The quarterback position in American Football is one that requires more intangible traits than any other position in professional sports. A quarterback at its rawest form is a facilitator, one that sets up offenses, and then executes the play. Other sports have facilitators, but few of those facilitators can achieve full autonomy over the offense.
Sports like basketball, have a point guard position, and the point guards job is strictly to facilitate. When you have players like Lebron James, who can play the post, shoot the basketball, drive the basketball to the rim and facilitate an offense like a point guard, that player can impact the game at a much higher level than other players who don’t have as many dimensions. This is the same principle when talking about famous soccer player Lionel Messi.
Some players have unique athletic and mental capabilities that others don’t, and it comes naturally to them and is polished by hard work. In football, soccer, and most sports people are born with these gifts. The gifts usually become apparent from a young age.
Even in a diverse, and physical game like football, players and even quarterbacks are ranked and evaluated accordingly. Football scouts will measure everything; throwing ability, running ability, throwing accuracy, intelligence, patience, hand size, body size, they may even try to piss you off to generate some sort of reaction, testing your grit and mental toughness.
All of these tools were past down from scouts, and they were tried and true according to most people in the business. The only reason Tom Brady started playing football is that the Quarterback who was ahead of him in high school quit the team.
This gave Tom Brady, his first opportunity to take the field in organized competition. Brady was tall, he was quick-witted, and he had a loud voice in the huddle. He was also very slow on his feet compared to some college prospects, didn’t often leave the pocket even under pressure, and his arm wasn’t that impressive to scouts.
Brady was good enough though to land him a roster spot at Michigan University, where he would fight like hell with Brian Griese, Drew Hensen and others for playing time.
It wasn’t until his senior season that he would be solidified as a starter, he would take Michigan to and win the Orange Bowl.
If Tom Brady hadn’t been through enough doubt in his life. He wasn’t given much respect in the NFL draft either. Only one team picked up the phone to ask about Tom Brady’s services. Tom Brady and his father were 49er fans and were even in the end zone during Dwight Clark’s Catch, one of the most significant moments in football history. His father had hoped the 49ers would draft Tom, give him an opportunity. But they weren’t the only team that called to ask about Tom Brady.. That was the New England Patriots.
After six rounds and six other quarterbacks were taken, Bill Bellicheck called Tom Brady, and one of the most significant football unions in history began.
His father, a San Francisco 49er season ticket holder, was devastated and was now ready to follow the team that gave his son a chance, the New England Patriots. With 5 QBs entering camp, Toms chances were not looking good as he was not a good rookie prospect. Bellicheck and Robert Kraft has mixed feelings on Brady, he was not athletic compared to his peers, he was not as good of an arm talent as the other QBs in camp. But Brady showed that he was absolutely receptive to all coaching, Tom had an intensity for football that was unmatched by anyone else on the roster, and he was incredibly focused.
Tom made the team.
Tom Brady was someone who inspired confidence in his coach and his teammates. So much so that he went from 4th QB on the active roster to the backup,
And when Drew Bledsoe, the Pro Bowl starter for the Patriots got injured, Tom Brady took the starting position and never looked back.
Always being disrespected, overlooked, not even scouted, Brady was ready to make the NFL pay dearly. Brady has improved every single year in the NFL. First he dominated the playbook, then he developed his arm talent, then after winning a few Super Bowls with the Patriots. He would soon become an MVP by throwing 50 Touchdowns and breaking NFL Records.
Brady became more of a coach on the field each year that he played.
By 2015 Brady was considered by a few, as the greatest Quarterback of all time.
His childhood hero, Joe Montana, had 4 Super Bowls and was considered by most to be the best ever to do it.
In the Super Bowl, Brady would face the Seattle Seahawks, the reigning champions, the team that decimated Tom Brady’s rival, and one of the greatest QBs of all time Peyton Manning.
The “Legion of Boom” led by Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman would dominate the Broncos in 2014, and many thought Seattle would be a dynasty, destined to win back to back titles.
The game was tied at halftime. In the second half, Brady would do something against the Legion of Boom that no one had done in the playoffs. He threw 14/15 to finish the game and led his team to a game-winning drive to put his team over the top followed by his defense getting an interception clinching his 4th Super Bowl. The chatter for the greatest of all time went from whispers to television talk shows.
The comeback kid was what they called him. However, his next Super Bowl would redefine the nickname. One of the great things about Tom Brady is something that no one else in sports can quiet relate to his unique journey. As Mel Kiper, Draft Analyst at ESPN said: “There never will be another Tom Brady, you won’t see a 6th round Quarterback be as good as he ended up being.”
Brady possesses something that few own, A hyper-ability to learn and adapt. Brady’s determination and understanding of his limitations and how to exceed his limitations whether they be physical, mental, or just being doubted by people helps him understand how to make others better.
Not only has Tom Brady thrown touchdowns to 71 different players, but Brady also takes average talented receivers and makes them pro bowlers. When his offensive teammates decide to leave the Patriots, rarely do they have much success.
Julian Edelman is a concrete example of Brady making someone better, but there are many.
Edelman, like Brady, wasn’t a high draft pick. He was picked in the 7th and last round. Edelman was a quarterback from Kent State, and came to the NFL wanting to win football games.
Bellicheck, Brady, and Mcdaniels would morph Edelman from a skinny QB from Kent State into a Pro Bowl NFL slot receiver. Edelman’s determination towards winning, like Brady’s is intense and he would replace and supersede Wes Welker, another guy who benefited from Brady, as the favorite slot target.
On Sunday, Edelman and Brady will have gone to 5 Super Bowls together.
Kindred spirits, overlooked by the league they shocked the world. In 2017, the Patriots would face the Falcons in Brady’s record 8th Super Bowl appearance,
Down 28-3 the Patriots were looking at the worst Super Bowl loss of their franchise.
Brady, McDaniels the Offensive Coordinator, and Julian Edelman came out in the second half with a single purpose, “complete the greatest comeback in history” as Julian Edelman loudly worded it in the Locker room.
Brady heard the message, absorbed McDaniels new screen first, slot first, throw first game plan and went to work. The comeback kid, now 39 years old, with Bellicheck’s defense giving up 0 points in the second half, and Julian Edelman catching the impossible catch ever in the Super Bowl, would complete the greatest comeback with ease. Twenty-eight points down, he would close the deficit and win his 5th title, separating himself from every other Quarterback as the greatest Quarterback in history, both based on success and longevity.
It’s 2019, Tom Brady and Bill Bellicheck enter their record 9th super bowl, with five victories. There is no bar to reach; there is no one ahead of him, there is no one doubting Tom Brady anymore. Tom changed his body, he changed his brain, he changed his technique, he changed his habits, he changed everything you can think of, and he’s still striving for a version of perfection that none of us have ever seen.
Brady’s trials and tribulations catapulted a man who wasn’t naturally gifted like Lebron James, wasn’t highly touted like Peyton Manning, into the most consistent and poised, and undoubtedly the greatest QB of all time.
He offered us the most exceptional performance in Super Bowl history, he’s already put up record numbers in his career, Brady has already done it all, Brady just turning 41, and he’s back for more.
Not all Legends are made the same.