The will to win

If you are not from Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, or Rhode Island, chances are you were rooting for the underdog Atlanta Falcons on Super Bowl Sunday.  I was a part of this majority.  I couldn’t bear to see those practice-spying football-deflating cheaters win another ring. The New England Patriots had won four Super Bowls since 2001, while all of Atlanta’s four major sports team combined had only won one championship in history.

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graphic by John Liang

But when you witness the greatest quarterback ever lead the greatest dynasty ever to the greatest comeback victory ever in the greatest game ever, you just have to shake your head and smile.

After winning his record-breaking fifth Lombardi trophy and fourth Super Bowl MVP, Tom Brady is without a doubt the greatest quarterback to ever play the game we love.  Before his signature performance in Houston, this was in the discussion. Now, there is simply no debate.

Throughout his career, Brady has always been the epitome of perfection.  His overall regular season record is an insane 183 wins and 52 losses.  His career touchdown to interception ratio is 456 to 152. What makes these numbers unbelievable is how they demonstrate the consistency Brady has shown over his 16-year career.  Most elite quarterbacks start to decline in ability as they enter their late thirties. Tom Brady, on the other hand, threw for 28 touchdowns and a career low of two interceptions in 2016-2017 at the ripe age of 39, en route to his fifth Super Bowl victory.

One of the most astounding facts that certifies Brady’s brilliance is that he has never won a Super Bowl with a Pro-Bowl wide receiver.  Despite not having even a single top-tier wideout in his five seasons as a world champion, Brady was still able to put up dazzling numbers and win the ultimate prize. Joe Montana, who was considered by many to be the greatest QB of all time, had the best wide receiver of all time, Jerry Rice, for all four of his superbowls. This past season, Brady was able to win it all with wide receivers Julian Edelman, who played quarterback in college, and Chris Hogan, who played lacrosse in college.

Statistics are wonderful and all, but what really defines a player as the greatest of all time is their legacy and the defining performance that encapsulates their entire career. Tom Brady’s defining moment came the night of February 5.  After a shaky first three quarters and his team being down 28-3, Brady led the most remarkable comeback in Super Bowl history and sent the Super Bowl to overtime for the first time ever. From the coin toss to the toss to James White, Brady ended his iconic drive and game with a Super Bowl record of 466 yards and an MVP.

Brady may not have the incredible arm strength of Aaron Rodgers or the uncanny wisdom of Peyton Manning. Tangibly, he can be considered to be a very accurate quarterback and simply a pocket passer.  But what makes Brady the best ever at his position are his intangibles: his “it” factor and unwavering will to win.  He went out and rallied his team from 25 points down to complete a victory for the ages. This was his legendary moment.

Say what you will about the Patriots. Call them out for their recent scandalous history.  But do not take their quarterback for granted. Because soon, he will retire, and you’ll be sorry that you blinked and never truly appreciated seeing the greatest ever to toss the pigskin.

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