Tom Brady played in nine Super Bowls with the Patriots and won six of them. That was more than enough to make him NFL’s greatest quarterback of all time when he left them a year ago.
So what does earning a seventh ring in his 10 career Super Bowl trips mean? Given he did it while leading a new team, the Buccaneers, at age 43 and by thoroughly outplaying Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes in the end, it means everything.
Brady, with Tampa Bay’s 31-9 rout of Kansas City in Super Bowl 55 on Sunday night, has been the winning QB in 13 percent of all Super Bowls. He can now claim more titles in his sport than the modern gold standard, Michael Jordan, had in the NBA.It was arguable that Brady became the individual modern GOAT of all American team sports after engineering the epic comeback for the Patriots from 28-3 down to the Falcons in Super Bowl 51. Four years and two more rings later, there’s no doubt.MORE: Super Bowl 55 winners and losersBrady, when being feted as five-time Super Bowl MVP, didn’t want to compare his Super-successful run with the Bucs to anything he did with the Patriots. But in reality, even though he considers all his Super Bowl wins special, he somehow added an even greater chapter to his GOATness.”We’ve been grinding pretty hard so I haven’t had time to think about things like that,” Brady said. “I’m just blessed and grateful to my teammates, all the people who have supported us all year.”Brady won it all again with a team he hand-picked in free agency, followed by a mostly virtual offseason and no preseason. He did it after taking plenty of personal and team lumps through the first three months of the regular season. He had to do it with a wild-card team, winning three consecutive NFC road playoff games before coming home to roost in Super Bowl 55. He made sure the Buccaneers hit 30 points or more in all four of those postseason games.”It’s been an amazing year. We got off to a good start, 7-2 and then had a little rough stretch where we found our identity. We played a lot better football in December and January,” Brady added. “You get this far, you want to get the job done, and we did it.”MORE: Patrick Mahomes’ sheer genius comes to abrupt end in Super Bowl 55Brady finished by out-dueling new league MVP Aaron Rodgers and dethroning Super Bowl MVP Mahomes. He played much better and also took his team much further than three more active Super Bowl winners and future Hall of Famers: Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. Brady also finished by picking apart the Chiefs’ tough pass defense with precision (21-of-29, 201 yards, 3 TDs, 125.8 passer rating), burning Super Bowl 41 nemesis Steve Spagnuolo’s aggressive scheme in the process.Brady, for the first time in 10 Super Bowls, led his team to a touchdown drive in the first quarter. Brady, after winning his first six Super Bowls by a combined 29 points, finally enjoyed a blowout victory, by 22 points in a single game.For the second time in a Super Bowl game, he connected with longtime go-to tight end Rob Gronkowski for two touchdowns, after making the winning play with him in Super Bowl 53, their last together with the Patriots. For the second time, Brady, who led the Patriots to the NFL’s still most recent championship repeat in Super Bowl 39 over another Andy Reid-coached team, denied another younger contemporary QB of back-to-back rings, like he did head-to-head vs. Wilson in Super Bowl 49.Brady has now beaten six of the NFL’s 32 teams in the Super Bowl and his first-ever AFC opponent. He was the much better QB on the same field than the 25-year-old Mahomes, the kid that was supposed to have already headed toward becoming the new GOAT.MORE: Tom Brady after 40 compared to other great athletesHad Mahomes made it back-to-back with the Chiefs, he would have two rings to Brady’s six. Now being stuck on “only” one with Brady widening his lead to six feels a lot more unsurmountable. Brady also confirmed he will be back with a loaded Bucs team to try to make 8-for-11 at age 44.While Brees and Roethlisberger mull over about retirement, Philip Rivers already there and Rodgers inching toward a crossroads, he’s buried all of them, much like Brady distanced himself from brand new Hall of Famer Peyton Manning early in his career.Remember when the debate was Brady vs. one of his 49ers’ boyhood idols, Joe Montana? It seems like that was put to bed years ago. He’s now on verge of doubling the individual ring totals of Montana, Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw. Brady has only one fewer ring than Rodgers, Mahomes, Wilson, Brees, Roethlisberger and Manning combined. Brady has played in the Super Bowl at a 48 percent clip in his 21-year career, playing at an elite level going into Season 22.So what’s left? Brady joined Manning in winning Super Bowls with two NFL teams. Brady can now chase down trying to repeat with a second team and create another mini-dynasty. He can shoot to continue to excel until age 48 and retire as the oldest and winningest QB to ever play the game. Brady is now the only player at any position to win seven NFL championships in any era. MORE: The best, worst commercials from Super Bowl 55
In the longer history of professional football, only the late Otto Graham, who played in 1940s and 1950s, has that many as a quarterback. Now Brady is in the ridiculous position of only chasing the Boston Celtics and Montreal Canadiens players who racked up eight-plus titles in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s dynasties, topped by Bill Russell and Henri Richard getting to 11 championships.Mahomes could have started a whole different conversation with a winning head-to-head result over Brady. Instead, Brady has further isolated himself, to the that point that no other NFL player should ever be mentioned in the same breath as him ever again, at least in our lifetimes. LeBron James, Serena Williams and Roger Federer all keep defying ages, too and redefining greatness now, but consider they’re all still shy of 40. in terms of team sports, if James can keep it going for a while to build on 4-for-10 rings at age 36, then maybe one can talk, but he first needs to pass Jordan before thinking about Brady.It’s gotten to the point GOAT is no longer great enough when referring to Brady. Just like figuring out when his unprecedented run of championships will end, good luck finding the right word.