Eye to eye, father time is staring down 39 year old Thomas Edward Brady. The only undefeated component for those who make a living in professional sport. Every athlete faces it, some sooner than others. The day when he or she knows they can no longer reach the greatest heights of competition and ability God had blessed them with for a career. It’s a spiritual gut check moment that haunts everyone who’s ever competed for anything in any sport. I would appreciate that stare down, it must be one for the ages, maybe the one for all ages, past present and future.
As people we wake up every morning competing with ourselves in the daily grind, to be the best we can be, no matter what it is we do. Athletes give us something to aspire to be in our everyday life. We see certain athletes strive for what we consider perfection, the mountain top of success. A place we believe exists but seems so far away we might as well be standing at the bottom of Mount Everest looking straight up at the mountain top thinking, “I’d love to see the view from up there”, while not really understanding what it would take to make it that far.
We all just want to be inspired, we want to reach a certain serenity of peace within, that gives a sense of accomplishment. Fulfillment in life, that we have done our best and allow for reflection. Which leads me to last Sunday night in Houston, on the grandest stage in all of sports. The pinnacle of competition in North America. The Super Bowl, the place where legends for all time are made and stories of their greatness gets told for generations.
At 39, Brady remains the best in the NFL. (USA TODAY Images)
Down 28-3 with 8 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter against one of the top 10 offenses in modern football history, Tom Brady, father times greatest adversary at the age of 39 took the ball at the Patriots 25 yard line and stared back at the undefeated champion and essentially said “not tonight, I own this stage and it will be remembered forever”. So, with a win probability that reached a low of 0.04 percent, on a 4th and 3 late in the 3rd, Tom Brady went to work and turned in the most mythical finish the game has ever witnessed in a pressure situation most people would run and hide from, finishing his last 5 drives including the historic OT by going 27-34 for 286 yards and 2 td’s while leading the Patriots to a 31-0 furious scoring rally that still feels surreal.
Make no mistake, there is no comparison to this remarkable comeback. The few high stakes games that enter the conversation would be the Bills in the 1992 Wild Card game over the Houston Oilers, but that comeback took shape out of the gate in the 3rd quarter as the Bills outscored Houston 28-0 that trimmed Houston’s lead to 35-31 as the game moved to the 4th quarter. The Red Sox in 2004 over the Yankees, while they were down 3-0 in the ALCS they got a reset every night to comeback and complete their historic victory. By game 7 everyone knew the Yankees were in trouble. Early in game 7 Johnny Damon’s grand slam shut the door on New York early and left no doubt late.
Just think about this for a moment, the Patriots score a TD to make it 28-9 and then Gostkowski misses the extra point, THEN on the ensuing New England kick-off they were unsuccessful in recovering the onside kick AND they got a 5 yard penalty tacked on to the failed kick by illegally touching the ball before it traveled 10 yards. Account for every obstacle they had to overcome and you can draw no other conclusion: This was the greatest comeback in sports history. Just the magnitude of the game coupled with the pressure and time element says so. To watch that unfold, as someone who loves sport, I feel honored it happened in my lifetime.
To be inspired, Webster says it’s to fill a person with a suddenness to do something fulfilling. To create a positive feeling in someone and give them the urge to be great. History will look at Tom Brady whether it be in words or film and show greatness, inspired greatness, the ability to overcome any obstacle, no matter how dire the circumstance may be.
As a kid growing up my father told me about Bobby Orr. I’ve seen the films, listened to the interviews with other legends describing his greatness. I grew up watching Larry Bird and felt the same things I was told about Orr. I’ve passed those stories down to my son, who is watching Tom Brady at the age in which I saw Bird, I tell him everyday how lucky he is that back in the 1950’s his father’s aunt sought out a better life from war torn West Germany and settled in Boston Massachusetts. She would write home about how great it was, then in the early 1960’s my father followed. Lucky and blessed, to be a proud Bostonian, I couldn’t imagine being from anywhere else. The Greatest Sports Town in America.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2016 Patriots season Super Bowl LI Tom Brady