What you’re about to read is a 500-word essay penned after a night out on the town by a close friend and Patriots fan. The conceit regards his lord and savior, Tom Brady. I received it at 6:14 AM — 3:14 AM his time — and it’s one of the loopiest, funniest and sincerest things I’ve ever read. This is why I love sports.
I’ve been inspired to rewatch the SBXXVIa video. First off, I feel old. My god, look at Brady. Look at belichick. JR Redmond? Who is that? Vrabel still plays for the Pats? This is weird. The offenses are strange and seemingly simplistic. High schools are running the same plays Kurt Warner made famous.b
Here comes the second year QB, 90 seconds left. Even the helmets are weird, Brady looks like a Neanderthal. But you can still see his eyes. Everyone talks about how cool he was during that drive. He’s not even mentioned at the X-Factor. “They’ve got a great kicker.”c
Watch closely. He’s shitting his pants. Two years removed from the Big 10 and now he’s on football’s biggest stage. Of course he’s scared! He’s playing exactly like a second year QB would, taking the safe passes.d He checks down three times in a row. he throws one away, barely outside the tackle box. He makes one amazing downfield pass. He’s aware of the clock, probably the biggest thing that sets him apart from other quarterbacks of his experience. What other first-time starter has the guys to run up and spike it, knowing full well he’s wasting a down?
Brady engineered that drive, no doubt. He set himself on a path to become elite in 80 seconds. He knew he didn’t have to score. Warner needed a TD and got it, but just enough is plenty. Brady just needed enough. He dink and dunked his way to fame before dinking and dunking was the way of the NFL.e He moved the ball like he would with a slot receiver without one.
Brady isn’t a great deep ball passer. When did people begin to think he was?f QBs are supposed to mature into these passing machines that toss great deep balls and make spectacular throws to move the chains 15, 20 yards at a time. Brady was never that. He moves the ball by completing his passes and letting his team do the rest. Screens and checkdowns all day. The reason they won this year? He dinked and dinkedg his way. With randy moss, he become unstoppable in the record books, but couldn’t win a championship. He couldn’t win without a backfield receiver either.h
Brady is immortal.i He’s top three all-time. Maybe the greatest ever. But not of quarterbacks. He’s a game manager.j He knows exactly what needs to be done and when to do it. He won’t complete huge gainers all the time. He’s not the great deep passer some people think he is. He can make those throws when they count and he completes the easy passes because he knows a lot of small gains can lead to a big return. He’s Chad Pennington crossed with Brett Favre.k He makes the most of the small plays and makes the big ones when he needs to.
In a word, he’s clutch. No other player defines it like he does.l
In all seriousness, this is loving sports. It’s a booze-soaked brain translating honest, raw emotion from the heart as best it can.
And even though I’m teasing him, I’ve done this too. I’ve stayed up late watching replays of the 2010 NBA Finals. I’ve mashed up Deion Sanders highlights with Lauryn Hill deep cuts. And yes, I’ve penned my own embarrassingly long and emotionally stilted essays about my favorite football team. And mine were written sober! And were published! By real news outlets!
The thing is, it’s impossible to rationalize being a sports fan. Bethlehem Shoals once said rooting for one team is like an arranged marriage between two sadists. It doesn’t make sense. It hurts. Fans either see their team win the Super Bowl, or see their team’s season end in a loss or without a postseason. Every year.
And every year we go back and watch more history unfold, knowing full well we will revise it when we’re wiser, drunker and more nostalgic.