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Tom Brady Is Just Fucking Impossible

TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 07: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoists the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers defeated the Chiefs 31-9. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

I’ve grown so accustomed to the inevitability of Tom Brady over the past two decades that the never-ending, near cosmic unlikelihood of his accomplishments has yet to really sink in. Brady has become such a persistent—and often really fucking annoying—presence in every American’s life that it’s very easy to find reasons to despise him. And, more importantly, to discredit him. I’m a longtime veteran of the Brady Hatin’ Society, so I have all these reasons etched into the walls of my quarantine cave. He ain’t played nobody. He bought off the refs (especially in the first half last night). He’s TOTALLY on roids. Artisanal roids. Way better roids than all the other players get. He’s a smiley MAGA fuckhead. And he deflated footballs that one time, which didn’t make a fucking difference at all but which I still held against him because it was fun to do so.

But in the end, none of those reasons have proven terribly valid. In the end, there is always Brady, smiling that idiot smile of his while a soft monsoon of confetti envelops him. He’s been doing this for so long that I can barely grasp it. Look how fucking old the footage of his first Super Bowl victory is:

Football wasn’t even the same sport back in 2002. The NFL was still hiding concussion data with nonchalant abandon. John Madden was an actual guy on TV. Shoulder pads were large enough to be mistaken for an ’80s Armani suit. No one ever went for it on fourth down. The Houston Texans didn’t exist yet. I could go on and on with all the DON’T YOU FEEL OLD NOW? factoids, but none of those have the same effect as hitting play on that link and seeing Brady demonstrate a command that he retains today, 19 years and six MORE rings later. It’s as if everything since that drive has aged horribly EXCEPT for Brady.

This shit doesn’t happen. History says so. Johnny Unitas ended his career in San Diego, miserable and homesick for thunderstorms. Michael Jordan came back and spent two forgettable years playing for the Washington Wizards in what was essentially a cynical ploy to cement a front office gig that Jordan would discover, to his great anger, was not guaranteed to him. Joe Montana was traded to the Chiefs at the end of his career and dragged them to an AFC title game for one last hit of the old magic before all the fumes inevitably left the tank.

That last bit of magic is usually the best you get. I watched Peyton Manning go out on top, but Manning won his second and final title the same year he got benched for Brock Osweiler. Manning, forever linked to Brady as his chief rival, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer, five years after that title. Brady won another one just yesterday, and is favored to win his eighth a year from now with a Bucs team that is suddenly loaded everywhere, even on its coaching staff.

These are not last gasps Brady is delivering. It’s not like seeing Tiger Woods come back from addiction and scandal to win a Masters at age 43. Tiger Woods had to wander the desert for over a fucking decade before his miracle win at Augusta in 2019. But nothing Brady, also 43, has done in the interim has been miraculous, or desperate. He’s never had to come back out of the wilderness. He’s never had to re-discover something he’s lost. He’s never lost ANYTHING.

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This is so far from the norm that the instinctive response to Brady’s seemingly eternal brilliance—well, it’s instinctive if you’re sick to death of him—is to accuse him of playing with loaded dice somehow. But this morning, those accusations feel not just hollow, but pathetic. I look back at my complaints about Brady from the past few weeks, or months, or years, and they all read as desperate. Tiresome, if I’m being honest. My complaints about Brady are fucking older than Brady himself. And look where they’ve gotten me.

Meanwhile, Brady keeps going. He says he wants to play until he’s 45, but now that feels like an underestimation. All signs of his decline thus far have proven illusory. Wishful thinking. I know because I spent last offseason being like LOL ONLY TAMPA WANTS SORRY-ASS TOM BRADY. I fully expected him to eat shit in 2020 because I WANTED him to. But what I want and what is have nothing at all to do with one another. There is a false reality I’ve constructed around Tom Brady—he only won because of luck, or because of coaching, or because of his teammates covering his ass, or because the outcome was always rigged in his favor—that doesn’t match what I’ve seen with my own eyes. Maybe (probably) my disbelief comes from contempt, or perhaps it stems from the fact that I’m watching Tom Brady do shit no one has ever done before, and my brain won’t let me take it at face value.

But I need to accept it. I need to accept that Brady is performing feats of athleticism and statistical import that I assumed died back when, like, Cy Young was alive. I assumed wrong, and it’s more freeing and more fun to acknowledge that Tom Brady really is doing what he’s doing right now. After all, the whole reason you watch sports is for the impossible. For THIS. Tom Brady is the greatest football player of all time. If you wanna call him the greatest athlete of all time, by all means. I won’t fight you. I’m too tired to do that. I ran out of gas well before the man himself. I am beaten, and so is anyone else who ever dared to test Tom Brady. He can’t be beaten. It doesn’t happen.