Two weeks ago, after the New England Patriots incredible, come from behind victory in Super Bowl LI over the Atlanta Falcons, there has been constant debate over Tom Brady’s status as possibly the greatest QB in NFL history. In my opinion, not only did that win cement his place as the greatest quarterback in NFL history, it cemented his place as the greatest NFL player of the 21st century. It also places him as the fourth greatest athlete of the 21st century.
It’s been 17 years since Tom Brady was selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. Incredible, Brady was a mere afterthought on draft day. So called football experts downplayed his potential and ability. Yet, beginning with the 2001 NFL season, Brady began to prove all these so called experts and naysayers wrong. In 2001, after Patriots starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured a mere four games into the season, Brady began his legendary run. He shocked the world by leading the Patriots to one of the biggest upsets in NFL history, a Super Bowl XXXVI victory over the heavily favored St. Louis Rams, a team led by future hall of famers Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk. Brady won his first of five Super Bowls and first of four Super Bowl MVP’s. In 2002 and 2003, Brady would lead New England to two more Super Bowl titles. After only five years in the league, Brady already had three Super Bowl titles. He was far from finished.
In 2007, Brady would set the NFL record for most touchdown passes with 50. He also lead New England to an undefeated regular season record of 16-0. However, in what was the greatest upset of the 21st century, New England shockingly lost in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. It placed a huge asterisk next to their undefeated regular season. Four years later, Brady and New England were upset again by the Giants in the Super Bowl. So called experts were beginning to question Brady’s legacy.
In Super Bowl XLIX, New England trailed by ten points to the defending champion Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter. Brady, with ice water in his veins, led two great touchdown drives to take the lead by four points. Seattle had a chance to win with seconds left, but a game saving interception at the goal line secured Brady and the Patriots their fourth Super Bowl championship. The best was yet to come.
Just two weeks ago, late in the third quarter, the Atlanta Falcons had what seemed to be an insurmountable 28-3 lead over New England. Then, all of a sudden, Brady began the single greatest comeback in NFL history. He was akin to a machine, hitting pinpoint passes all over a tiring Atlanta defense. With less than a minute to play in regulation time, Brady tied the game at 28. Then, in the very first possession of the very first Super Bowl to go to overtime, Brady the machine kept rolling. He orchestrated a 75 yard drive that culminated in his fifth Super Bowl championship and fourth Super Bowl MVP, records that he now solely owns. At the age of 39, Brady continues to play on an elite level. Back in 2005, I christened Brady the “Golden Boy.” The Golden Boy is the greatest quarterback I’ve ever seen in forty years of watching the NFL. He’s also the fourth greatest athlete of the 21st century.