Super Bowl

Move over, Jordan: Tom Brady is king

Naveen Ganglani
Move over, Jordan: Tom Brady is king

AGELESS. At 43, Tom Brady rewrites the NFL record books as the oldest quarterback to win the Super Bowl.

Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

With 7 Super Bowl rings, Tom Brady now has more championships than every NFL franchise

There are times when words aren’t enough to describe spectacular moments.

This is one of them.

Tom Brady, at 43 years and 188 days old, has rewritten the record book as the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl title. 

He did it in style. And not for the first time.

This latest achievement, arguably the most special in a while, is the seventh title of his illustrious career in 10 tries – both records – as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dominated defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9, in the 55th edition of the NFL’s most glamorous event. 

At 7 rings, Brady now has more championships than every NFL franchise. That is completely absurd, but, as we now know, not impossible.

Bucs versus Chiefs had all the makings of a Hollywood-inspired spectacle, highlighted by the premier names leading the show.

You had the ageless superstar considered “Greatest of All-Time” in Brady, going up against wonder boy Patrick Mahomes, the next face of American football and the man many consider to supplant Brady as the GOAT.

Or I should now say, “formerly considered?”

Following the thrashing provided by the Buccaneers to the lackadaisical Chiefs – who entered the match winning 25 of the last 26 games their star quarterback started – Mahomes might instead end up as one of the footnotes in the story of Brady, rather than his usurper. 

There’s still time to change that, given Mahomes’ own brand of greatness.

Although right now, it’s looking unlikely.

Brady is no longer competing against his contemporaries – nearly all have retired, their resumes pale in comparison to his paramount list of still-growing accomplishments.

He’s no longer competing against up-and-comers aiming for his throne – outdueling Mahomes in the sports’ grandest stage closed that chapter with a thud as loud as the hits Tampa’s defensive specialists landed on Kansas City’s helpless receivers.

He’s now going head-to-head against the other sports GOATs in history – the Michael Jordans, Serena Williams, Roger Federers, Cristiano Ronaldos, and Michael Phelpses of the world. 

Everything from here on out is gravy.

For the longest time, Jordan was considered the ultimate superhero of team sports in North America. 

Now, that discussion must change.

Consider all that Brady has gone through to reach another one of these shining milestones: the Lombardi trophy raised high above his shoulders, confetti dropping from the breezy Tampa sky, and his 3 kids close by, basking in the moment of a father whose fame they will one day fully comprehend. 

One year ago, many thought Brady was “washed,” an out-of-his-prime quarterback staying too long in the game, and with a style of play outdated by the arrival of quicker-on-their-feet quarterbacks like Mahomes. 

He left New England – the place he called home for two decades and where he won 6 Super Bowls – and Bill Belichick, who is considered the greatest football coach of all time. Or perhaps the correct term moving forward is “was considered,” since Brady winning a ring without Bill forces us to have a difficult discussion.

Was it Bill’s genius or Brady’s performance that led the Patriots dynasty, the model of the NFL? Some argued the former, others believed the latter. Truth be told, it was always more Brady. Quarterback is the hardest position to play in all of sports.

And now as Tom adds to his trophy collection, Belichick is living through the disappointment of missing the playoffs. Before Brady became his quarterback on that fateful day in September 2001, Bill couldn’t crack the postseason.

The debate is currently settled. 

In the twilight of his career, Brady signed with an uninspiring but talented Tampa Bay team which was a paltry 7-9 the season before his arrival and hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2007. 

He entered a new franchise, learned the style of a new coach, familiarized himself with new teammates, spent periods away from family, and lived in a new city during a time when naysayers consistently criticized him for being “too old.” As the coronavirus pandemic raged on, he stayed in shape.

Brady entered his first season in Florida without a prolonged training camp and preseason to build rapport with teammates. It was that more than anything else which led to Tampa’s disappointing start to the regular season, punctuated by humiliating defeats to New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Kansas City.

But from there, the Bucs took off. Something clicked. They familiarized with one another. The system got rolling. The defense rediscovered their swagger under the leadership of superb coordinator Todd Bowles, while head coach Bruce Arians gave his legendary quarterback control of the offense. 

Tampa won its last 4 games of the regular season in blowout fashion, albeit against non-playoff teams. The Bucs scored an average of 37 points a contest with a combined winning margin of 73 points. The opponents were inferior, but the building blocks of the advertised explosiveness was finally on display, and just at the right time.

Once the playoffs got going, the path laid out for the Bucs was tough, having to win 3 consecutive road games to make the Super Bowl. 

At first, Brady led an inspired effort against Washington and their second-ranked defense.

Up next were Drew Brees and the Saints, who squashed Tampa so bad twice in the regular season that it was almost laughable to think the Bucs could be title contenders. 

The third time was the charm, however, and it was Tampa Bay which spearheaded the beating. 

In the NFC Finals, Brady and company visited league MVP Aaron Rodgers and his Packers at their intimidating “Frozen Tundra” and left with a huge victory, while also ending the Brady versus Rodgers debate once and for all. 

With all respect due to Rodgers, it should have never been a conversation to begin with.

Brady versus Mahomes was unique.

It would be like seeing Jordan in his twilight against LeBron in his younger years. 

Like seeing Ali go up against Tyson.

Ramon Fernandez against June Mar Fajardo.

The final tally? Brady went 21-of-29 for 201 yards and 3 touchdowns; Mahomes threw for 279 on 26-of-49 and 2 interceptions. 

Unspectacular numbers, sure, but that’s because a number of variables should be considered:

Tampa’s defense was spectacular, the Chiefs had injuries to the important offensive line, a number of 50-50 calls went Tampa’s way, Rob Gronkowski turned back the hands of time, Leonard Fournette had the game of his life, and the Bucs were playing in their home field.

That last bit barely happens in the Super Bowl. It became possible because of Brady’s leadership through their playoff run. 

That same leadership was on display when he calmly led 3 touchdown drives in the first half, putting a chokehold on Kansas City. From there on out, the defense just had to do its job, and it was curtains.

There are those who argue Jordan is the GOAT of basketball because he has 6 rings. 

There’s a counter that because LeBron only has 4 but more finals appearances, plus an extended longevity of being elite, it should be him.

Brady is both in a tougher sport where physical contact can be lethal for players, where the playoffs aren’t a set of series but a series of win-or-go-home knockouts, and where there is less room for error.

No other sport takes parity more seriously than the NFL, where the system is built to give teams a chance to compete every year, and prevent extended runs of superiority.

Despite that, he’s 34-11 all-time in the postseason, a mark no other quarterback is close to overcoming.

He won his first ring in 2002. He won his second and third in 2004 and 2005. No other quarterback has won back-to-back since.

He won his fourth in 2015. He won his fifth in 2017, spearheading the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. 

He won his sixth in 2019 with a clutch pass to Gronk.

And now, he won his seventh in 2021 dominantly.

That’s spanning 3 different decades. 

There’s a cool factor to him – the willingness to be a courteous dork, but someone whose competitive fury is unlike any we’ve ever seen.

Did I mention he’s 43 years old? 

“There is no such thing as perfect. There is only the relentless pursuit of perfection,” Brady wrote for the pre-game mantra he posted on social media.

“We’re coming back,” he said after receiving this trophy.

“You already know that.”

The best part? It’s far from over. –

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