Brady’s Brilliance

With contract extension, New England QB looking to cement G.O.A.T. status
Entering his 20th NFL season, New England Patriots quarterback is looking for his 10th Super Bowl appearance, career records for passing yardage and touchdowns, and his place as the greatest of all time. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

 

Americans love the story of the underdog overcoming adversity and rising to success.

A little over two decades ago, professional football fans looked the coming of a player who most anticipated would be among, if not, the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.

Most had their eye on a field general with excellent pedigree who played his college ball in Knoxville, Tenn. The Indianapolis Colts selected Peyton Manning with the top overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft, and the QB from New Orleans would go on to rewrite the NFL record books. Over his 18-year-career, Manning played in four Super Bowls, winning two, on his way to becoming the NFL’s all-time career leader in passing touchdowns and yards.

As Manning was becoming a darling of the sports world, the University of Michigan was experiencing a quarterback controversy. Future NFL quarterback Brian Griese led the 1997 Wolverines to an undefeated season, Rose Bowl victory, and a share of the national championship. Big Blue was able to recruit Drew Henson, who was drafted by the New York Yankees in the third round of the 1998 amateur baseball draft, to play quarterback. While Brady was named the starter for the 1998 and 1999 seasons, the two players shared playing time throughout both seasons.

In the 2000 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots drafted Brady with the in the sixth round with overall pick No. 199. He entered the season as the fourth-string quarterback, behind starter – and NFL QB prototype – Drew Bledsoe and backups John Friesz and Michael Bishop.

Brady should have been an afterthought, a bit player helping Bledsoe and the Patriots reach Super Bowl glory. Instead, he had quiet confidence in himself and his abilities. Patriots owner Robert Kraft tells a story about meeting Brady for the first time. “He was about to say who he was, but I said ‘I know who you are. You’re Tom Brady. You’re our sixth-round draft choice.’ And he looked me in the eye and said ‘I’m the best decision this organization has ever made.’

Brady served as a backup his rookie season, but was called into action in the second game of the year when Bledsoe suffered internal bleeding after taking a hit. Brady, who was expected to be a placeholder, went in, started winning, and kept winning.

Twenty years after entering the league, he has transformed the Patriots and the NFL, itself. Under his leadership, the Patriots have never had a losing season, have won 16 division titles (more than any other quarterback in NFL history), played in 13 AFC Championship Games – including eight in a row from 2011 to 2018, played in a record nine Super Bowls, winning a record six (tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for most all time), and claimed most of the postseason quarterback records, leading all quarterbacks in postseason and Super Bowl touchdowns, passing yards, and completions.

Individually, he has been named NFL MVP three times (2007, 2010, 2017) and MVP of a record four Super Bowls – XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLIX, and LI – and has been selected to 14 Pro Bowls (tied for the NFL record for most selections).

At 42, Brady’s career has been exceptionally long, but rather than slipping, he may be playing the best football of his life. He is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer, and this week, he signed a two-year, $70 million contract extension with New England, increasing 2019 salary from $15 million to $23 million. Brady is then scheduled to make $30 million in 2020 and $32 million in 2021, though both Brady and New England are “amenable” to adjusting the numbers if necessary, according to NFL Network reporter Ian Rappaport.

Brady has previously said that he’d like to play until he’s 45. He’s now under contract through age 44. What he does in the coming seasons should cement his place as the greatest quarterback of all time.

While Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw are undefeated in four Super Bowls apiece, Brady won 50 percent more championships than either of them. The Patriots enter the season as a favorite to return to the Super Bowl. If that happens, it will mean the Patriots have appeared in nearly 20 percent of the league’s 54 championship games. If they get there and win, Brady will have seven rings and a 70 percent Super Bowl win percentage.

Entering his 20th year in the league, he’s also on the doorstep of conquering the NFL’s two biggest career records for quarterbacks. Brady enters the 2019 season ranked fourth all-time with 70,514 yards, just 3,923 yards behind leader Drew Brees, and 517 touchdowns, 22 behind current leader Peyton Manning.

Brees, of course, is entering his 19th season. He will add to his passing yardage total and trails Manning by 19 TDs to tie the NFL record. Brees will almost surely capture the record for career touchdowns, either this season or next, but Brady will be right behind him adding to his totals and trying to reach the pinnacle.

While the race between Brady and Brees appears to be a two-man competition, Father Time is working against both players. The race for the records will be fun to watch. Will one outlast the other to claim the record outright? Will detractors claim that league violations – filming opponents’ practices, deflating footballs to make them easier to catch, etc. – sully the Patriots and Brady’s reputations, sullying their names and claims as the NFL’s best?

As the NFL kicks off its 100th season, the league has to be thrilled with the position in which it finds itself. Centennial celebrations will take place throughout the year, career records could be rewritten, and one of the league’s best players will be looking to ensure his place as the face of the NFL for all time.

NFL’s All-Time Super Bowl Appearances/Win %

Player Games Record Win %
Tom Brady

9

6-3

0.667

John Elway

5

2-3

0.400

Terry Bradshaw

4

4-0

1.000

Joe Montana

4

4-0

1.000

Roger Staubach

4

2-2

0.500

Peyton Manning

4

2-2

0.500

Jim Kelly

4

0-4

0.000

NFL’s All-Time Career Passing Yardage Leaders

Rank

Player

Yards

1

Drew Brees

74,437

2

Peyton Manning

71,940

3

Brett Favre

71,838

4

Tom Brady

70,514

5

Dan Marino

61,361

NFL’s All-Time Career Passing TD Leaders

Rank

Player

TDs

1

Peyton Manning

539

2

Drew Brees

520

3

Tom Brady

517

4

Brett Favre

508

5

Dan Marino

420

 

 

Categories: The Pennant Chase

Comments

comments