Mazz: Let's break down Brady - without breaking down
Mazz: Let’s break down Brady – without breaking down
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 1: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on before Super Bowl XXXVIII against the Carolina Panthers at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Let’s get this part out of the way, just so we don’t get bogged down in any more embarrassing, needlessly emotional displays. The man has seemingly retired more times than any prizefighter or, for that matter, entertainer. Brady said goodbye when he left New England. He said goodbye last year. Now he’s saying goodbye again, this team, presumably, for real. After a while, the shock just wears off.
Does that mean this fails to be a story?
Of course not.
But let’s keep it real.
With that understood, we can now officially declare – hopefully – that we have witnessed Brady’s last game. (I say hopefully only because any additional hint of a return would further cheapen the end of the Brady story.) The one thing we should all agree on is that Brady’s annoying tap dances over the last few years at least allowed those of us in New England to experience what opponents must have felt for years: the guy just keeps coming. Brady won Super Bowls at 24, 26, 27, 37, 39, 41 and 43. He also reached the Super Bowl at 30, 34 and 36. If he was in uniform, he was a threat. And he has been in costume for 23 years.
Had he remained there, he would have been a threat – somewhere – at 46, too.
We all know Brady’s story inside and out by now.
But it will always be one worth telling.
His greatest asset was his will
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Patriots defeated the Falcons 34-28. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
What distinguished Brady more than anything else, of course, was his relentlessness, his sheer desire to win, his will. Until now, incredibly, Brady’s desire to compete and prevail never really waned much, if at all. He outlasted Jimmy Garoppolo. He won without Bill Belichick. He racked up more Super Bowls than any franchise in NFL history. Brady’s list of NFL records is a little like The Beatles Greatest Hits, which is to say that it requires multiple volumes. You can look them up for yourself. They’re too long to list here.
It was a good time to go
TAMPA, FLORIDA – JANUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is sacked by Marquis Haynes Sr. #98 of the Carolina Panthers during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Was he good enough to keep playing in 2023? Sure. Yes. Undoubtedly. Was he good enough to live up to his own standard? Questionable, doubtful, maybe unlikely. You can rattle off all the stats you want about Brady’s statistics in 2022 – 4,694 yards, a career-best 490 completions – but we all know the only one that matters: 8-9. That was Tampa’s record this year, the only losing season of Brady’s career. The number was actually 8-10 if you include Tampa’s 31-14 playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys in a game that was far more lopsided than even the score might suggest.
Here’s the point: Brady is still pretty good. He’s just not great. Could he win with a roster like San Francisco’s? Maybe. But his teammates might have to carry him more than they ever have before.
For now, at least, Patrick Mahomes is the new NFL standard bearer
TAMPA, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 02: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs shakes hands with Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 41-31 at Raymond James Stadium on October 02, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Now that Brady is officially retired – in his words now – “for good,” let there be no doubt about Patrick Mahomes’ place atop the list of NFL quarterbacks. Truth be told, Mahomes has been there for multiple years now, but the official departure of Brady removes any gray area or sense of propriety. In his five years as a starter, Mahomes has been to five straight AFC Championship Games. In less than two weeks, he’ll be playing in his third Super Bowl and seeking his second title. Mahomes has a long, long way to go to challenge Brady, but in the current NFL, everyone else is chasing Mahomes.
Referring to Brady with an acronym that described a barnyard animal is hackneyed beyond belief and downright disrespectful
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 03: A fan dressed as a goat representing Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers watches the game between the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Seriously, do you realize how stupid you sound when you say this – regardless of whether or not it’s true? There are select few athletes in sports that get categorized as elite winners and Brady is undoubtedly one of them. Bill Russell. Michael Jordan. Henri Richard. Mark Messier. Yogi Berra. Joe DiMaggio. Derek Jeter. That is just a small sampling of those both historical and more modern in nature, but you get the idea. Brady is at or near the top of the list. And he will be there forever.
Brady had so many great moments as a Patriot that people can choose their own
Jan 20, 2019; Kansas City, MO: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reacts after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs during overtime in the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium. (Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
The 2001 Super Bowl? The comeback against Atlanta? The rally against Seattle? They’re all on the list of Brady’s greatest games as a member of the Patriots, whom he elevated to royalty during his 20-year career in New England. Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft all played big roles in the Patriots’ rise, but let’s not get petty. Brady has been more responsible than anyone in the Patriots extraordinary metamorphosis.
My favorite Brady game? Probably his last AFC Championship victory over Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in January 2019. The final was 37-31. Brady threw only touchdown and had two interceptions while posting a quarterback rating of just 77.1, but he positively breathtaking in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Patriots scored touchdown on the final three possessions of the game, during which Brady went 5-for-5 on third downs, including three completions on third-and 10 during the decisive possession of the game.