Happy 37th birthday, Tom Brady.
Assuming we take all that boring stuff about a “happy, healthy family” and “world peace" off the table, we'll guess that his birthday wish might have something to do with winning a fourth Super Bowl.
Birthdays allow us to celebrate and reflect.
Brady should find some solace in the fact that John Elway didn’t win his first Super Bowl until he was 37. Elway won another one when he was 38, in part because he got to play the Jets in the AFC title game and the Falcons in the Super Bowl.
Brady has much to be thankful for Sunday on this non-milestone birthday. He appears to have everything any 37-year-old guy would want, including (and most importantly) a happy and healthy family.
Brady’s birthday gives the Patriots and Patriots Nation an opportunity to show their appreciation for all those victories and championships he’s helped to orchestrate. It’s an annual reminder for NFL fans from Hartford to Houlton to appreciate what he's done. It appears he'll continue to do the same for at least another three years, barring catastrophic injury or another Super Bowl ring.
Birthday No. 37 also increases volume and intensity of his non-stop football Biological Clock. It will tick faster and louder with each loss this season. It could ring in at 130 decibels if this season ends in anything short of a championship.
In every discussion of the Mt. Rushmore (or maybe we should call it the Mt. Washington) of New England sports, Brady finds his spot. Mine also includes Ted Williams, Bill Russell, and Bobby Orr.
Patriots' fans under 18 cannot remember a time when Brady and Bill Belichick were in charge of the future of the Patriots.
Too many of us over 18 do. Kids, the Patriots have not always been the NFL's "model" franchise. For the first two-thirds of Brady's life, they were at times a very good team and a laughingstock. The Patriots managed to reach the Super Bowl and finish last in the league in both the 1980s and ‘90s. The likes of Lisa Olson and Bill Parcells were both integral figures in the history of the club.
Thanks to Belichick, Brady, and a few others, those are indeed the bad old days in Foxborough. The last time the Patriots did not win the division with Brady as their starting QB or win fewer than 10 games was 2002. The last time the Patriots were under .500 was Brady's first year with the team in 2000, when he completed one of three pass attempts.
With Brady, as we’ve learned, the Patriots will have a chance to win as long as math and time allow it.
Brady has set such a standard that each incomplete pass, interception, or loss is viewed as a threat to the natural balance of the universe.
It’s been 10 years this February since Brady lifted the Vince Lombardi trophy in triumph. When he won his third Super Bowl on that cool Sunday night in Jacksonville, he had a legit shot at becoming the “greatest QB ever.” He was just 27. He was entering the prime performing years of his career. He already had three rings.
We are all aware of what has happened since. Nowadays, at least according to one European-based statistician whose content is shared on ESPN, he’s not even “elite” anymore.
Chief among Brady’s NFL low points are two historically gut-wrenching Super Bowl losses to the Giants. Brady both under-performed and left the field with a lead and less than two and four minutes to play. He is 9-8 in his last 17 playoff games. He’s been without a surefire deep threat since Randy Moss forced his way out of town in 2010. He helped turn Julian Edelman into Wes Welker. The Patriots have lost two straight AFC championship games and nearly lost a third before Billy Cundiff bailed them out.
And if you believe what Eagles cornerback Cary Williams said on Friday, all of Brady’s championships are tainted because the Patriots “are cheaters” who “haven’t won a Super Bowl since they got caught.” Williams won a Super Bowl with Baltimore after the 2012 season. The Ravens have never won a Super Bowl without a middle linebacker who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in an unsolved murder case. (No, the Patriots never won a title with Aaron Hernandez.)
Sorry, the haters don’t get their say today. On Brady’s 37th birthday, it’s time to acknowledge the gifts and cake the Patriots have gotten from Brady nearly every NFL Sunday for 12 of the past 13 seasons. He's 148-43 as a starting QB in the regular season.
Enjoy watching Brady whenever he plays. If you’re a Patriots fan, just think how lucky you are not to have Carson Palmer, Geno Smith, or Ryan Fitzpatrick as your team’s starting QB. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Brady play in person, do it. Make sure your kids do the same. They will thank you long after Brady has retired.
Today, we wish him a happy birthday. The presence of No. 12 in the Patriots’ backfield calling signals remains the gift that keeps on giving. His place in history and elsewhere is secure.
Even if that one special football wish left on the table doesn’t come true.
The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Hit up Bill on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
Obnoxious Boston Fan Email Address. Thanks always for reading.
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