Tom Brady is no longer a member of the Patriots, and nobody should be happier about that than Patriots fans, who are finally free from having to watch one of the most overrated quarterbacks ever as his long fade into irrelevance begins.
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Don’t believe it? Let’s look back at some of the “highlights” of Brady’s time in Foxborough, during which he was admittedly successful — you can’t take away six Super Bowl rings — but not because he was so fantastic.
The legend of Tom Brady began with a snowy mess of an AFC divisional playoff game in which the officials screwed over the Raiders with a rule that had to be changed — even Brady himself admits he fumbled in the Tuck Rule Game. The Patriots won that game because they were fortunate enough to have the most clutch kicker in NFL history, Adam Vinatieri, hit the tying and winning field goals.
The next week, Brady got hurt in Pittsburgh, and Drew Bledsoe came off the bench to save the day and get the Patriots to the Super Bowl.
In that Super Bowl, Brady was named MVP for a performance in which he went 16-for-27 for 145 yards and one touchdown in the first half. You know who else had a touchdown in the first half? Ty Law, who returned an interception 45 yards to get the Patriots on the board after they’d trailed 3-0 into the middle of the second quarter. Law also had seven tackles in the game as the Patriots held the Rams’ “Greatest Show On Turf” attack in check.
“But Brady led the Patriots on a game-winning drive!” Wow, an eight-play, 53-yard slog of mostly dinks and dunks. Yeah, real MVP stuff. You know who should’ve been the MVP, if it wasn’t Law? That’s right, Vinatieri, who was the real reason the Patriots won that game, knocking home a 48-yarder as time expired.
Two years later, Brady was better — 32-for-48 for 354 yards, three touchdowns and an interception — but had a lower quarterback rating in the Super Bowl than his opponent in that game Jake Delhomme. Again, Brady’s big achievement was leading a game-winning drive. Again, he was lucky to be on the same team as the GOAT kicker, as Vinatieri calmly drilled a 41-yard game winner, no thanks to a quarterback who couldn’t get him any closer.
The year after that, Brady needed an MVP performance from Deion Branch to win another Super Bowl, though that award was debatable — as perhaps it should have gone to Rodney Harrison. Of course, if you can’t win a Super Bowl when the opposing quarterback is literally vomiting, what are you even doing in the game? And, yes, once, again, it was a Vinatieri field goal that iced that game, too.
In 2007, Brady was blessed with the opportunity to throw to the best wide receiver football has ever seen, and to his credit, he managed to find Randy Moss for 23 touchdowns during the regular season. Moss spent his entire career making quarterbacks look better than they were, from late-career Randall Cunningham to Brad Johnson to Alex Smith, and Brady was no different — just another guy who happened to be throwing balls in Moss’ personal highlight reel of a career.
The Patriots went 16-0 that season, so when they got to the Super Bowl, it was the biggest game of Brady’s career. Following in the footsteps of Steve Grogan and Bledsoe in that situation, Brady did things The Patriot Way: He lost. At least Grogan lost to the ’85 Bears defense and Bledsoe got outdueled by Brett Favre. Brady got clowned by Eli Manning, who showed what a Super Bowl MVP really is by leading a game-winning touchdown drive that included the greatest escape from pressure and clutch play of all time.
And when Brady got his chance for revenge four years later, once again he could not compete with Manning, who again led a Super Bowl-winning TOUCHDOWN drive to earn MVP honors. That’s the same Eli Manning who had a 117-117 career record. The same dude who would be known as “the guy with the silly faces” and a simply above-average quarterback who wasn’t quite on his brother’s level — rather than a possible Hall of Famer — if not for the fact that Brady had two shots at him in the Super Bowl and got dunked on both times.
There still were three more Super Bowl wins for Brady, for which he can thank Pete Carroll being a dummy and not giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch, the Atlanta Falcons for the most Atlanta Falcons performance ever, and, finally, his teammates for carrying the load in a game in which he had a 71.4 rating and didn’t throw a touchdown pass against a Rams team that barely showed up.
Oh, and Brady lost another Super Bowl, to the Eagles, who until that point had been football’s unlovable losers for more than half a century. Whose quarterback caught a huge touchdown pass. Unlike Brady, who alligator-armed his way into infamy.
The Patriots should be fine without a quarterback who doesn’t need his wife to trash his wide receivers, and who doesn’t need to cheat so badly that it winds up being its own Encyclopedia Britannica section on deflating balls.
Brady lost as many games to the Dolphins as Bledsoe did, and fewer than only the pedestrian Joe Ferguson — and those two quarterbacks played during eras when Miami was actually good.
Maybe now that he’s gone, the Patriots can get someone who isn’t the NFL’s quack science version of Gwyneth Paltrow.