Super Bowl LII Player Profile: Tom Brady

Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.-has any football player in modern times evoked such a passionate response from both friends and foes alike? It's doubtful. Now, I count myself as a legitimate hater of everything that Brady and Belichick stand for. Spygate, Deflategate and just the concept that the Patriots represent everything that some people, myself included, detest about America: this win-at-all-costs attitude no matter how flagrantly one tosses aside one's morals along the way. At the end of the day this isn't life or death, it's a ball moving down the field. I don't actually hate Brady. If I met him in person, I would be civil. Brady will be the most watched player in the run-up to February 4th. And if he takes home his sixth ring, even I'll have to admit there is not a lick of doubt that he is the GOAT.

Brady was drafted out of the University of Michigan and in the past 15 years as a starter, Brady has led his squad to a stunning eight Super Bowl appearances (including 2018). He is one of only two players in NFL history with five rings (the other being defensive player Charles Haley). Brady has never had a losing season as a starter, has a career post-season record of 27-9 and has the most combined regular season and postseason wins of any QB in history. But these are just the numbers. They don't tell the full story and the reasons why Brady engenders such fierce loyalty and loathing. For me, what I can appreciate about Brady is his competitiveness and the fact that he is clearly one of the most dedicated athletes in all of pro sports. To perform as Brady does in his forties…you've got to respect that. But what I detest is all the hype. And, to be fair, this isn't necessarily the fault of Brady. The New England QB has had the unparalleled benefit of the greatest coach in NFL history. He spent his first three Super Bowl wins as a game manager and coasting on the backs of some of the most epic NFL defenses in history. Did you know that Brady threw for only 145 yards in his second Super Bowl? And they still gave him the MVP! A win is a win but these facts do come into play if you want to be called the undisputed GOAT.

This season has witnessed some cracks in the love triangle of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Belichick & Brady. ESPN dropped a bombshell report that Belichick was purportedly furious that he had to trade away Jimmy Garappolo for peanuts. Given how Jimmy G has performed thus far, that fury appears warranted. Belichick, ever the planner, has got to be concerned about the future. Even given Brady's seemingly ageless fitness levels, how many seasons could he have left. Does even Brady really believe he'll be playing in five or even three years? To add injury to insult, Brady spent most of the past week answering questions about his collision in practice that led to stitches on the back of his hand. The Pats almost (almost!) looked vulnerable. And Jacksonville came flying out the gate, on their way to Minneapolis and…reality came crashing down upon all of us. This was the Patriots in Foxborough in January in the fourth quarter. Why even get your hopes up?

He's taken down Mariota, Bortles and now only Foles stands in his way. Do the ends justify the means for the Pats? I don't think Brady could care less.