Let me date myself by saying that my favorite NFL football player as a kid was Drew Bledsoe. A Walla Walla native and WSU Cougar, he was my guy and the New England Patriots were on par with the Seattle Seahawks as my favorite team.
The infamous 2001 season rubbed me the wrong way. Bledsoe suffered a devastating injury and while he nursed himself back to health a young quarterback named Tom Brady took his spot. When Bledsoe was ready to rightfully assume back his position, Bill Belichick denied him. I took what was probably the greatest coaching decision in the history of the game personally. I thought Bledsoe got screwed and that Brady wasn’t half the quarterback that he was. So yeah, I kind of had it out for Brady from the beginning.
However, after a few seasons even I came around and realized that Brady wasn’t really that bad of a football player. Super Bowls have a way of validating your reputation, know what I mean? But I couldn’t bring myself to believe that Brady was ever carrying his New England teams. It was Belichick, The Patriot Way, the blue-collar supporting cast that was really bringing home those Lombardi Trophies.
Then there was Deflategate. Examples of arrogance. The pretty boy persona. The high maintenance prima donna who needed his own cook. Simply, it was all too much for me. The cheating allegations and numerous examples of a “me first” attitude made Brady the one player in the NFL who I rooted against more than anyone else. Numerous times in this blog over the years I voiced my disdain (here and here and here and here) for who I thought was the ultimate NON-team player.
Over the past couple years as my maturity level started to finally trend in the right direction, I let some of my bitterness toward Brady fall by the wayside. I found myself kind of admiring the fact that someone who was approaching his forties could still be at the top of his game.
Despite my somewhat new appreciation for Tom Brady, I would be lying if I said I was heartbroken when Belichick and Brady “broke up” at the end of last season. The Patriots were moving on from their star quarterback and he would no longer have the infrastructure to make playoff runs.
Boy, was I wrong.
In the ultimate statement of who was truly responsible for New England’s 19 seasons of success, the Patriots missed out on the 2021 playoffs and Tom Brady is going to his 10th Super Bowl as the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
How do you put into perspective Brady’s performance this season? He literally defied all odds by leading a new team to the promised land at 42 years of age. Not only that, but he did it the hard way by navigating through the playoffs as a wild card team.
Tom Brady, I respect you. Please excuse my childish grudges of the past. It took me long enough but at least I have come around while you are still in the league. Of course, anyone with a heart that still beats could recognize your greatness after watching this season. Best of luck in the Super Bowl. Don’t Blink.