Death, Taxes, and Tom Brady in the Superbowl

Could Pat Mahomes surpass Tom Brady? Maybe! But no, really, definitely not, no, because Tom Brady is, well, Tom Brady.

Could Pat Mahomes surpass Tom Brady? Maybe! But no, really, definitely not, no, because Tom Brady is, well, Tom Brady. How else do you define his unprecedented success? He owns six Super Bowl rings, 10 conference championships, and 32 postseason wins. There are ways to contextualize those numbers, and all of them involve explaining, again, that Tom Brady is, well, Tom Brady and very good at football. Mahomes is also very good at football, though. He already holds one Super Bowl victory, and some people think he will eclipse Brady as the best quarterback to ever play professionally—he’s only 25 years old. Consequently, the prevailing narrative entering the season’s final game centers around the dreamworthy match-up: the greatest player of all time against the potential greatest player of all time. Brady’s Buccaneers vs. Mahomes’ Chiefs.

That’s great, mouth-watering football content, but…simultaneously boring? The media has already covered the narrative ad nauseum. They’ve excessively exploited Brady’s move from the New England Patriots and their trusty overseer, Darth Lord, and noted non-smiler Bill Belichick, too. Everyone knows the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will become the first National Football League (NFL) team to play the Super Bowl at home.

ason, however, which have gone unnoticed amidst all the prognostication. Strangely, the Cleveland Browns ended the NFL’s longest playoff drought with an emphatic win over the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Browns fans wept—happily, hopefully—and their quarterback, Baker Mayfield, was excellent in a litany of Progressive insurance commercials. The Buffalo Bills erased their drought as well behind the efforts of Josh Allen, who has come a long way. Only a few years ago, he was a kid without any college recruitment offers, not receiving one as a high school senior. As a college freshman, he attended a junior college and sent over a thousand emails to Division 1 coaches. He got one response. Now, he might be the rarest thing in sports: a potential Hall of Fame quarterback. One of his wide receivers, Cole Beasley, endured a playoff game on a broken fibula, displaying preternatural toughness. Most importantly, the NFL made it through a Covid-19-plagued season without missing a game, for which the league deserves praise.

But back to the Super Bowl. 2020 was a strange, strange year, but 2021 appears to be redemptive. In addition to the Browns and the Bills, the Buccaneers also snapped a playoff cold streak. Before earning a spot in 2021’s edition, the Bucs hadn’t seen the postseason in 13 years. Suddenly, they are possibly the NFL’s best team. What’s it all about? Mainly Brady, I think. His teammates are reveling in his leadership. Star linebacker Devin White shared that Brady told him “D, there’s a bigger bowl I’m chasing. We’re all chasing it. C’mon!” when White missed the Pro Bowl. White continued: “It’s a blessing to hear that. I need to hear that…I am just so grateful to be able to spend this time with him.”

Fellow linebacker Lavonte David concurred: “He’s right, he’s right.” Saturday Night Live has taken notice, declaring Brady the only thing in America that “still works.” And Brady, as always, is playing great football at sports’ most important position.

On Sunday, he will walk through the tunnel—43 years old but still kickin’, he’ll have you know—and lead 52 other men onto the field to play in a Super Bowl for the 10th time. Just like normal. Death, Taxes, Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.

I suspect it will end how this thing always ends: Rumbling crowd, anxious lulls…roaring! “He’s past the 10!”…Jim Nantz’s thoroughly American, vaguely southern lilt announcing…“Oh gosh, Tony, how’s he done that”…more roaring!…Finally, a little hush…then…Tom Brady, calm as ever, taking center field to hold his trophy high one more time.

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