After what we witnessed, bestowing the unquestioned G.O.A.T. status on Tom Brady simply doesn’t do enough justice. Greatest quarterback of all time?
We passed that point long ago, specifically when Brady orchestrated a fourth-quarter comeback to beat a renowned Seattle defence in Super Bowl XLIX for his fourth ring. Greatest player in NFL history? Yeah, we’re there too.
Comparing players across different positions in is a difficult task, but with all due respect to the likes of Jerry Rice, Lawrence Taylor and Jim Brown, quarterback is by far the most important role on the field and Brady is a winner like no other.
With all that being said, Brady now sits on a higher plane of existence than was previously imaginable. What he did to bring the New England Patriots back from a 25-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI wasn’t just surreal, but should be considered one of the most, if not the most, clutch performance in the history of team sport.
The stakes, the legacies on the line, the odds against it happening… all of those circumstances inherently made it a moment dripping with importance.
It’s the way Brady did it though, coming back from the dead and playing damn-near flawlessly for the final 27 minutes in a situation he had to be practically perfect in, that truly made it transcendent.
Former Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell recently told The Ringer there are moments when Brady looks “like he’s zoned out” and “got a song playing in his head”.
Maybe he was hearing Jay-Z, 4 Non Blondes or one of Beethoven’s symphonies, but whatever was going on inside Brady’s mind during the comeback assault put him in a calm, laser-focused state which made it feel inevitable that he was going to complete what he set out to do.
As Brady and the Patriots were climbing up the mountain, getting a foothold closer to pulling off the impossible, the sentiment was less ‘oh my God is he actually going to do this?’ and more ‘of course Brady is going to do this’.
There’s only been one athlete in the modern era of team sports that has invoked similar emotions of dread and confidence, depending on your vested interest: Michael Jordan.
MJ was of course a perfect six-for-six in the NBA Finals and finished his legendary career with a highlight reel full of clutch shots, but even he never had to engineer a comeback to this extent with everything on the line in a Game 7.
The funny thing is, Brady is topping himself at this point. In that aforementioned win over Seattle two years ago, he overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter hole by completing 13-of-15 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
If Brady went Super Saiyan in that Super Bowl, then the win over Atlanta saw him go at least Super Saiyan 2. In the fourth quarter and overtime against the Falcons, Brady hit on 21-of-27 throws for 246 yards and a touchdown.
So, Brady in the last two Super Bowls has combined to go 34-42 for 370 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while leading two historic comebacks, the previous one more ridiculous than the one before… and he’s 39.
If you were a Hollywood producer and this was a movie script, you would chuck it out for being too far-fetched. Tom Brady, however, is very much real, even if his continued storybook endings don’t feel like it.