An ode to Brady, the greatest to ever play

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons | Tom Brady made his NFL debut in 2000, and his teams missed the playoffs just three times (2000, 2002, 2008) during his 23-year career.

Luke Henne | Editor-in-Chief

Feb. 2, 2023

Sometimes, it can be hard to admit when the person who should be your greatest foe is worthy of all the success they’ve earned.

Growing up in a family of Steelers fans, Tom Brady is supposed to be the arch nemesis. Being a New York Giants fan, I’m supposed to be the one that gets to brag about how the Giants handed Brady two of his three Super Bowl losses.

With a brother that latched on to Brady and the New England Patriots from the time he was 8 years old, all the circumstances told me I shouldn’t be able to stand Brady.

I never, not once, had a problem rooting for Brady. In fact, the only NFL game I attended this season was when the Steelers played Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Why? Because Brady is the best to ever play the game of football, and I wanted to see him one final time before he retired.

On Wednesday, Brady retired for the second time, saying that this one was “for good.” His first retirement came on Feb. 1, 2022, exactly one year prior to his most-recent announcement.

Just 40 days after hanging them up for the first time, Brady unretired and came back for the 2022 campaign.

Why? Because his will to win and desire to compete are unmatched by just about anyone who’s ever played a professional sport.

Brady’s Patriots missed the postseason in two of his first three seasons in the league, and a torn ACL in the 2008 season opener caused him to miss the rest of the season, but this was arguably one of the toughest years of Brady’s career.

In his first two seasons with the Buccaneers, Brady won a Super Bowl in 2020 and erased a 24-point deficit in what would be a heartbreaking playoff loss to the eventual-champion Los Angeles Rams in 2021.

During the 2022 campaign, Brady dealt with numerous injuries to key players, but he also split from longtime wife Gisele Bündchen after more than 13 years of marriage.

Yet somehow, someway, Brady persevered and led Tampa Bay to its third-consecutive division title. Although the Buccaneers were 8-9, Brady found a way into the playoffs yet again.

Even in a first-round matchup in which they were humiliated by the Dallas Cowboys 31-14, Brady stayed in for the entire game, giving all he had left to give to the game that had given him so much.

The sixth-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft was never supposed to make it this far. He was supposed to be the backup to Drew Bledsoe in New England, but fate had different plans.

After Bledsoe went down with an injury, Brady slotted in, and the rest is history.

There’s no disputing that Brady not only changed the trajectory of both the Patriots and Buccaneers franchises forever, but he changed the game forever.

In his storied career, Brady appeared in 10 Super Bowls (won seven), while also earning five Super Bowl MVP Awards, three NFL MVP Awards and 15 trips to the NFL Pro Bowl.

He also holds the league’s records for most career quarterback wins, passing completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns.

Brady’s impact goes beyond the statistics and accolades.

He earned his way to glory, and never gave up when circumstances were difficult. Even after all he’d accomplished prior to his first retirement, he came back for one final season because of his innate hunger for success on the football field.

If this is truly the end of Brady’s career, I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.

Even as a Giants fan living amongst a family of Steelers fans who are continually annoyed by my brother being a Patriots fan, it was never hard to watch Brady thrive on a continual basis.

Winners will do whatever it takes to win, and Brady did that for 23 seasons.