By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
Winning a sixth Super Bowl in your ninth appearance over 18 years at the age of 41 would be a storybook ending for almost anybody who has ever dreamed about playing quarterback in the National Football League growing up.
Most mere mortals would look at this most historic run – and one that will never be even close to being approached again – and ask themselves, “What’s left to be done that I already have accomplished?” and head off into the sunset with their supermodel wife and kids, rather than continue to put in the work that it takes to be an elite athlete that is on the cusp of becoming middle-aged.
But not Tom Brady. Not now.
Immediately following the Pats win over the Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta on Sunday – in a game that was anything but super – TB12 told the world that he would not be retiring quite yet, to the annoyance of a nearly entire nation of football fans.
Nevertheless, maybe he should.
The only modern athlete that you could possibly compare Brady to is Michael Jordan. The owner of six championships himself, who dominated NBA basketball with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. Jordan also had his run-ins with the league office, so much so, they told him to go play baseball for a year because of rumors of gambling issues.
Upon his return following a year of sitting on the Mendoza Line for then-manager Terry Francona with the Birmington Barrons at the age of 31, Jordon returned to the Bulls in ’94 and promptly won three more titles.
While the debate over who was better in their individual sports would make for entertaining banter at a bar with your buddies, how it ended for the GOAT of the NBA is what Brady should be concerned about.
Brady has consistently said that when he sucks he will quit, and he clearly doesn’t suck quite yet. A year away from an MVP season and following three straight years of making it to the last game of the NFL season is proof of that.
— Joe Giza (@JoeGiza) December 10, 2018
But even the great Tom Brady can’t continue to keep Mother Nature at bay forever.
In the bizarre early December loss to the Dolphins in Miami – I don’t need to remind anyone of that here – Brady suffered a knee injury that greatly affected his ability to throw the ball. He looked bad against the Steelers in Pittsburgh the following week (17-10 loss), horrific against the Bills at home (48.3 passer rating and 2 interceptions in a 24-12 blowout win), before getting fat against a Jets team that had their sunscreen already stored away in their travel golf bags.
And while their playoff run ended as well as anyone could have wished for, he threw more picks (3) than touchdowns (2) this postseason. Had the Rams no played like frightened school kids in the first half and came back to win the game, Brady’s inability to put points on the board for nearly the entire game would have fed nicely into the narrative that he is over the hill.
Of course, as we all know, Brady played his best when his team needed him the most, but how much longer can he be expected to do that?
The way he drove the ball downfield in the fourth quarter to send the confetti flying and the Rams packing is how Brady should be remembered. Holding the Lombardi Trophy in one hand and flipping the rest of the football world is the way this story should have ended.
But not for the GOAT. Like his entire, unprecedented Hall of Fame career, Brady’s script is uniquely his own. I just it doesn’t end the way his former fierce rival Peyton Manning’s did in Denver with the Broncos, looking like a shell of his former self, trying to shotput footballs five yards while his critics celebrate his demise.
Who knows, maybe Brady has one more famous final scene left in his history-making manuscript, only time will tell. Hollywood would have a difficult time writing anything that could have been better than the way Brady led his team to victory in the final minutes of the Super Bowl on Sunday night in Atlanta.
Jordan finished his career in Washington, playing two milquetoast seasons as a JAG for the Wizards, letting his competitive nature get the best of his head.
That’s something Tom Terrific might want to spend some time thinking about that this spring. Perhaps then he will realize there may be no better way to fade to black than now.