The Career of Tom Brady


Alexander Jonesi 2018

Image posted to Flickr by Alexander Jonesi

Alessandro De Stefano

Tom Brady, who is regarded as greatest football player of all time, is retiring, leaving behind an incredible legacy that will certainly never be matched.

On April 16th, 2001, Thomas Edward Patrick Brady was drafted 199th overall in the NFL draft to the New England Patriots. Brady was the starting quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines and had a quite accomplished career there as he led them to a bowl game win in his senior season. Brady’s pre-draft measurables were underwhelming. He was a lanky kid who ran a five second 40-yard dash, so he fell all the way to the 199th pick in the sixth round. 

His rookie season was entirely warming the bench for the Patriots star quarterback Drew Bledsoe, but under Bledsoe, he gained a heap of valuable knowledge of reading defenses and picking apart coverages. His sophomore year was destined to be another season of bench riding, but September 23rd, 2001 changed everything. Drew Bledsoe rolled out of the pocket for a routine scramble. Jets linebacker Mo Lewis hit him so hard that he rose from the ground after the tackle in a daze. Bledsoe was immediately taken out of the game for a simple concussion, and Brady was put in to prove himself. He played lackluster, failing to drive the Patriots down the field to score. Drew Bledsoe’s injury was much more serious than initially expected. He was suffering internal bleeding and was out indefinitely, but in Brady’s time as the starter, he shined bright like a diamond. 

The Patriots went 11-3 during his starts and earned a first-round bye during the playoffs. His first postseason start ever was in the divisional round against the raiders, a tuck rule and field goal gave New England a berth into the AFC championship. Brady injured his ankle in the game and could not play for the Patriots in the next game, so Bledsoe started the game and put up a valiant effort to push the Patriots to their first Super Bowl since 1996. Tom Brady was back for the Super Bowl, a defining game for the young man’s career was coming. Brady and his crew got off to a blistering start, shocking the 14 point favorite St Louis Rams by going up 11 in the second quarter. The Rams then responded with their own 14 point quarter, tying up the game with 1:30 left in the fourth. The Patriots received the ball back with about 40 seconds on the clock, and color commentator John Madden said that they should “play for overtime”. Tom Brady led the team down the field, completing pass after pass until the team advanced to the Rams’ 30-yard line. This set up Adam Vinatieri for the kick to win the Super Bowl. The ball sailed through the uprights, leaving zero seconds on the clock, making the Patriots world champions for the first time in history. 

Brady followed up his Super Bowl MVP performance with a lackluster 2002 season, failing to make the playoffs for the first and last time in his partnership with Bill Belichick. His 2003 season was a bounce back one, for he and the Patriots went 14-2 with Brady having a Pro Bowl season. In the AFC championship, Brady faced the man who would become his greatest rival for the first time in the playoffs. Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts faced the Patriots in what was supposed to be a heavyweight bout. Manning played a stinker and threw three interceptions, while Brady played formidably in a 24-14 victory to send New England to the Super Bowl again. This time, they were matched up with the Carolina Panthers, an underdog team who won games with their scrappy ways. It was a back and forth game until Brady drove his team down the field yet again in the dying minutes of the fourth to set up Adam Viniateri for a game winning field goal with zero second left on the clock. Brady collected his second Super Bowl MVP with his 354 yards and three touchdowns. 

In 2004, Brady yet again made a Pro Bowl and led the team to a 14-2 record. The Patriots beat the Colts in the divisional round and the Steelers in the AFC championship. The Philadelphia Eagles came next in the Super Bowl, New England’s third in the past four years. The Eagles were a super team, sporting the NFL’s best wide receiver and defense, highlighted by a top five quarterback. The game was a fun back and forth: every time the Eagles scored, the Patriots scored too. But in the fourth quarter, the Patriots pulled away with a 10 point lead, and the Eagles came within three points but failed to complete the comeback after Philadelphia’s quarterback, Donovan McNabb, threw a game-ending interception. This time, Brady failed to win Super Bowl MVP, the award went to wide receiver Deion Branch instead.

Brady’s 2005 and 2006 seasons were mediocre for the dynasty, they suffered two early playoff exits in a row as Brady was practically playing teams by himself because of his lack of offensive weapons. The Patriots sought to change this in 2007, a year that would be one for the ages. 

