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The Greatest Gets Greater

A few days ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers soundly defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, denying them their second Super Bowl title in a row. You need to go back close to two decades to find the last repeat champion. It was New England, back when they had a young upstart quarterback named Tom Brady.

Now, that young signal-caller has become a seven-time Super Bowl Champion. He seems to be collecting rings as obsessively as Thanos trying to locate the Infinity Stones. The Super Bowl wasn’t competitive: the Bucs demolished the Chiefs, with the final score, 31-9, leaving the game’s outcome never in doubt once the first three quarters had concluded.

Getting back to Brady, though, many considered him the GOAT, the Greatest of All Time, before the game even started. This begs the question, now that he has collected his seventh ring, what has Brady become?

The Boat Parade

After the Super Bowl victory, Tampa had a boat parade, their version of the traditional ticker-tape parade when a sports team wins a championship. The Bucs’ players were on several slow-moving boats, and Brady was among the teammates who had the Lombardi trophy in his possession.

It seems as though Brady was enjoying a few adult beverages. He decided at one point to throw the Lombardi trophy from one boat to another. Luckily, one of his teammates had the necessary soft hands to catch it.

Anyone who saw Brady stagger off the boat, supported by another teammate, might have thought it was worth getting a car accident lawyer and having them on standby if number 12 decided to drive. Brady didn’t get behind the wheel, though he did tweet that he had enjoyed a little “avocado tequila.”

The Patriot Way

The woman whose father designed the Lombardi trophy wants Brady to apologize for hurtling it from boat to boat. Perhaps he’ll say he’s sorry, or maybe he won’t, but his behavior after this latest Super Bowl win is significant.

Brady won in New England, more than any quarterback has won anywhere. He collected his first six rings there, along with head coach Bill Belichick, the sour-faced fixture on the Pats’ sideline with the hoodie raised and his sleeves cut off. Brady and Belichick became iconic together.

After Brady left, there was the question of who came up with and exemplified the “Patriot Way.” This was the Pats’ way of doing things that made them so successful for two decades.

Now, it seems we have answered that question. Brady left, and he carried a resoundingly mediocre Buccaneers team to their second Super Bowl title in team history. He did that in a single year.

The Patriots, meanwhile, have floundered since his departure. They finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs entirely. Belichick had to watch Brady win without him and add to his legacy. He also saw the castoff tight end, Rob Gronkowski, another former Patriot, pick up another ring as well.

Why Does All This Matter?

Why does all of this matter? Well, it doesn’t, unless you want to talk about who the greatest of all time is, and many sports pundits do. That’s essentially why the ESPN network exists, along with dozens of others.

Analyzing sports can be just as much fun as watching them, and what people saw who tuned in for that boat parade was a Tom Brady both like and unlike what they had seen before. In a sense, he’s the same guy because he’s doing what he does, winning championships and humiliating the competition in the process.

In a way, he’s a different person entirely. The Brady everyone saw on that boat, casually tossing the Lombardi trophy around, looked, dare we say, happy. Yes, he sometimes smiled in New England, but he seemed restrained even as he did so.

It was because he knew the ever-watchful Belichick wanted him to epitomize the Patriot Way. That meant winning, but it also meant a staunch conservatism in looks, actions, and even facial expressions.

Tom Brady is 43 years old, and when he comes back for another season, he’ll be 44. That’s not an age when any quarterback should succeed, but Brady isn’t like anyone else.

He has proven that he has outgrown the Patriot Way. He no longer needs it, and he seems able to play looser than ever before, yet still just as effectively. Defying all logic, the GOAT is now even greater, and as long as he wants to keep playing, you’d be a fool to ever bet against him.