Tom Brady: Paying homage to sporting excellence

Stepping down as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. A willingness to do whatever it takes despite the odds. Photos: Tampa Bay Buccaneers website

The FilAm Editorial

It is a little mind-boggling when one writes about the all-time great athletes who dominate their sport like no other. For one, they define an era.

That is the case with Bill Russell, who led the Boston Celtics dynasty of the late 1950s and 1960s, winning 11 of 13 NBA titles in his career. Same with Michael Jordan. In baseball, you could place Derek Jeter and the core New York Yankees in that category. All of them had superb supporting casts, but the trio are the centers of their team, simply the leaders of their teams.

In the helmeted, fully padded spectacle of American football, the man who defined the game in the first 20 years of the 21st century is Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. They call him Tom. He is acclaimed as the GOAT (Greatest of all time) in this sport.

One digression. The New York Jets, whom Brady spent a career torturing in the AFC East division, were seemingly relieved to see him hang it up, initially asking if the retirement was for real. Come to think of it, that goes for every other team in the NFL in that they were happy to see him ride into the sunset.

That happens when you light up the league with seven Super Bowl victories, and 10 appearances in that American entertainment extravaganza where the half-time show is just as big as the game itself.

One gets the feeling that when his wife, Brazilian super model Gisele Bundchen, whispered to Brady something along the lines of ‘what else do you have to prove?’, her husband knew the answer even before announcing his retirement.

It was time.

In assessing the greats, America pays homage to the spirit with which they approached their task and the resolve it takes to pull it off. They do so under a spotlight that is merciless in their intrusion into every aspect of their lives.

Nothing exemplifies the outsize influence of Brady than Super Bowl LI, the game against the Atlanta Falcons where the Patriots fell into a deep hole at 28-3 and still roared back to win 34-28 in overtime. The odds were impossible, but somehow, Brady led the team back and won.

What we should take from his decision to end his involvement in the game he deeply loves should not just be the records or victories he rang up in football. It is a hackneyed phrase.

But character matters. When one pours himself or herself into something and emerges triumphant despite the odds, it requires the willingness to dig deep and never give up. It is the reason why over the years, we loved watching Tom Brady play. We may have taken it for granted that he will always be there.

But now that he will no longer grace the game, we can appreciate what he brought to the field. In our community, we value deeply the qualities he showed. Commitment. Passion. A willingness to do whatever it takes despite the odds.  May it be the same as well in our collective, individual lives.

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