Randy Moss was a pure superstar, a man with a personality that matched his superhuman abilities on the field. Moss was experiencing a drought in production with the Oakland Raiders, and the team looked to move him and his contract in any way possible. The Patriots pounced on this opportunity, trading their 2007 fourth round pick for Moss, a deal that would go down as the greatest trade fleece in NFL history. The Patriots skipped their usual slow starts by beating their first four opponents by a combined 148-48. They then went on a scoring run for the ages, with the Patriots scoring 149 points in their sixth, seventh, and eighth games combined, which pushed them to 8-0. Randy Moss and Brady proceeded to keep their pace through the last game of the regular season. Against the New York Giants, Brady and Moss connected for a record-breaking pass, Brady got his 50th touchdown pass of the season, and Moss got his 23rd receiving touchdown of the year- both shattering the former single season records. The Patriots went into the playoffs as the clear-cut favorites to win the title stomping over the Jaguars and Chargers to get into the Super Bowl. They were there to face the New York Giants: it was a miracle they got that far, and the Patriots were destined to stomp their hopes out. In the spirit of not tainting Tom Brady’s legacy, I will be brief- the Patriots lost. On the loss, Brady said, “Maybe the desire to reach that point, maybe I would have been fulfilled, not to stop playing at that time, but I don’t know, maybe I play another seven or eight years, and I’m fulfilled… And when things don’t go your way, appreciate the other people who it goes good for, and then try your hardest to get back there again. And I knew that if I ever won a Super Bowl again, I was going to celebrate the [expletive] out of that one.”

The 2008 season ended in the first game for Tom Brady after Kansas City Chiefs player Bernard Pollard dove onto his knees, shredding his ACL. The next five seasons were the worst of Brady’s career win rate wise, but his individual performance was great as always with four Pro Bowls and an MVP award.

New England were underdogs heading into the 2014-15 season, as it had been a decade since their last Super Bowl win. The regular season was the same old thing: the Patriots went 12-4 to become the first seed in the AFC, and Brady was great while making another Pro Bowl. In the divisional round, Brady played incredibly against the stingy Ravens’ defense, throwing for four touchdowns in a comeback win to advance to the AFC championship. The AFC championship was a breeze, and the Patriots made the Super Bowl for the sixth time in the last 13 years. The Seattle Seahawks were the opponents, sporting one of the best defenses of all time while their offense was led by a quick gun slinging quarterback named Russell Wilson. The game was a competitive effort, but the Patriots went into the fourth quarter down by ten points. Tom Brady whittled down this lead in two drives with passing touchdowns to wide receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. The Seahawks responded with a long offensive drive to put them at the one-yard line with 24 seconds on the clock. Russell Wilson threw an interception to Patriots’ cornerback Malcolm Butler to give New England a Super Bowl victory, creating the biggest miracle in NFL history. Tom Brady won the Super Bowl MVP for his four touchdown passes.

After a mediocre 2015–16 season, the Patriots were looking to make history yet again. Per usual, the Patriots dominated the regular season, going 14-2 with Brady making a 12th Pro Bowl. The AFC playoffs were smooth sailing with 2 blowout wins. The opponents in the Super Bowl were set to be the Atlanta Falcons, a team that sported the best offense in football that was quarterbacked by league MVP Matt Ryan. The game was dominated by the Falcons in the first 3 quarters, with their largest lead being 28-3. Tom Brady and the Patriots proceeded to walk down the lead possession by possession, somehow managing to tie it up at 28-28 by the end of regulation. The Patriots won the coin toss in overtime, scoring a  touchdown yet again and cementing the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. Brady won his fourth Super Bowl MVP that year as he threw for 466 yards and two touchdowns.

The next year in 2017-18, Brady and the Patriots made the Super Bowl again where they lost to the Eagles despite Brady having one of the best statistical Super Bowls ever with 505 yards and three touchdowns. 

The 2018-19 season would mark the last year of true dominance in the Patriots’ dynasty with their aging core. New England squeaked into the playoffs with an 11-5 record, while Brady made his 14th and last Pro Bowl as a Patriot. For once, the AFC playoffs were not a breeze, as the Patriots beat the Chargers in a tough battle to move onto the AFC championship. In the AFC Championship, the Chiefs with their flamethrower quarterback Patrick Mahomes met New England in a duel for the ages. The game went to overtime, with the Patriots taking the win to head to the Super Bowl. In the Super Bowl the Patriots would face the Los Angeles Rams who had a mediocre offense paired with a league best defense. The game was a snooze fest with the Patriots winning and Julian Edelman taking home the Super Bowl MVP.

The next season was an awful one- the Patriots were unable to get a bye week and got knocked out in the wildcard round. That off season, Brady was a free agent for the first time ever and wanted to try a new experience that would really cement his legacy. Brady went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a franchise that is known for perennially losing.

The 2020-21 season was hampered by Covid, but that did not stop the Buccaneers. They went 11-5 to have their first winning record in a long time. The Buccaneers breezed through the Commanders, Saints, and Packers to get to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2002-03. They faced a Kansas City Chiefs team that was hampered by injuries, especially to their offensive line. The Buccaneers easily handled them with a 31-9 scoreline, Brady won his record 5th and final Super Bowl MVP and his seventh Super Bowl, which gave him more championships than any franchise in the NFL. 

The next season was uneventful and underwhelming, Brady played like a 44-year-old man as he lost in the divisional round that year. Brady retired at the end of the year, but it only stayed that way for a month before he decided to return for another season. That season was awful: the Buccaneers had a losing record and Brady played terribly. Finally, at the end of that season, Brady put out a video on social media stating that, “I’m retiring. For good.” Thus, the greatest career in Football history came to an end after 23 years.