khfBmzorNr
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) December 6, 2022
“If you want to know why a guy like Brady at 45 in his 23rd year won’t retire, it’s games like this,” ESPN commentator Joe Buck declared.
“No question,” agreed Troy Aikman, who should know, considering he won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s. “No question,” he repeated for emphasis. “You won’t get that in this broadcast booth.” [Emphasis mine.]
“I mean that is as exhilarating as it must get,” Buck agreed.
I’m sorry, but an English lady I am fond of used to say, “my heart pumps peanuts.” You marry the greatest player NFL in history—but then ask him to quit the game as a tribute to you? I have strong feelings about fatherhood, and feel it’s personally been the most important role in my life—as it should be for every father—but isn’t being a successful role model part of that deal? From all accounts, he’s been a great dad, but demanding that he give up his raison d’être seems a bridge too far.
It’s like asking a zebra to change its stripes. It’d be akin to marrying Kim Kardashian and asking her to keep her clothes on—that’s not going to happen (as Kanye/Ye found out).
But I find Brady’s pursuits far nobler than any of the Kardashians.
As a sports analyst, I’m not convinced that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a realistic shot at the Super Bowl. The Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals look like serious roadblocks in the AFC, and the NFC’s Philadelphia Eagles have been overwhelming and stand at 11-1.
That being said, my son was two years old when Tom Brady suited up for his rookie year, and now my boy (ok, adult) is 25. The pass that Brady threw to win the game went to a receiver who was 6-months old when Brady entered the league.
Critics and detractors can whine, but Brady’s relentless, enduring excellence is something we should all celebrate.
This article has been updated to reflect that ESPN broadcasts Monday Night Football.