The Brady Legacy

By Ryan Whitfield

Twitter: @RyanWhitfieldNE

When posing the Tom vs. Time question, Brady has already won.

We all know the #199, 6th Round, 4th string story. To me the more remarkable thing was Brady forcing Kraft and Belichick’s hand by winning the way he did 2001. Remember they had just given Drew Bledsoe over $100 million – 10 year deal. He was the franchise, however overrated he was. But, there was no way they could sit Brady at this point. While Brady threw for under 3,000 yards in 15 games in 2001, had a Rating of 86.5, and a TD-INT that was pedestrian, if not bad, with 18-12, I’d venture to say that skill wise, Bledsoe was still probably the better player. But from day one, Brady was a winner, and that was the difference. Against the Rams in the Super Bowl, Brady posted an 86.2% rating and was sub 60% completion wise. But in the final two minutes, he was nails. Bledsoe routinely underperformed and lost with the group of guys who were the foundation of the dynasty.  Brady was the clear choice.

Brady carried the “game manager” tag for the first several years of his career. From a National perspective, I think 2007 is the year where that changed. For us locally, it was 2006. While Brady only posted an 87.9 rating that year, with 3,500 yards, 24 TD’s and 12 INT, and he did this throwing to the likes of Doug Gabriel and Rasheed Caldwell. The Patriots defense was aging, a flaw that turned out to be fatal in ’07, and the departure of Givens and Branch, put the fate of the team square on Brady’s shoulders. He carried and dragged this team to within 4 points of another Super Bowl appearance. And, I think it’s safe to say they would’ve handily beat the Rex Grossman led Bears.

When we look back on Brady’s immaculate run it’s easy to latch on to the 01, 03, 04, 07, 14,& 16 teams, and you can add 17 if they pull it off. But, when I get into debates, not as much anymore, about if Brady’s the greatest, the rebuttal is often rings are a team accomplishment. That’s why a year like 2006 is so special to his legacy. He shows you the truly elite, sometimes have to put the team on their back and carry them.

The other two years that come to mind are 2011 and 2013. In 2011 Brady carried an abysmal defense (See Sterling More and Chad Johnson), and limited offensive weapons. Sure the emergence of Gronkowski and Hernandez helped, but they were still young and Brady was the only reason they made Super Bowl 46. In 2013 He took the field in the AFC Championship with Matthew Slater, Matthew Mulligan, and Austin Collie. Decimated by injuries, and a weak offseason, Brady once again dragged a bad team (By Patriots standards) to the AFC Championship.

At this point, we all know the accomplishments, and accolades. But what gets lost are the moments where Brady had to prove that even in a team sport, an Elite QB makes the difference. It is the basis for my anti Manning and Rodgers argument, and the foundation of the argument that proves Brady makes the Patriots win, not the other way around. This years team is easily worse than any that have won them a title. If Brady wins on Sunday, it’s just another notch in his belt of greatness.

@RyanWHitfieldNE

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