Over Easy: Brady will always be the greatest ever, even in Tampa

  • Dan Mackie (Courtesy photograph)

For the Valley News
Published: 3/20/2020 9:00:35 PM
Modified: 3/20/2020 9:00:23 PM

It’s farewell and godspeed to Tom Brady, the greatest ever in all fields, not just football. I would rate Shakespeare, Beethoven and Einstein just a notch below him on the depth chart.

Indeed history has no equal to Brady, lately of the New England Patriots. Napoleon? Close, but he overreached. Queen Victoria? What was she without her empire? Alexander the Great and Catherine the Great were both pretty great — duh — but Our Tom was literally the Greatest of All Time!

When we make that claim, it raises the question of how far back we are reaching. Brady’s supremacy holds up from today to at least the Lower Paleolithic era, when stone tool production was the next big thing and people began writing to communicate (which led to stats — and Brady’s are terrific.) Scientists have found no evidence of a Tom Brady of that era.

And how about even further back, pre-history? It’s hard to tell, since they didn’t leave good records, or play football. According to history.com, “In the Paleolithic period (roughly 2.5 million years ago to 10,000 B.C.), early humans lived in caves or simple huts or tepees and were hunters and gatherers. They used basic stone and bone tools, as well as crude stone axes, for hunting birds and wild animals.”

The chance that anyone choosing that lifestyle was greater than Tom Brady? You could poll 100 eminent anthropologists and you would find consensus: The chance is zilch.

One of the frustrations of the human experience is that we are subject to the limitations of time and space. We cannot know if Tom Brady would have extended the Roman Empire by centuries if he had been emperor at a crucial juncture. Brady in his own time dispatched Vikings, Buccaneers and Raiders. Why would Visigoths and Vandals fare any better?

Brady might have cured major diseases if he had gone into medicine. Or, if he went into medical administration, we might have Bradycare for all. I see no reason, if he had chosen politics, why he could not have been president. And since football teams play just once a week, he could have been a quarterback and commander in chief concurrently — the first president to win the Super Bowl. How many rings do Washington and Lincoln have between them?

But what is the origin story of Tom Brady? I suspect the real tale is epic. In my imaginings, certainly plausible, Baby Tom washed up cuddled inside a football helmet on Cape Cod, near Plymouth Rock. He was found and raised by a strong father figure, the Patriot whose visage adorned helmets in Foxborough, Mass., prior to 1993. You might remember him: He wore a tricorn hat, and grinned with brawny confidence as he assumed a center’s three-point stance, unusual for a Patriot of the colonial era.

Father Patriot raised the boy with a wondrous training program. Brady spent his days analyzing football film and tossing rough-hewn logs in perfect spirals. Tom grew ever stronger and wise in the ways of offensive and defensive coordinators.

It was only natural that coach Bill Belichick stepped into the role of mentor when Young Tom finished his schooling and entered the wider world. Together they would compete in nine Super Bowls, winning six. The defeats were painful but temporary; the victories glorious beyond belief.

Brady married a supermodel, uniting two modern “brands” in the way that royal marriages once united kingdoms and brought peace to their realms. In sports at least, New England has experienced a joyful and extended Renaissance, an Era of Good Feelings, the Belle Epoch of Belichick.

But all things end. Achilles sulked in his tent. Lee’s army wore down. Sears had a closeout sale. At age 42, which is 84 in football years, Brady is taking his talents to Tampa.

I was at first disheartened, but then I decided that if Tom Brady was leaving, it must be that he has some greater task before him. How can mere mortals put their petty desires before whatever is calling TB12? He is needed. He must go.

You may say that I have an inflated view of Tom Brady. I say no; my musings are actually deflated from the awesome reality. He was not just the greatest of all time; if it’s in any way possible he was even better than that.

New England fans have the consolation of dipping again and again into the collective pool of memory of Patriot comebacks and mighty triumphs. As Humphrey Bogart might say, if he could amend his Casablanca dialog, “We’ll always have Tom Brady.”

Amen to that.

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.

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