Following the footsteps of a legend

by Gary Shelton on January 25, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Brady has made his biggest steps in the Super Bowl./JEFFREY S. KING

Friday, 4 a.m.

It's his game, really. It's his crowd, and his stadium, and his television network. It's his parking lot, and his referees, and his supporting cast.

Everything about the Super Bowl belongs to Tom Brady. The rest of the players are mere details, backup singers to the greatest rock star the game has known. It's his legend, and the latest of his moments, and even the great Bill Belichick is his coach.

Forget that this is his ninth Super Bowl, and his fifth time to be MVP. He is a 14-time Pro Bowler, a three time league MVP, the winner of a record 232 games. Brady, the hungriest athlete in the history of pro football, is out for more.

And maybe that's the key to Brady. He is insatiable. None of the titles have satisfied him, and none of the money, and none of the

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celebrity. He is a man in love with success, and he seems to find it everywhere he turns.

But his best moments.

Let's reflect on constructing a legend in 10 simple steps.

Step One: Humble beginnings:The best stories start with forgettable details unless they surround a legend. In 2000, the Patriots picked Brady in the sixth round with the 199th pick. If anyone from New England wants to tell you the team thought it had a steal, they're lying. The Patriots didn't even spend their first sixth-round draft pick on Brady. They picked cornerback Antwan Harris. Well, oops. His first season, Brady completed only one pass, and threw only three. No one saw a star in the making except perhaps Brady, who told Robert Kraft he would be the best decision he had ever made.

Opposing quarterback: Lore says that the Patriots debated whether to draft Brady or Tim Rattay with the 199th pick.

Step Two: Super Bowl XXXVI. Brady's break came when Drew Bledsoe, a solid quarterback, was injured early in the 2001 season. Brady came on to start 14 games, and win 11 of them. He survived the Tuck Rule against the Raiders.

Still, there was a school of thought that, to upset the Rams in the Super Bowl, the team would have to return to Bledsoe. Well, no. Brady threw for only 145 yards, but after the Rams came back to tie the game at 17, Brady led the Patriots on a drive from their own 17 with no time-outs and 90 seconds to play to the winning field goal. It was the first Super Bowl decided on the game's final play.

Opposing quarterback: Kurt Warner.

Step Three: Super Bowl XXXVIII: The Carolina Panthers took a 22-21 lead with 6:53 left, and Jake Delhomme tied things up at 29-29 with  68 seconds left. Again, it was plenty of time for Brady, who led his team downfield to set up a field goal by Adam Vinatieri. Once again, the Patriots had won by three.

Brady threw for 354 yards in the game and won his second game MVP

Opposing quarterback: Jake Delhomme.

Step Four: Super Bowl XXXIX. Another year, another field goal. This time, the Patriots had the Super Bowl in hand before the Eagles scored to make it closer. Brady had a rating of 110.2, the second highest rating of any of his Super Bowls.

Opposing quarterback: Donavan McNabb.

Step Five: Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots were within a whisper of being hailed as the greatest team of all time when Brady led them onto the field for the Super Bowl. He had thrown for 50 touchdowns during the season. After all, New England was playing the Giants, a wild-card team, and figured to win handily.

They didn't. Eli Manning completed a pass off the head of receiver David Tyree, and the Giants won a stunning upset. Still, Brady had one of his best seasons when he teamed with the dangerous Randy Moss.

Opposing quarterback: Eli Manning.

Step Six: Super Bowl XLVI. Eli did it again. Eli Manning outdueled Brady for a three-point win. But Patriots fans will long remember a fourth-down play when Brady threw to an open Wes Welker, who dropped the pass (yes, it was a little high, but Welker later admitted that he would make that coach 1,000 times out of 1000)  with a 17-15 lead. If he catches it, the game may end differently.

Opposing quarterback: Eli Manning.

Step Seven: Super Bowl XLIX. In 2015, Brady was on the sideline when Seattle decided to run rather than pass, and instead threw the game away. Brady, however, was terrific. He threw for  328 yards and four scores to keep the Patriots close enough for the win.

Opposing quarterback: Russell Wilson.

Step Eight: Super Bowl LI. This one is probably embedded in your memory. Trailing 28-3 at one point, Brady led the Patriots to a comeback for the ages. The Patriots won 34-28, and the Falcons never have recovered.

For his career, Brady has 44 fourth-quarter comebacks, but this is the one everyone will remember.

Brady threw for 466 yards in the overtime victory.

Opposing quarterback: Matt Ryan.

Step Nine: Super Bowl LII. Brady's team lost another Super Bowl, but Brady was fabulous. He threw for 505 yards and three scores, but the Eagles simply had too many weapons.

Opposing quarterback: Nick Foles.

Step 10: That one happens this weekend, when Brady plays a pretty good Rams' defense in an attempt to pad his trophy case. Just as big of a question is whether the Patriots can hold down the Rams' potent offense.

Brady had his ninth season of throwing for more than 4,000 yards.

Opposing quarterback: Jared Goff.



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