Photo Credit: bostonglobe.com/The Associated Press
Almost one-year ago, Tom Brady decided to migrate down south and sign a two-year, $50 million dollar contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady’s decision to leave the Patriots caused hysteria across the National Football League, along with NFL fans and analysts. After spending two decades as the face of not just the Patriots organization, but in all of Boston sports, many predicted that Brady would finish his career in New England rather than deciding to start fresh with a new organization. As many athletes do, especially the great ones, they always feel as if they have something left to prove to the doubters before they call it a career. For Brady, winning six Super Bowls, and being named league MVP three times was not enough for the 43 year-old. It is no known secret what Tom Brady has done and what he has meant to New England sports, but there was still something on Brady’s resume with an asterisk; winning without the Patriots and head coach, Bill Belichick.
When news broke that Brady was going to be continuing his career with the Bucs, many pundits wondered who would suffer more without the other in their corner. Not only did people wonder which person would suffer more, but also wondered, which team would have the most success? Will the Bucs be better than the Patriots? Was it Tom Brady that helped make Belichick known as one of the greatest coaches of all time, or was it Belichick and his system that made the former sixth round draft pick from Michigan one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time? Well folks, we finally have an answer… it was Brady who was the X-Factor behind the Patriots two decade dynasty.
Although the answer has not been known for long, the answer became increasingly clear as the season came to an end and is even more apparent after Brady led the Bucs to the Super Bowl for just the second time in franchise history. Brady started the NFC Championship game strong against the Green Bay Packers, but things got close towards the end after Brady finished the game throwing three interceptions. Luckily for Brady and the Bucs, the Packers offense could not capitalize on those turnovers as the Bucs went on to win with a final score of 31 to 26. Now, after defeating the most likely MVP of the NFL this season in Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady is heading back to the Super Bowl for the 10th time, which also marks the first time that a team playing in the Super Bowl will be playing at their home stadium.
Although the Packers had multiple chances throughout the game to take the lead and send Brady and the Bucs home short of their goal of winning the Lombardi Trophy, Brady proved that he was instrumental in helping make Belichick the successful coach that he is.
As Brady led the Bucs to an 11-5 overall record, the Patriots fell flat on their face ending the season under .500 (7-9), and missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season; the same year Brady sustained a torn ACL in the season opener which forced him to miss the rest of the year.
As an aging veteran quarterback, Brady still managed to play a full 16 games this season, while the Patriots failed to find consistency at the position as the team had three quarterbacks line up under center this year: Cam Newton, Brian Hoyer, and Jarrett Stidham. To make matters worse, Brady ended up throwing for a total of 4,633 passing yards, which was just over 1,500 more passing yards than the three quarterbacks on the Patriots had...combined.
Now, with Super Bowl ring number seven for the games arguably best quarterback in NFL history in sight, Brady has a chance to rub it in the Patriots face one more time, and let everybody know that it was TB12 who meant more to the Patriots organization than fans and analysts ever knew before.
In simpler terms, it was never the “Patriot Way.” It was the Tom Brady way all along.