Has Tom Brady become his own worst enemy?
It’s often said that a man with nothing to lose should be feared. That was once true of the New England Patriots Tom Brady. Brady started his NFL postseason career with nine straight wins. He was 3-0 in Super Bowls and was named the game’s most valuable player twice; all by the age of 27. He was young, hungry and had nothing to lose — no legacy to protect, no hype to live up to. In fact, the more he succeeded, the more he wanted. But with three Super Bowl championships in his first five professional seasons and none in the last seven, the question has to be asked; what happened to Tom Brady? Have defenses figured him out? Has he lost his playoff swagger? The better answer can be found by placing Brady in front of a mirror. He’s competing against a prolific past. He’s competing against his own legacy. He’s competing against himself.
From 2001-2004 no quarterback was more unflappable than Brady; especially in the postseason. He beat the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI when no one gave him a chance. Two seasons later in the midst of back-to-back title runs he led the Patriots on a 21 game win streak. By the end of the 2004 season, New England had won three out of four Super Bowls in Brady’s first four seasons as an NFL starter. It was a level of success no NFL team had experienced since the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970’s. It was a level of success that no quarterback had experienced since Joe Montana in the 1980’s. Brady was well on his way to becoming the best of all-time. So what happened?
The problem with winning so much too soon is that a benchmark becomes established where fans, the media and even yourself come to expect it all the time. Everyone was spoiled and wanted to see more. With three Super Bowl rings at the youthful age of 27, surely Brady would win a fourth to tie Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. Heck, the possibility even existed that Tom Terrific would get to five and become the winningest Super Bowl quarterback of all-time. But as fate would have it, what could have been…hasn’t been, and it’s not because the opportunity hasn’t presented itself. The problem has been that not only is Brady competing against opposing defenses, he’s now also competing against his reputation.
Aaron Moon is a syndicated writer and CEO of TPF. He can be contacted at AMoon@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com