Tom Brady has more or less cemented himself as the greatest quarterback of all time. He alone has won more Super Bowl titles than any franchise. Brady ranks second in career passing yards and will overtake Drew Brees this season, barring injury. He is also first in career passing touchdowns. To add to these achievements, he is the greatest winner of all time. He won the AFC East 16 times in 17 years, reaching double-digit win totals in each of those seasons. However, the recent news that Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title with a torn MCL is perhaps one of his most impressive achievements to date.
The Tampa Bay Times reported, Brady suffered the injury in his final season with the Patriots. That didn’t stop him from joining his new team and immediately winning. The year before acquiring Brady, Tampa Bay finished 8-8. With him, they were a juggernaut. He brought much better ball security to their offense and a winning attitude to the entire locker room.
The effects of a torn MCL
Brady has never been a mobile quarterback. Scouts laughed at his 40-yard dash effort at the NFL Draft Combine. All the same, playing on a torn MCL all the way through the Super Bowl is a Herculean feat, especially for the 43-year old Brady. Brady had surgery earlier in the offseason, which coach Bruce Arians called “a minor cleanup.” This is no minor cleanup. A knee injury of this severity would severely hamper other quarterbacks. While not a speedster by any means, Brady has generally been mobile enough in the pocket. Brady, with his high football IQ, found ways to play around his disadvantage. He got the ball out quicker to his talented playmaking wideouts. He organized and audible the Bucs into the most advantageous run calls for Ronald Jones. And he also took advantage of his top-notch offensive line.
There are a million ways to look at how Brady adjusted for a torn MCL. But the fact that he could play a whole season, let alone thrive, ultimately speaks to his greatness. It shows once again, not that anyone needed reminding, that Brady is the ultimate competitor and winner.
Another chapter of Brady playing through injuries
This is not the first time Brady has played through injuries on a deep postseason run. In 2011, Brady advanced all the way to the Super Bowl with a separated left shoulder. He made it to the conference championship in 2013 and the Super Bowl in 2018 with serious right-hand injuries. None of these are nicks and bruises. Each bad hit to the left shoulder left Brady in severe discomfort. That he could throw with an injured hand in the playoffs speaks to next-level accuracy and toughness. However, that Brady came away with a win this time is the cherry on top.
What this does for Brady’s legacy
Tom Brady didn’t need to add another chapter to his legacy. Joe Montana is the only quarterback who came close to Brady’s team success. Even with an innovative offense, elite head coach, and the greatest receiver of all time, he didn’t match Brady’s titles nor longevity. Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are the closest in statistical measures, but they didn’t win at the same level. Frankly, the only real comparisons for Brady are among the greatest athletes of all time.
A seventh title was impressive. Doing it with a new team in a pandemic was even more impressive. And that we now know Brady was playing on a torn MCL is almost too challenging to believe. But so it was. Yet Brady is not riding off into the sunset. In fact, the Bucs are returning all 22 starters from their Super Bowl run, so there is no reason to believe that the greatest winner of all time can’t find a way to run it back this year.