I think it’s safe to say that by this point, everybody who follows football already has an opinion, one way or another, about Tom Brady. As he gets ready to play in his ninth Super Bowl, odds are that you either already think he’s the greatest quarterback of all time or you don’t. You’re either in awe of what he has been able to accomplish throughout his career or you think he gets more credit than he deserves, the beneficiary of an otherworldly coach and an efficient system.
And you’re going to feel the exact same way come Monday morning.
Maybe I’m wrong on this one; maybe there are a whole slew of people who are sitting on the fence regarding Tommy B and what he has done as a player, and the outcome of Sunday’s game will finally get them off that fence and into one camp. But if those people do exist, we’ll never know, because apparently they all have much more important things to do than post their opinions on comment threads and social media.
There has been a lot of talk this week about what Super Bowl LIII will do for Brady’s legacy, or how it will impact the Patriots, or what it means big picture, blah blah blah. It’s almost exclusively a ratings grab, as the storylines are all played out by this point, but it’s interesting nonetheless to note that there’s still the notion that anybody, anywhere, is going to feel differently about Tom Brady and the Patriots once the final whistle of the Super Bowl sounds. It might be fun to talk about, and getting together with like-minded folks to perpetuate confirmation bias is 90% of what sports is all about, but if we were ever able to pull of the rose-colored blinders of impenetrable sports fan hypocrisy that we all wear like a badge of honor, we’d have no choice to acknowledge that one of two things is going to happen this Sunday:
If the Patriots win the Super Bowl, the GOATers are going to double down on their narrative that the debate isn’t even close, that Tommy B has done more than any other player in NFL history. The anti-Pats crowd will likely point to the refs, or the defense, or luck, or whatever else it is that they believe is primarily responsible for the almost 20 years of success the Patriots have enjoyed this century.
If the Patriots lose the Super Bowl, the anti-Pats crowd is going to double down on their narrative that Brady isn’t great because not only did he just lose back-to-back Super Bowls, he also has four losses, tied with for most all-time by a starter. GOATs don’t lose when it matters most, and Brady lost. The GOATers will still say he’s the best, that he made it to an unprecedented nine Super Bowls, and were it not for a few plays and bounces (because we all know that this game is going to come down to a few plays and bounces), Brady would have his sixth.
We’re all in one camp or another, and we aren’t going anywhere. Maybe if Tom Brady goes on to win three or four more, there may be a few stragglers who reluctantly pull up their stakes from the Camp Hater and make their way over to GOATsville. And maybe if he loses on Sunday, some of the more reluctant Brady fans will gleefully jump ship and go back to the other side where they’re happiest. But for the rest of us, this game isn’t going to move the needle one way or another on how Tom Brady will be portrayed when he finally retires in 15-20 years. He’s either the greatest or he isn’t, full stop, and pretending that anyone will think differently as a result of this game isn’t overly honest.
That’s not going to stop folks from talking about it, though, is it? So if you like getting down in the mud and mixing it up with the other side, then have at it; sports is a hobby, recreation, and something we follow for fun (my therapist says if I repeat that 25 times a day I have a decent chance of living past 50). But if you don’t, no need to feel bad about sitting all of this out and just appreciating the game. Your mind is already made up, so no need to think about it any further.