Tom Brady is the greatest "franchise" in American sports history.

Updated: Jan 29

With six Superbowl rings under his belt, Tom Brady is eyeing his seventh. What does it say about his legacy? Brady is the most successful 'franchise' to exist and it's not even close.

“You wanna know which ring is my favorite? The next one.” - Tom Brady

I've always been a sports fan. From a young age, if I wasn't rumblin', stumblin', bumblin' (an ode to Chris Berman) around the yard, I was watching a game on the tube. I was born in 1994; a time when the Dallas Cowboys were on top of the world as Superbowl Champions. How has Dallas faired since then? Not as good as Tom Brady.

An alum from Michigan University, Brady had a sub-mediocre career in which from 1996-1999 he threw for a modest 4,773 yards and 30 touchdowns ( . His stats weren't eye-popping, but what didn't show up in the stat sheet was Brady's relentless pursuit of perfection. Could we have predicted he would go on to have the greatest career among American sports athletes? It's unlikely any of us could've seen it coming, except for Tom Brady.

In 2000, sitting in a packed Madison Square Garden, Brady waited for his name to be called. Although his draft stock wasn't among the best, Brady was optimistic he would hear his name sooner rather than later. 198 draft picks and six rounds in, he was still on the board. It was one pick later, at 199th, Brady found out his new home would be in Foxborough, Massachusetts playing for the New England Patriots.

At the time, the Patriots were coming off an 8-8 season. Pete Carroll was trying to right the ship and there was growing concern New England wasn't going to reach the promise land with Drew Bledsoe, even though Bledsoe would eventually sign a 10-year $103 million dollar contract to remain in New England. Eventually, Bill Belichick would take over head coaching responsibilities. Bringing Brady into the fold gave New England assurance they had a modest plan-B at the quarterback position, but certainly no guarantees.

Fast-forward to a week 2 matchup against the Jets in 2001, Bledsoe and the Patriots found themselves down 10-3 in the fourth quarter with 5:11 left on the game clock. Bledsoe scrambled right as the pocket collapsed and headed towards the sideline when Jets' Mo Lewis lowered the boom on the 29-year-old quarterback. Bledsoe remained on the ground. A sheared blood vessel in his chest, it would be the last time Bledsoe would lead the New England Patriots. Although it was devastating, the injury to Bledsoe simultaneously paved the way for the 'Brady-era' to begin in New England. What Brady would do the rest of the season would be nothing short of amazing.

The Patriots would go on to finish 11-3 and lock up the 2nd seed in the AFC Playoffs. In what became known as the "tuck-rule" game, the Raiders and Patriots found themselves entrenched in a winter wonderland battle. Brady's arm would get hit from behind, causing him to lose the football in which the Raiders recovered. However, after reviewing the play, officials ruled Brady's arm was moving forward which ultimately meant the pass was incomplete. The series of events would setup an Adam Vinatieri field goal where he would successfully convert and send the Raiders packing. The field goal led the Patriots to the AFC Conference Championship game against vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers. New England would slide past the Steelers and into the Superbowl XXXVI where they would meet the heavily-favored St. Louis Rams, otherwise known as the "Greatest Show on Turf."

After a Kurt Warner touchdown to Ricky Proehl, the Rams and Patriots found themselves deadlocked 17-17. With no timeouts, New England was 1:30 away from a potential Superbowl title berth. Color commentator, John Madden, suggested the Patriots should play for overtime. Brady and company had other plans. Three straight completions to J.R. Redman, had the Patriots at the 41-yard line with 33 seconds left. Brady's next pass was incomplete, but he quickly redeemed himself by completing a 23-yard pass to Troy Brown. An ensuing 6-yard pass Jermain Wiggins found the Patriots at the 30-yard line. Brady would spike the ball with seven second left, setting up a 48-yard field goal attempt for Vinatieri. The rest is history.

From this point, Tom Brady has amassed a career unlike any other. Having thrown for all-time leading best 580 touchdowns and nearly 80,000 yards, it's hard to believe he could raise the bar any higher. But that's what makes Brady different from most. While injuries, lack-luster talent, or bad luck can shorten the careers of some, Brady has found the fountain of youth. This child-like passion has kept him interested in a game that, at it's simplest form, is just a game.

The argument of whether not Brady's success should be credited to Bill Belichick is a debate for the ages. In my opinion, coaching is important, but it takes the right kind of player to drive success. They both have to exist. So how does one prove the coach needed them more than they needed the coach? We can find evidence in the sunshine state.

Tampa Bay decided the time was now and who better than to lead the charge than a multi-winning Superbowl and Superbowl MVP quarterback in Brady? Could he do what he did in New England for 20 years and lead a team that had been far removed from the NFL spotlight for the past decade back to the promise land? Tampa Bay did what New England was reluctant to do and surrounded Brady with more weapons than ever before. Nearly 4,000 passing yards and 40 touchdowns later, Brady has a chance to reach new heights of success. A level many of us didn't think was possible.

Regardless of what happens this postseason, Brady's legacy is set. He's the greatest football player of all-time. It will be a long time before we see someone come close to Brady's accomplishments, but in the meantime I urge everyone to sit back, watch, and enjoy Brady while we can.

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