Many things come to mind when I think of Tom Brady: the first Super Bowl he won when few really knew him, the many times he broke my heart as a fanthe interesting last time I saw him at court level, and even on my wedding day.
“The real reason Ricardo and Jill decided to get married in this church is because Tom Brady was married on this very altar,” Monsignor Torgerson recounted jokingly during my religious wedding in 2013 in Santa Monica, California. A few years earlier, the then Patriots quarterback and model Gisele Bündchen had been married on the spot by Torgerson, Tom’s personal friend.
Tom Brady announced his retirement on Wednesday morning, now “final” in a video in which he barely held back tears. This came a year after saying he was retiring, only to change his mind weeks later, return to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, allegedly causing his divorce from Bündchen.
In the eyes of the public, Brady must have hung up his helmet last year after that memorable playoff game against the Los Angeles Ramsa team that eliminated him in an epic battle that, despite the adverse result, once again showed the unbreakable soul of the most successful player that has ever existed in professional American football.
That afternoon in January 2022, I got as close as I could to Brady on the field at Tampa Stadium knowing that I might be witnessing his final hours on the “field.” It was in any case his last game as reigning champion and an honor to see him fight to the end.
But obviously he didn’t feel the same way back in 2002.
Tom Brady, the most hated man in sports
The then-young New England quarterback edged out Kurt Warner and the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI in one of the NFL’s biggest upsets on record. That unexpected championship that elevated Tom Brady left many doubts in the air.
First for the “Tuck rule” game against the Oakland Raiders, when the refs “took out of their sleeve” a phantom rule never applied until then that saved the Patriots from a Brady fumble on the snow of Foxboro. New England won in overtime to advance. Given the malaise of the general public, the emergence of a future dynasty was outlined.
And then due to suspicions that the Patriots had stolen signals from Pittsburgh in the AFC final. Outside the Steelers locker room and in the honorable company of Franco Harris, the legendary running back who passed away this past December, I heard New England players taunt their rivals. Suspicions grew when it emerged that the Patriots had indeed illegally filmed a Rams practice prior to the Super Bowl.
The Patriots quickly became the most hated team in American sports, and therefore Tom Brady was the identified enemy.. They, enjoying popular disdain, were crowned again in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX.
The villainous Brady was vindicated
Ten years later, Brady and his Pats returned to the throne by winning Super Bowl XLIX. By then my opinion of the man born in San Mateo, California, was very different. His consistency and gallantry gradually won me over as a fan and as an analyst. I’m sure the same thing happened to many others. NFL fans. It was quite a process.
And I have to admit, watching Brady receive another Lombardi trophy after beating the Seattle Seahawks from the press box at the stadium in Glendale, Arizona, gave me joy.
It turns out that in the two weeks prior to that game the so-called “Deflategate”, the scandal that Brady allegedly asked to deflate the game balls to your taste. It is true that the rules of the game must be followed, even the lesser known ones, but the idea that the Pats and Brady had reached the Super Bowl for that reason was a real joke in a sport like this. It felt like a witch hunt.
Also, the NFL commissioner’s treatment of the case that year and the next, pushing the issue to the court level, was appalling. So watching Roger Goodell hand Brady the MVP award was satisfying.
Brady won his fifth title in Super Bowl LI with his masterpiece: the historic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons after being down 28-3 on the scoreboard. And those who don’t remember the details of the somersault will surely remember Brady’s tantrum when he discovered that his No. 12 game jersey had been stolen after the game. Sadly, the thief turned out to be a Mexican “journalist”.
“The GOAT” Brady and another sad night for the Rams
Two years later, already in my role as a radio analyst for the Rams, I had to comment in Atlanta how Brady did enough to win the crown again and prevent Los Angeles from celebrating a long-awaited championship. It was at Super Bowl LIII. Already then almost nobody could dare to question if “TB12” was the greatest in history, or as they say in English, “The GOAT”.
With all the important quarterback records in his possession, Brady left New England for Florida and in his first year with the Buccaneers he did it again: winning the Super Bowl, his seventh, at 43 years of age. By the way, the three Super Bowls that he lost, he played well and came close to winning them too.
Tom Brady, whose final game ended in a loss against Dallas in which he threw 66 passes on Jan. 16, He leaves the playing field with monstrous numbers, many records that seem unattainable and the total admiration of the fans, including his opponents on the field and his detractors..
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this mythological man of the modern NFL is that he did it all without ever having been the quarterback with the strongest arm, nor the most accurate, nor the one with the best reads on the line of scrimmage, not even close. less the most versatile because mobility was never his thing.
Brady did it with his high ability to make all kinds of passes, with his enormous intelligence and cunning as a fox, and above all with an insatiable appetite for triumphs.leadership at its best that at all times elevated his peers, and an absolute hatred of failure.
An era is over, the Tom Brady era, and honestly it will take a while to imagine the NFL without him.