There's no beating Brady ... ever
JJ Feigenbaum is a freshman at Wesleyan and an Andover native. He has followed the Patriots for the entire 18 years of his life. Fanaticism runs in the blood, as his father, Mark Feigenbaum, was Patriots Fan of the Year in 1996. Ladies beware; he plans to name his first-born child, son or daughter, Belichick.
You have to win one game. Just one.
It is the most important game in the world to you, your teammates and your enduring fan base. Maybe it's the Super Bowl, maybe it's against your rival high school on Thanksgiving or maybe you've just run into a bit of a gambling debt and need to guarantee yourself a winner. Any way you slice it, you absolutely must win this game.
Your team is set and you are confident in them there's just one lingering question. Who do you take at quarterback?
Behind door No. 1 is a superb athlete. He's been a winner in the past: in college he won three conference titles, set school records for touchdown passes and yards of total offense. He was a top draft pick and eventually developed into one his conferences top quarterbacks. This season, he threw for 3,875 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also cut down on his mistakes, throwing only eight picks all year. His quarterback rating is tremendous, a scorching hot 104.7. In the past month he has played a pair of quality games and finally brought his team to the verge of a Lombardi Trophy, erasing the stain of three straight years of duty as the NFC's bridesmaid. He is Donovan McNabb, and after all you know about him, he's definitely your starting quarterback unless a vintage Joe Montana or Joe Namath is standing behind that other door.
Neither of them is lurking there. Instead, it's a scrawny looking kid from California named Tom Brady, who barely outgunned a baseball player for the starting quarterback spot in college, barely squeezed his way into the NFL via a sixth round draft pick, and at one point sat behind Damon Huard on an NFL depth chart. Heck, he wouldn't even have had the chance to play football if a freight train named Mo Lewis hadn't run over Drew Bledsoe in 2001.
No question right, you take McNabb, the athlete, the big arm, the touchdowns and the yards, right? God no. You take that Brady kid, because if you have to win a game, I mean absolutely have to win a game, he's the man to do it.
He had a good season this year, has had four good seasons in fact. He threw for 3,692 yards and 28 touchdowns -- not quite McNabb's numbers, but solid nonetheless. In only four NFL seasons as a starter, Brady has piled up nearly 14,000 yards through the air. His 87.5 career QB rating is good.
But you don't take Tom Brady because of his numbers. You take Brady because of that look in his eyes. It's the look he had when he came in off the bench against the Jets in the second week of the 2001 season. Sure, the Pats lost that game, but here was Brady, having only attempted three passes in his rookie season of 2000, coming in for the franchise quarterback and delivering the ball with confidence. All that year, while "filling in" for the ailing Bledsoe, Brady had that look. He had that look when he found Jermaine Wiggins all over a snow covered Foxboro Stadium against the Raiders in the divisional round. Tuck rule or not, Brady won that game.
You have to take Tom Brady, because Bill Belichick did in Super Bowl XXXVI, going with the man who got the Pats there rather than Bledsoe, whose fire off the bench had guided the Pats a week before in Pittsburgh. And Brady knocked off the 14-point favorite Rams, going head to head with Kurt Warner. He had that look in his eyes on that final drive against the Rams, so good, so cool, so perfect it was scary.
Brady was Brady as he led the Pats to win twelve straight games to close out the 2003 season, from the OT win in Miami, to the domination the Bills in final regular-season game. The look was there when the Pats beat the Titans in frigid cold and smashed the Colts on a sloppy day in Foxboro. And he had that look again in the Super Bowl last season, once again driving his Patriots into Vinatieri range.
And so you take Tom Brady because of that look in his eyes. It's the look that tells you he is 8-0 in the playoffs, has two Super Bowl MVPs to match his two rings, is the winningest quarterback in the modern era and is being compared to Joe Montana on a daily basis.
And yet he couldn't care less about those things because he still has a game to win and nothing else, past or future, could matter more. It's the look that makes you know that if you absolutely, without a doubt have to win a game, Tom Brady has to be your quarterback.