Tom Brady: The journey of the undisputed GOAT, and what the future holds for the NFL

Revisiting+Tom+Brady+and+his+accomplisments.

Jia Takayoshi

Revisiting Tom Brady and his accomplisments.

Lucas Quick, Assistant Sports Editor

The era has come to an end. Arguably one of the most, if not the most known football icon, Tom Brady has called it a career after 22 seasons. I’m pretty sure it’s without question he’s the greatest player to ever touch the field, yet also had quite the impossible journey. 

This story is a three-way story: not only will we revisit Brady’s success and overall journey in those 22 years, but also we’ll look at the future for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the whole league as well, and who will be the next guy on the spotlight to be considered the best in the league, especially with a new generation of talented players. 

The journey to success

It’s pretty simple to say that Tom Brady wasn’t expected to be a generational quarterback, as some scouters wrote of Brady as, “lacks great physical stature and strength, can’t drive the ball downfield, and poor build.” So it’s fair enough to say Brady was expected to be a stationary backup at best. 

But whatever it was the New England Patriots saw in Brady, they selected him in the sixth round, 199th overall pick, in the 2000 NFL draft. He was the seventh quarterback to get drafted. Now, we wouldn’t see Tom Brady take the field as the starter until the 2001 season, when the Patriots’ former starting quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, got injured and would most likely miss the rest of the season.

Tom Brady would eventually lead the Patriots to the playoffs, at an 11-5 record. So it was already a huge, successful season, as the sixth rounder led the team to the playoffs, but the Patriots would keep on winning and winning. After winning both the divisional and the conference championship (with the help of the controversial tuck rule), the Patriots would head to the Super Bowl to face Kurt Warner and the Rams, also known as the greatest show on turf during the time. 

Although the Rams would come back after being down in the first half, Adam Vinateri would kick the game-winning field goal, giving Tom Brady and the Patriots their first ever Super Bowl title. And this will be a familiar sight for the next few years, as Brady would lead the Patriots to two more Super Bowls, and would lead them to both wins in 2004, in a victory against the Carolina Panthers, and in 2005, in a win against the Philadelphia Eagles. And just like that, the New England Patriots had not only found their franchise QB but also were suddenly a dynasty.

The next decade would be a dry spell for Super Bowl trophies for Brady, as he fell short twice to the New York Giants, but still had historic seasons during that time, including the 2007 season, which arguably was Tom Brady’s best season he put, as the team went 16-0 in the regular season, and the duo of Tom Brady and Randy Moss was one of the most unstoppable duos the league had ever seen. But with a perfect season, it wasn’t the perfect ending, as Eli Manning and the Giants would pull off one of the greatest playoff upsets in NFL history, taking down the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Brady would also win another MVP back in 2010. 

Now, we head into the 2015 season, and after a decade since the last Super Bowl trophy landed in Foxboro, the Patriots would head back to Arizona to play the star-studded Seahawks. And with a game with a lot of questioning, as the talk of the infamous “deflate gate” was being spewed after the AFC championship where there was a notice of seeing deflated footballs during the game. But setting that all aside, it was arguably the best Super Bowl I’ve ever seen out of all the Brady Super Bowls I watched when I was actually alive, as the game was back and forth, and the Patriots were down by 10 heading to the fourth, Brady and the Patriots rallied back, including the iconic Malcolm Butler interception, to give Brady a 28-24 win, with a fourth ring added to the collection. 

The deflate gate would become a more looked-at issue, as Tom Brady would be suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season, which was a fair decision, it wasn’t a good idea for the G.O.A.T. to have a fire ignite in him, and the Patriots yet again are in the Super Bowl, against the Atlanta Falcons. 

Without question this was Brady’s most iconic and most impressive Super Bowl win, as of course, the Patriots found themselves down 28-3, which felt like a clinic late in the third quarter. But somehow, not only Brady, but the defense, James White, who had one of the best Super Bowl performances ever by a running back in my opinion, and obviously the improbable catch Julian Edelman made, and the Patriots somehow did the impossible and won 34-28 in overtime in one of the all time great Super Bowls. 

And for one last time, in 2019, Brady would win his final Super Bowl with the Patriots, in a game that was the total opposite of Brady’s last three Super Bowls, including the loss he had against the Eagles in 2018. The game was more of a defensive game and wasn’t Brady’s best performance in a Super Bowl, but he would pull off a 13-3 win over the Rams, making it his sixth ring, and the Patriots second dynasty was born. 

After the 2020 season, with a rare first round exit for the Patriots, as the Titans would knock them out, the Brady era in New England would come to an end. The G.O.A.T. would try to keep his resume on point with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were the opposite of a successful franchise for over a decade. 

This was a much different environment for Tom Brady, as we genuinely saw him open up as a normal human being, including with the reunion of his teammate, Rob Gronkowski, also joining forces with him. It is simple enough to say that “Tampa Tom” was the best kind of Tom Brady in all of his years. 

His journey to bringing a Super Bowl home to the Buccaneers was much different than his other seasons. Yes, the team was still successful and was an amazing roster Brady had with him, but it was more of the fact of Brady adjusting to having a whole different team, which was something he hasn’t really been put in, except when he tore his ACL in 2008, adjusting to a team who changed after a year. The Buccaneers had some struggles, including being swept by their division rival in the New Orleans Saints; despite this, the Bucs would still finish 11-5, clinching the first wild card spot in the NFC, the first time in Brady’s career where he was in a team who hadn’t made the playoffs by winning the division. 

