It pains me to say it, but Tom Brady last night proved he is simply the best. He was the MVP of last night’s Super Bowl, led his team to a decisive victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, and made one of the other best quarterbacks in the league look out of his depth.
There was commentary during and after the game that the refs were throwing too many flags and that they played a role in the game. While the flags were one-sided, I don’t think they had that big of an impact on the game, except to get the Chiefs’ defense frustrated with themselves over the stupid mistakes they were making.
This was the Super Bowl. You’re supposed to be above those mistakes at this point in the year.
But while the critics would look for reasons like the above to deny Brady the title of “Greatest Of All Time” (or “GOAT”), I am reminded of some basketball analysis I heard recently that very much applies to the situation in Tampa Bay.
In discussing why we focus so much on LeBron James instead of Steph Curry or James Harden, someone explained that what makes players truly great (and, indeed, listed among the greatest of all time) is that they are not only elite players themselves, but they make everyone around them better athletes, as well.
Curry and Harden are indeed elite players, but their teams have typically had to rely on them rather than incorporate their players with them over the years. If one of those players were to leave a program, it would cripple them far more than James leaving would. To his credit, James genuinely does try to make an entire program better.
Brady is in that same class, just in a different sport. Tampa Bay was not a football program that anyone had Super Bowl thoughts about. The Buccaneers were a mid-tier team at best. Brady, meanwhile, had been wildly successful in almost every year over the last decade, save last year. Many saw last season as the end of both Belichick’s and Brady’s dominance in the league.
Incidentally, the fact that Brady and Belichick were always spoken of together is probably one of the reasons he left the Patriots. On a certain level, someone who is good wants to prove they’re good on their own. As long as he was there under Belichick, his successes would be tied to that coach. This season proves that he was the driving force behind the Patriots’ successes and not the coach’s.
Brady came to Tampa and there were some struggles at first. A slow start to the year and a rough November did make people question whether or not Brady was good enough on his own. But, at the end of the season and through the post-season, the Bucs played their best games in several years, and Brady played his best games in the last few years (at least). It has to be noted that Brady wasn’t the only great player on his team. Gronk is an obvious one, but Leonard Fournette and others on the offensive side of the ball were great at adapting to Brady’s style and he was able to elevate them all year long.
Defensively, because Brady had such a mastery of the offensive side of the ball, the defense was never too tired to take the field and they forced the Kansas City offense to play harder than they had perhaps had to over the course of the year. That forced Patrick Mahomes to scramble a lot more, killed his accuracy, and left the rest of the offense floundering. That is nothing against Mahomes, mind you. He is a fantastic player and will continue to help lead the Chiefs to success as long as he’s there.
Brady, however, took the Buccaneers to the next level, and this season proved it was him taking the Patriots to that same level as well. It is very hard to deny the fact that Tom Brady is one of the best of all time.