Tom Brady remains stuck in the bottom 27 when it comes to NFL quarterbacks.
But he managed to crack the top three when it came time for the NFL players to rank the top 100 of 2014.
He was number three, behind Calvin Johnson and Peyton Manning.
Still underrated. Of course, some had a problem with Brady at No. 3. "Spy Gate" reference in three, two, one ...
Brady's presence to ensure the success and psyche of New England's sports scene has never been more important and more significant than it is right now. He is basically all that stands between Boston extending the Decade of Dominance into a Score of Success and Boston becoming Phoenix.
Or even worse, Boston 2014 becoming Boston 2000. That year, the Bruins and Celtics finished in fifth place, the Red Sox finished missed the playoffs, and the Patriots went 5-11. The city had gone 14 years without a championship. It got so bad that in the summer of 2001, about 15,000 fans turned up on City Hall Plaza to celebrate Ray Bourque's championship -- with the Colorado Avalanche.
The only bright spot in 2000 occurred with the 199th pick in the NFL draft. Maybe Danny Ainge got himself a future unpolished gem in this year's draft or can find one with the 217 future picks that he now holds.
A quick run down the list of the Patriots' Boston sports brethren is sobering. With every failed attempt by the Bruins to sign a scorer of significance, with every baseless rumor that Ainge is on the verge of landing Kevin Love, with the commencement of "The Purge II" on Yawkey Way Wednesday, more eyes are focused and more expectations are heaped upon the Patriots, Brady, and the Legion of Belichick.
But mainly Brady. It hasn't always been this way. Brady missed all but one possession in 2008, but Boston still enjoyed a Duck Boat parade and appeared headed toward another before the Red Sox lost Game 7 to the Rays in St. Pete.
Tenth Player Award Winner (yes, we're calling it) Brock Holt gave the Red Sox a nifty 5-4 walk-off victory Wednesday night. It might the first turnaround-win of 2015. Red Sox Nation, still satisfied and satiated over 2013's World Series, took an emotional pass on this season. If Love isn't signed, Tankapalooza II might buy Danny and Brad Stevens one more season of patience, especially with all those potential trade chips. The Bruins are skating in circles this offseason. There was much grumbling about their shortcomings in the Montreal series. None of which have been addressed. No one can realistically expect a Cup with the current lineup.
The Patriots, however, must win now. One More - Number Four. This year. Book the tickets back to Glendale for Feb. 1. Brady has endured an off-season of slights, starting with the pummeling the Patriots took in the AFC Championship Game. The size of the chip on his shoulder and burden of his expectations are both bigger than Prince Fielder's ESPN Body Issue spread.
Brady has yet to land a legit deep threat in the post Randy Moss-era. His Binky (NASCAR pace-car driver Julian Edelman) and his Gronk will be back in 2014. Defensively, the Patriots arguably have the best secondary in the AFC and perhaps the best or second-best in the NFL.
Bring it. Gisele's husband is ready. Speaking of Gisele, our favorite fan of BFC, she will be escorting the World Cup trophy case when the trophy is presented Sunday. The trophy will go to either Germany or Argentina. She's probably more likely to donk the winner over the head than give up the trophy case with a smile.
Here's hoping Brady stays a few of thousand miles from that mess and hangs with the kids. No one needs Brady to end up on the DL due to tear gas-inhalation because he and the Mrs. got caught up in the requisite post-game mayhem. It will hard to imagine anyone in Rio too excited to see either Argentina or Germany win the World Cup on their home turf.
That is the soccer equivalent of having to watch the Jets and Giants battle for the Super Bowl in Gillette Stadium. Any chance of Bane handling the pre-game fireworks?
The Patriots should wrap Brady in bubble-wrap and foam peanuts, place him in a giant inflatable raft and slowly lower him down to the situation room below the White House that we saw in "Olympus Has Fallen." Then, take him to the super-secret room one level below where they keep the aliens and the National Treasure. Keep him safe and comfortable in a room at 68 degrees until the start of camp. During camp and the exhibition season, any player who touches him shall be fined $100,000.
All signs point to Brady, who turns 37 in less than a month, having another brilliant season. The good news is he doesn't have to do it for 60 minutes a game over 16 weeks. This Patriots' team resembles more the team that won in 2003 and '04, rather than the team that won 18 games and nothing more in '07.
So it's all on you, Tom. Not to add any more pressure given the fact that every time you and your family play in the nearby park it's front web-page news.
And if the Patriots are unable to bear this burden?
There's always Phoenix. At least it doesn't snow there.
The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
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