Brady joins the immortals after Super Bowl triumph
Los Angeles (AFP) –
If Tom Brady didn't already occupy a seat at the top table of North American sport's greatest icons, he will now be pulling up a chair.
The 43-year-old quarterback authored another implausible chapter to his age-defying career on Sunday, winning a record seventh Super Bowl as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stunned the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9.
It was a victory that elevated Brady alongside names like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Babe Ruth or Serena Williams -- the rare, once-in-a generation athletes whose achievements are expected to stretch long into the future.
Sunday's victory in Tampa saw Brady improve a slew of records he already owned, putting them even further out of reach.
At 43 years and 188 days old, Brady is the oldest man ever to play in a Super Bowl, let alone win it.
His seventh Super Bowl victory means he has now won more Vince Lombardi Trophies than every team in the league.
Brady's fifth Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award is two more than his nearest rival, boyhood idol Joe Montana.
And the victory with the Buccaneers means he is only the second quarterback to take two different teams to a Super Bowl title.
True to form, Brady brushed off questions about where he ranks Sunday's victory in his catalogue of success.
"I haven't had time to think about that," Brady said. "We've been blessed. It's been a great year."
Other athletes and commentators were in no doubt about Sunday's masterpiece, with some describing it as the greatest achievement of his career.
"It's unbelievable... it's unreal," was the verdict of Williams, speaking after her first round victory at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
"I just was watching as much as I could," Williams added.
- 'The Greatest'? -
Former NFL wide receiver and television pundit Donte Stallworth compared Brady's seven championships to Michael Jordan's six NBA titles.
"So Jordan has 6 rings, and Brady has 7 rings. Is it now safe to say that Brady is the GOAT (Greatest of all Time) of all GOATS?," Stallworth quipped.
NBA icon LeBron James added on Twitter: "If you know, you know!! GOAT talk."
Brady's win with the Buccaneers came after he stunned the NFL last March by quitting the New England Patriots after two decades.
While the Patriots had been the most dominant force in the league during that time, the Buccaneers had been one of the weakest teams in the NFL over the previous decade.
Brady's preparations for the season had also been blown off course by Covid-19, which decimated off-season training last year.
"At the age of 43, Tom Brady walked into a season like no other due to pandemic with new teammates, coaches & in a new conference... and won his 7th SuperBowl," wrote Women's NBA player Chiney Ogwumike on Twitter.
"He made one of the hardest things for an athlete to ever do, look easy. GOAT is an understatement at this point."
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians meanwhile said Brady had had a transformative effect on the franchise.
"He's a winner, man. That's all you can say," Arians told ESPN. "His preparation is unbelievable. His confidence rubs off on the rest of the team. His leadership is off the charts. He brought a winning mentality to a really talented team that didn't know how to win."
Brady's former New England Patriots team-mate Julian Edelman speculated the quarterback had been motivated by talk that the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes was ready to take over Brady's mantle.
"That's the ridiculous thing about this whole thing. He's gone for 22 years, whatever year he's on, and can still be so motivated," Edelman told NFL Network.
"He can be that same guy, every day, coming to work, motivated. That's the kind of stuff this guy eats for breakfast. He loves proving people wrong. It's an extraordinary thing, I mean, this guy is 43 years old."
Brady, who earlier in the week said he could "definitely" see himself playing two more seasons, which would take him up to his 45th birthday, confirmed he is not going anywhere.
"Oh yeah, we're coming back," Brady said.
© 2021 AFP