Tom Brady and The
Boring Legacy of Greatness
In the Midst of Leading the Patriots To Yet Another Super Bowl, Which Further Cements His Legacy As The GOAT, The Unfortunate Result Is Less Drama For Most NFL Fans
Quarterback for the NEw England Patriots, Tom Brady. Image by Keith Allison and used under a Creative Commons license.
By Ryan Scott
Modern Times Magazine
January 23, 2017 - If you’re a Patriots fan, it has been another great season and you’re likely still celebrating that your team has once again asserted their dominance over most of the National Football League.
Tom Brady helped lead yet another would-be astounding comeback against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship game on Sunday, who were up by 10 points early in the fourth quarter. If it were anyone other than Tom Brady who led such a comeback, this would be a truly amazing accomplishment deserving of many Gatorade baths and think pieces talking about how great he is.
While I’m sure many such think pieces will come as a result of the win anyway, it is Brady who made this happen and, that being the case, many folks who don’t happen to worship at the altar of Foxboro might find themselves yawning.
Or angry. In any case, one scroll through Twitter, or your social media platform of choice, reveals that a great many NFL fans are fed up with the greatness that is Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.
Did anyone have any doubt the game was going to end this way? The Jacksonville Jaguars, who had a thrilling ride throughout the NFL playoffs are going home and Brady is heading to another Super Bowl. His eighth since taking over as the quarterback of the New England Patriots in 2001. His legacy as the greatest quarterback in the history of the game is cemented at this point. Firmly. So much so that it’s become straight-up boring for anyone who isn’t a die- hard New England Patriots fan.
Brady is so surgically fantastic at the game that the narrative has become predictable. He’s going to overcome the odds and lead his team to the mountaintop. Even truly great accomplishments can be unexciting if they’re this predictable.
For those like me who are fans of football in general, not just of the Patriots, this isn’t only now starting to get old. It has been old. We want something new. Brady has now been to 12 (yes, 12) AFC Championship games since 2001.
It’s to the point that, in recent years, if the Pats AREN’T in the final four, it feels strange. The Patriots have asserted their unprecedented greatness on the NFL to the degree that it’s literally become unexciting.
Which, in itself, is kind of miraculous. It’s like reading a Superman comic. You know Superman is going to win (yes, I know Superman died once; that’s not the point). There’s absolutely no drama in it anymore.
I am by no means an expert when it comes to football. I’m merely a loving fan who has been watching the NFL for as long as I can remember. I often joke it’s my favorite show. And that’s just it. I love the drama of an NFL season. The unexpected happenings. The fairytale endings. However, many would-be-great football stories are absolutely derailed by Brady and Bill Belichick that it’s downright frustrating.
Think about it this way. Let’s say the Jags had pulled off a win in the AFC CHampionship. Doesn’t that make for a much better story? I’m not even really a Jaguars fan, per se, but we’re looking at a team that’s never won a Super Bowl and a team that has been really bad for a really long time. The Jags going against the Eagles, who are rallying around backup QB Nick Foles? There’s excellent drama in that.
Instead, we get to watch and see if Tom Brady can win a first Super Bowl ring for his second hand. Lame.
And, to be clear, I’m not the kind of football fan that hates the Patriots just because they’re good. And I don’t subscribe to the theory that the referees help the Pats win. There are good and bad calls all over the place. Brady should be applauded for what he’s accomplished.
It’s just hard to love it anymore as someone who sees 31 other teams that could get involved in the drama that is January football. Instead, we’re being treated to a stale story. And what is football if not about the stories we will tell about it in the years to come? What more can Brady say if he gets to hold up a sixth Super Bowl trophy? Honestly, he’s got nothing left to prove.
Look at the Minneapolis Miracle. I’ve watched more football games in my lifetime than I can possibly tally and I’ll never forget that game. Ever. That’s football and really sports in general at its finest, folks.
On the flipside, is anyone outside of Boston (or one of the great many people on the Patriots bandwagon) really going to be talking about Brady’s predictable comeback against the Jaguars this weekend years from now? Perhaps only those in Jacksonville who speak of it bitterly.
Point being, the greatness of Brady is a tired narrative and the only way it’s ever going to stop is if he retires. And, by all accounts, the dude wants to play until his superhuman body tells him it’s literally not possible anymore.
Given how he played this season, who knows when that’s going to be? At this rate we could be watching a legitimate senior citizen leading the Pats to predictable victories in the coming years.
Let’s just think about some hypotheticals that could have happened during the 2017 NFL season if Brady weren’t playing. Look at what Jimmy Garoppolo did in San Francisco with the 49ers.
Imagine if Brady had done the classy thing and retired after winning that fifth Super Bowl ring and handed the keys to the kingdom to Garoppolo. Imagine if he had continued the streak of Patriot greatness. That would have made for a much more interesting narrative. That’s just one example.
It’s not even so much about the Patriots continuing to win. It’s about them winning in the same old way. Hell, imagine a world in which someone other than the Pats managed to win the AFC East? Since 2001, the Patriots have lost the division title just twice — once to the New York Jets in 2002 and once to the Miami Dolphins in 2008.
Wouldn’t it be cool if the Bills, hypothetically, could win the division and get another real shot at the Super Bowl after the famous four falls of Buffalo? Alas, not on Brady’s watch.
I get it: Football is about being the best, and to be the best you have to beat the best. Currently, that means beating Brady and the New England Patriots. I’m not saying the system is broken. I’m saying the system is uninteresting as a result of one man’s miraculous ability to win.
We, the disenfranchised NFL lovers who crave more than another Patriots win in the record books, want something new. Even if it’s boring, it’s no doubt fascinating that Brady’s undeniably amazing accomplishments have turned him into something of a villain who’s only real crime is being quantifiably better than everyone else.
Still, it will be much more exciting, for the NFL as a whole, once the Tom Brady era is over. Sorry to say, but many of us won’t miss you when you’re gone, Tommy boy.
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