Everyone hates the Patriots. Even those that don’t really watch a lick of football or have a proverbial “dog in the fight” hate the Patriots. Some might give you a long list as to why and toss out key words such as “Cheater” and “Classless” while others just hate the fact that they win all the time. It’s no different than the Yankees or the Warriors…success changes things. Success highlights EVERYTHING to the point where fans don’t even like the way a guy says hello. Take Tom Brady for example, arguably the best QB, the best professional athlete ever yet you’d be hard pressed to find fans with good things to say about him. Even when acknowledging his greatness critics followup a great stat or accomplishment with a “but he cheated” or “but he’s had the best coach in the history of the NFL”….who also cheated and was not a good coach before running things in New England……but I digress.
So, is Tom Brady a product of Bill Belichick’s system? Is he a product of various forms of cheating? (Spygate, Deflategate, watergate….wait wrong gate) Or is Tom Brady, a 14 time pro bowler, winner of 5 SB’s and 4 MVP’s, truly the best QB to play the game…or at the very least one of the best?
In order to truly determine just how good Tom Brady was before and after getting his shot as a starter in the NFL, I tend to look back at his career as a QB for the Michigan Wolverines. When he started his college playing career, he was listed at 7th on the depth chart. Being highly competitive, that spot left him frustrated, yet motivated to move up the ranks. So much so that he hired a sports psychologist to help him cope with the every day anxiety that he struggled with while competing for a better spot on the depth chart. Eventually, Brady would overtake the starting job and went 20-5 in his 2 year career with the Wolverines including his 2 biggest victories at the Citrus bowl and Orange Bowl. Brady finished his career ranking 3rd in Michigan history with 710 attempts and 442 completions, fourth with 5,351 yards and 62.3 completion percentage, and fifth with 35 touchdown passes. How about that? A guy that was so far from starting with Michigan he almost transferred to Cal. His determination and work ethic landed him a big role for a big time college football team.
His story is one of those stories as sports fans we eat up. He was an underdog in college and an underdog in the NFL as he was drafted in the 6th round of the 2000 draft. However, the majority of sports fans say he’s overrated, spoiled, arrogant, a cheater and so on. Michael Jordan was a gambler, punched teammates and quit to play baseball yet he is, and rightfully so, regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time. He was a winner, no question, but some might argue that Tom Brady has handled his success better than MJ. You won’t hear Brady talk about his status as one of the best ever. MJ, although humbly, discusses it often. So why do you hate a guy that represents the American dream? Before he concluded his post game interview (on the field) he said hello to his family in a heartfelt way. He also acted like the win over the Chiefs was his first AFC Championship victory. He plays with so much enthusiasm and love for the game but is more likely to garner comparisons to the bad boys of the league rather than revered as one of the good ones.
Other than deflate gate, Brady stays out of the negative spotlight. He doesn’t really drink or party. He’s a family man and he’s a good sport (he had a brief cameo in Ted 2). Aside from all that, he’s just a ridiculously good football player. Since 2001 we’ve seen Tom Brady in the playoffs all but two seasons (one season he was injured in week 1 and out for the remainder.) He and his Patriots have been a fixture in the AFC Championship as they’ve played in 8 in a row dating back to 2011. He’s the lone Patriot from his first SB appearance to the 2019 installment not only because of his rare skill set but because of his dedication to his body and insuring he’s in tip top shape year in and year out. He played in the era before WR’s and QB’s were treated like porcelain dolls and now in the era of the high paced offense and where the best pass rushers look more like Captain America. Let’s not forget he may or may not have a head coach that was doing his best to groom a young QB while silently wishing Brady would either get traded or retire….but even according to Brady, that’s simply not true. Even if it was, Brady remained committed to the organization that drafted him nearly 20 years ago.
Sure, we can all point to the “cheating” thing, but either way you slice it, Brady is a winner. He now has two SB’s since being accuses of removing a baby’s breath of air from a football so it clearly wasn’t the football that was giving him the edge.
Is he a product of a system? I am no football genius but I’ve been watching for a long time. The eye test is as true as it can get and Brady passes it with flying colors. His poise in the pocket, his patience and that cannon of an arm. He may not be the greatest of all time in your eyes but I am not so sure he deserves all the hate.