We all knew Tom Brady was good. We all knew he was one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play professional football. We all knew he was a winner. Despite all of things we all knew, Tom Brady showed us another part of himself last night: he is exceptional.
Now, I’m not above hyperbole every now and again—you know, for literary effect. But I want to make sure we’re on the record now that when I say “exceptional,” I mean that he is, in the strictest dictionary-definition sense, atypically good or outstanding. I’m not being hyperbolic or figurative. I’m being literal.
As in, no player in NFL history, except Tom Brady, has more than five Super Bowl wins. Tom Brady has seven. As in, no player in NFL history, except Tom Brady, has more than three Super Bowl Most Valuable Player awards. TB12 has five. As in, no other player in NFL history, except Tom Brady, has won a Super Bowl in three different decades. As in, no other player in NFL history, except Tom Brady, has thrown more than eleven touchdown passes in the Super Bowl. Brady has thrown 21.
No one except Tom Brady has thrown more than 155 passes in the Super Bowl. He’s done it 421 times. No one except Tom Brady has completed more than 103 passes in the Super Bowl. Tom has 277 Super Bowl completions. No one except Tom Brady has thrown for over 414 yards in a single Super Bowl game. Tom’s done it twice, once with 466 yards (Super Bowl LI), and once with 505 yards (Super Bowl LII). No one except Tom Brady has ever won 17 division titles in a career. No quarterback except Tom Brady has more than 16 playoff wins. Tom Brady has 34.
I could go on. I really could. There are literally dozens of other records Tom Brady holds. Regular season, postseason, Super Bowl…it doesn’t matter. Tom Brady has dominated almost every facet of being an NFL quarterback. He even married a model. If he buys a car dealership when he retires, he’ll pretty much hit the successful quarterback trifecta of great career, beautiful wife, face on billboards selling Buicks to the masses.
And sure, there’s some of the negative stuff. Deflate-gate comes to mind, as does the fact that he did commercials for UGG boots. But nobody—not even Tom Brady—is perfect.
But what Tom Brady did last night was possibly his most impressive feat yet. Not statistically, mind you. He barely eclipsed 200 yards passing (21/29 for 201 yards). And yeah, he won the game’s MVP award, but, come on, we all knew that was going to happen if Tampa Bay won. But he showed the world that he’s a winner. He can win without Belichick, without Robert Kraft, without Wes Welker or Julian Edelman or a Mike Vrabel-led defense or the New England Patriots as a franchise.
He wins because he’s a winner. He makes it happen. Not to get too footballish here, but he’s the guy you want in your foxhole if a war breaks out. He’s Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan. He’s not only the greatest NFL quarterback in history, he’s the greatest football player in history. I would bet $100 that he could kick extra points if that’s what his team needed. When he was younger he probably could have played defense in certain situations. It doesn’t matter what the scenario is; it matters that Tom Brady is there, and if Tom Brady is there, then Tom Brady will always have a way to win. He might fail from time to time, but as doubtful as it seems sometimes, Tom Brady is still human.
But human or no, Tom Brady is exceptional.