Improbable. Down 28-3, midway through the third quarter of last night’s Super Bowl, that one word would best describe the Patriots chance of winning the game.
Statistically speaking, ESPN defined that word with one miniscule number: .03 percent. That’s what the self-described worldwide leader in sports tweeted out at one point in defining Atlanta’s larger probability of winning at 99.7 percent.
With a roster that includes the following key players drafted in the mid to late rounds (and some even overlooked), the concept of the Patriots pulling off a victory seemed even slimmer:
- Julian Edelman (7th Round)
- Danny Amendola (Undrafted)
- Chris Hogan (Undrafted)
- Malcolm Mitchell (4th Round)
- James White (4th Round)
But one thing all these numbers can’t compute is the heart of a champion. Perhaps the biggest of those belongs to a 2000 sixth round draft pick out of Michigan, Tom Brady, who was once described as too slow, too skinny and too rigid to ever make it in the pros.
The iconic Brady has proved those critics wrong, long before his historic night that saw him set a playoff record for most game-winning drives (10) and Super Bowl records for most pass completions (43), pass attempts (62) and passing yards (466) which resulted in him capturing his 5th ring, besting his childhood idol Joe Montana.
For many, last night’s win ended the debate on who is the greatest NFL quarterback of all-time. But Brady’s greatness goes far beyond what he does on the field.
It can be seen in how he treats his teammates; he understands that his success is the direct result of what they accomplish. So in 2015, he gave Malcolm Butler his Chevrolet Colorado truck, which accompanied his Super Bowl MVP, after the cornerback sealed the win over the Seattle Seahawks with his game-saving interception. And this year, he will do the same, giving his MVP truck to running back James White who scored 20 points on a two-point conversion and three touchdowns, the last of which won the game in overtime.
With all that he has achieved, Brady remains humble, often deflecting praise and instead heaping it on his teammates. “Tom has a huge heart,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said earlier this week. “As his teammate, you really feel like he genuinely cares about you. He really has a love for you, so it’s hard not to love the guy in return.”
The entire world saw Tom’s passion on display, not for his teammates, but for his family, in the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Over the past few days, it was revealed that Tom’s mother, Galynn, has been fighting cancer for the past 18 months. And so Tom told others that he was going to win the Super Bowl for his mom.
And when a seven-year-old kid asked him who his hero was on Media Day, Brady held back tears as he responded, “Well, I think my dad is my hero because he is someone I look up to every day.”
With three young children of his own and a number of teammates almost half of his age, Brady serves as a leader and a role model to them. And he uses his star cachet to enact good in this world. His longtime involvement in Best Buddies, a nonprofit that creates opportunities for those with intellectual and development disabilities, is one example of this. Every offseason, he partakes in a 100-mile bike ride from Boston to Hyannisport to raise awareness and funds to the organization.
Former teammate Darrelle Revis once compared Brady to Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, two of the world’s greatest athletes. Sunday’s Super Bowl was affirmation of that, but it was just one piece to Tom Brady, the icon.
With Brady, there are a number of ways to measure greatness. It’s more than statistics. It’s how you treat others. It’s how you handle adversity. And it’s what you do with your talents to make this world a better place.
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Words of an Icon: “A lot of times I find that people who are blessed with the most talent don’t ever develop that attitude, and the ones who aren’t blessed in that way are the most competitive and have the biggest heart.” – Tom Brady