Brady would arguably have his hardest road to the Super Bowl, as he had to knock off both Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers just before making it to the big stage. But the Buccaneers pulled off the unexpected, as yet again, Tom Brady would still be in the Super Bowl. In what was a highly anticipated matchup against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, the Buccaneers would just dominate the game, with the help of the defense shutting down Mahomes like no other defense has been able to do. Brady would win 31-9, getting his seventh and final ring. 

What a journey it was: it’s nearly impossible to make it brief, especially for someone who won seven Super Bowls, three MVP awards, five Super Bowl MVPs, the all time leader in passing yards and so many more accomplishments. It was the greatest journey by arguably any player, from someone being taken 199th, to being the greatest player of all time. Love him or hate him, he will be the undisputed G.O.A.T., and it’ll be hard to beat it in the future.

Will Tampa tumble without Tom?

It’s safe to say that Brady was the missing piece in that Buccaneers team, as they already had a young and talented roster, and all they needed was a stable quarterback to become a successful franchise. The question is what tactic will Bruce Arians and the Bucs look at: drafting or sticking with a young quarterback, do they have a second year quarterback in Kyle Trask, who they took in the second round last season, or do they pursue in a trade or picking someone up during the free agency? 

Either direction the team heads won’t be too shocking, as there had to be some reason that the Bucs took Kyle Trask in the second round in the draft last year, so it might’ve possibly been on purpose, and they knew Brady would call off his career soon. But if the Buccaneers want to still be a playoff team, I’m not sure if it’s the right direction to head, it’s a huge risk to take and it could go either way. 

Now for free agency this season, there aren’t a whole lot of names for the quarterback, other than Jimmy Garopollo and Aaron Rodgers, but I doubt that the Bucs will pursue Rodgers. But processing a trade with the Niners in acquiring Jimmy Garopollo isn’t a bad idea, as although it doesn’t show off his talent, statistically, Jimmy has had very good success in the last couple of years, including a trip to the Super Bowl, and was a great leader for the Niners. 

Although the pass offense won’t be as great as it has been the last couple of seasons, Garopollo might be the best option for the Buccaneers, only willing if they want to pay that heavy load of money Jimmy is getting right now, but this is the perfect destination for both teams. Now, does this mean the Buccaneers will still be a top team to be a Super Bowl contender? Not exactly, but this can definitely keep the Buccaneers in having success for a few more seasons. 

It’s also a good acquisition as well, because the thought of losing either Mike Evans or Chris Godwin in the future won’t be as complicated, especially with the passing offense not being as big of a threat, and it seems nearly impossible in having both guys having large contracts in the future. But it does get rid of some weight off their shoulders, as now the ball should land in Leonard Fournette’s hands more, and the Bucs still have a very strong offensive line, arguably top five, this all can lead to good success for the team in the future.

Last but not least, who’s next?

The NFL (and my childhood) is losing a large amount of the veteran quarterbacks, as Aaron Rodgers now seems to be the last guy standing, but the NFL has a generational talent of young quarterbacks, many with already success, and others waiting for it to happen. Now we won’t have a G.O.A.T. forever, but there’s still a lot of guys who can be the best in the league. 

For a lot of people, this shouldn’t be without a question, and at the moment it is pretty clear who would most likely be the face of the NFL off quarterbacks, and it’s Patrick Mahomes. With a talented and young quarterback with already huge success under his belt, it’s no doubt that the Chiefs seem to be the next coming dynasty, and we already are witnessing it, but I don’t want to leave out other young guys who can also hold a big part of the spotlight.

Looking at who’s next, it’s Patrick Mahomes’ future rival, Josh Allen. This kid brings a lot to the floor, has the best arm in the league right now and has been such a great leader to a Bills team who were in a long drought of specifically making the playoffs. I really think Allen will win multiple MVPs in the coming years and should already be recognized as a top five quarterback. There’s only one thing he has to get done which he hasn’t yet, which is to beat the Chiefs in the playoffs.

You also have Lamar Jackson, who’s been the best mobile quarterback we’ve seen since Michael Vick, Mac Jones, who had a great rookie campaign with the Patriots, and Justin Herbert, who has shown what a talented quarterback he is ever since he first went on the field, as well as Kyler Murray, who’s had a nice two seasons and can be a threat as well. 

There also is Joe Burrow, a guy who might show the most competitiveness and grit out of all these quarterbacks in the league, and has taken the NFL by storm this season, and can definitely be the face of the NFL. He has been one of the only guys to manage to beat Mahomes consistently, and there can be matchups we’ll see for the times coming. Seeing the leap he’s taken this season, there’s no question he’ll be one of the greats in the coming years.

Last but not least, there are the future second year players, and obviously the rookies that’ll come to the league in the future, but guys like Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance, all have the future await them. Next year will be the year we’ll most likely see who will take the biggest leap in their sophomore season, but there shouldn’t be a question that one of these guys will be a reliable guy in the future. 

But for whatever lies and comes in the league for the future, it’s safe to say that the league is in good hands, and we can’t take away the possibility of Brady coming back for a second time? Either way, Brady has made a massive impact and change on the league and is definitely a name that’ll never be forgotten. There’s a lot of pressure for a lot of franchises to fight for the Lombardi trophy now, without Brady being able to run one of the conferences. But it’s crazy to say this is the birth of a new era for the NFL, and it’s anyone’s game.