By Isa Khalid
New York city, New York
After making his tenth Super Bowl at the age of 43, Tom Brady left fans and critics around the country in awe of his incredible feat. His individual excellence has lasted for two decades, and his constant dominance year in and year out raises the question: how has Tom Brady sustained such a high level of play in one of the most grueling sports in the world for the past 20 years?
On January 4, 2020, the Tennessee Titans defeated Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the first round of the NFL Playoffs. This surprising home loss forced people to wonder what's next for New England, and perhaps more importantly, what was next for Tom Brady. Many critics believed Brady was no longer an elite quarterback, and speculation about the end of the Patriots dynasty became the talk of the offseason. At age 42, Brady would not surprise anybody if he decided to retire. Rumors circulated for the following couple months, until March 17, 2020, when Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers had finished the previous season with a 7-9 record, and hadn't made the playoffs since 2007. Astonishingly, Brady rose to the challenge and led the Bucs to an 11-5 record and their first Super Bowl appearance berth in 17 years. His excellence on and off the field was on full display all season and was recognized by his fellow players and coaching staff. Coach Bruce Arians stated the following after the Bucs NFC championship win over the Green Bay Packers: “The belief he gave the organization that it could be done. It only took one man.” This feat is the most significant and prolific part of Brady’s never-ending success as a football player; to win a conference championship at the age of 43 with an entirely new organization is something we have never seen in the hundred year history of this sport.
Brady has constantly received the same question time and time again: “How do you do it, Tom?”. Time and time again, he simply responds, “because I love the game.” His love and passion for the game motivates him to demand greatness on and off the field on a weekly basis. On a Thursday Night game against the Chicago Bears, Brady demonstrated a little bit of this passion when he furiously ripped into offensive lineman Ryan Jensen on the sideline for causing a holding penalty. While it might have looked a little aggressive to the casual NFL fan, Brady’s frustration here was just an example of the championship mindset that he brought to the Bucs. His fellow Bucs teammate responded well to his demands; Ryan Jensen did not receive a holding penalty for the rest of the season from that moment on. It has been this constant demand for greatness that has set Brady apart from his peers; some might have superior arm talent, others may be more athletic than him, but no quarterback in the history of the NFL has been more successful than Tom Brady. Brady’s mindset is his most powerful tool, and it is the primary reason he sustained his dominance in the NFL for over 20 seasons.