Decades of excellence: Tom Brady named to All-Decade team before leaving Patriots


Muthu Panchanatham

A Tom Brady jersey, along with a football and receiver gloves. As a result of Brady’s move from the Patriots to the Buccaneers, there are many different predictions regarding how this transition will affect both teams.

by Muthu Panchanatham, Sports Reporter

There wasn’t much point in watching further. Down 28-3 to the Atlanta Falcons in what appeared to be a disappointing Super Bowl LI, I turned off the TV with a sigh and gathered my friends to play basketball in my backyard. Not my finest moment as a New England Patriots fan, I’ll admit. But when I finally checked the score with five minutes left on the clock, I raced back inside to put the game back on, astounded to see that the teams were almost even at 28-20. My Patriots had found their stride and were poised to strip the Lombardi trophy from the complacent Falcons. 

Immediately forgetting my earlier dismay, I watched the game with a renewed passion, screaming taunts at the other team and letting out cries of relief when a first down was gained. There’s something electrifying about watching a 40-year-old man rip a defense to shreds, methodically slinging passes into their secondary while they can’t do anything but watch. Memories of him orchestrating the scoring drives that completed the largest comeback in Super Bowl history still remain fresh in my head today. In that history-defying game, Tom Brady proved to the world that age was just a number and that he wouldn’t stop for anybody.

Brady, the quarterback of the New England Patriots for the past 20 years and the newly acquired quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, epitomizes timelessness. Drafted as the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft, his career was expected to consist of warming the bench for first overall pick Drew Bledsoe. Critics, fans and players alike dismissed him. His throws were nothing special and his speed was laughable (his 40 yard dash time of 5.28 seconds was slower than the times of many linemen who weigh over 300 pounds). Physically, he resembled a giraffe, but in his heart, overlooked by all, resided a lion. 

Throughout Brady’s career, people have doubted him, underestimating him because he was the 199th pick or diminishing his success because it was under Belichick. Instead of blocking out the criticism, he embraces it, turning it into fuel that feeds his drive.”

When Bledsoe suffered a serious injury during the 2001 season, Brady hit the ground running and never looked back. He countered his physical weaknesses with a stellar work ethic and acute awareness in the pocket. He led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl victory, a precursor to five more championships. To put that in perspective, he has the same amount of Super Bowl rings as the entire Pittsburgh Steelers franchise, the team that ties the Patriots for the most Super Bowl victories in the NFL.

Brady developed into one of the best passers of all time, accumulating almost 75,000 yards, 541 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 63.8. These stats only account for his regular season accolades, but he has also won 30 of 40 playoff games, surpassing San Francisco 49ers’ Joe Montana by 14 wins. Take that bandwagon 49er fans. I’ve been watching Brady and the Patriots obliterate opposing teams since the second grade. 

Despite his Hall of Fame worthy achievements, some critics believe that the Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, is the cause of Brady’s success. There is no question that Belichick is one of the greatest coaches of all time, but I don’t think that should take away from Brady’s accomplishments. In fact, I believe Brady was crucial to Belichick’s success as a coach.

Belichick coached the Cleveland Browns from 1991 to 1995, and in that time the team’s overall record was 36-44. The Browns only recorded one winning season under Belichick. After a brief stint with the New York Jets, Belichick joined the Patriots in 2000, prepared to work with Bledsoe. The Bledsoe-Belichick dynamic only lasted one full season, resulting in an underwhelming 5-11 record. But with Brady as his starting quarterback, Belichick and the Patriots were 219-64. Through a combination of mutual respect and the ability to call each other out on their mistakes, the duo’s dynamic allowed the team to fire on cylinders, as long as everyone did their job. Suffice to say, Brady and Belichick were able to make their partnership work.

And although Belichick was an integral piece of the Patriots run, it was Brady’s resilience on the field that inspired his teammates to work harder and play better. In many Mic’d Up clips where his in-game conversations are recorded through a microphone, Brady can be heard constantly advising his teammates to believe in themselves and insisting that the game is not over. 

Not only is he a leader, but he completes the difficult throws and makes the right decisions in tough situations. Many times this season, I observed him throw the ball away to avoid a sack or complete the pass on the next down. In these instances, many jeered that he was inaccurate, when in reality, he utilized his 20 years of experience to make the intelligent play. While Belichick creates the game plans and gives Brady the weapons he needs, Brady is the one on the battlefield, taking the hits and executing with efficiency. 

In the end, it will soon become clear if Brady and Belichick are only great together or if they can thrive separately.”

It’s clear that both Brady and Belichick are masters in their respective jobs, which allowed the Patriots to enjoy years of pure dominance. The two were recently named to the 2010s All-Decade Team, a full team consisting of the best players of each position throughout the decade. Furthermore, they were also recognized in the 2000s All-Decade Team, demonstrating their consistency in being the best. 

In the end, it will soon become clear if Brady and Belichick are only great together or if they can thrive separately. Belichick must restructure the Patriots offense with a new (yet to be determined) quarterback. Brady, on the other hand, can start afresh with a talented team.

Last season, Brady faltered in his merit, partially due to a lack of talent in his wide receivers. Now, as a part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he will be throwing to two Pro-Bowl level receivers in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Furthermore, he just regained his old friend and Hall of Fame worthy tight end Rob Gronkowski, who retired right after the Patriots’ sixth Super Bowl win. If the Patriots were able to go 12-4 with rookies and one decent (but short) player as receivers, then I think Brady will be able to lead the Buccaneers to another Super Bowl with this insane arsenal of weapons. 

It’s only fitting that in the next season, the greatest of all time might be able to turn a franchise around, attain the title of having more rings than every other team in the NFL and prove to everyone that he is the best with or without Belichick. It might be too much to hope for, but a Buccaneers versus Patriots Super Bowl would be one for the ages. If that were to happen, I would make sure to glue myself to the couch and watch Brady’s greatness unfold the entire game.

It’s not every year that a twenty-year veteran and face of a franchise decides to leave, but that’s Tom Brady. He’s never satisfied with his accomplishments and always strives for more. Throughout Brady’s career, people have doubted him, underestimating him because he was the 199th pick or diminishing his success because it was under Belichick. Instead of blocking out the criticism, he embraces it, turning it into fuel that feeds his drive. Even now, critics say he’s washed up and that he should have retired on his sixth championship. The truth is, he’s not done till he says he’s done. Here’s to (hopefully) another decade of excellence.