There have been greatly important games in Tom Brady's meteoric rise to the top of his profession in which he duelled the best the NFL had to offer taking snaps in the other team's backfield. The classic affairs, both during the season and in the playoffs, with Peyton Manning are evidence enough. Brady often had the upper hand then. It just feels different this time.
The elite quarterback issue is a recent phenomenon. It's discussed nearly every day when conversations concerning the NFL are launched, and it's probably because offense has surged to front and center, taken top billing, and given birth to a multitude of stat-gatherers throwing the ball. There are so many great quarterbacks playing today.
Years ago, it was Brady vs. Peyton Manning, Brady vs. Kurt Warner, and that's about it for the high profile gunslinger battles. In those days, though, Brady had a defense on which to lean. It seems that in his most prolific years, and certainly that includes recent seasons, Bill Belichick has either lost interest in the other side of the ball, or can't pay remotely what's necessary to secure great players. After all, Brady does earn a ton of bucks. Either way, the games now are squarely on Tom Brady's shoulders...and the weight appears burdensome.
You've seen his last few post-season games...certainly nothing to write home to Gisele about. In the last Super Bowl, he was outplayed by Eli Manning. In the playoffs two years ago, he was rattled by the Baltimore Ravens' defense. In the game last week, you felt confident he would avenge that embarrassment with a haymaker, but he again played unspectacularly. Even last season against the New York Jets in the playoffs, a team against whom you know he hungers to excel, he was ordinary. In prior years, if Brady wanted a game...really wanted it...it was a done deal.
You just don't get that sense any more. So when you hear that Brady doesn't want to lose to Eli Manning twice in the Super Bowl, doesn't want to lose to the New York Giants twice, wants to demonstrate he will bounce back from the Ravens' game, that his competitive fire is burning brighter than usual, it's simply not as credible as it used to be.
Glenn Vallach has been a football fan for most of his lifetime, but never played organized pigskin unless you consider the thousands of youth hours running slant routes on city streets with a friend serving as Joe Willie. Don Maynard was his idol, an adulation he took seriously, complete with a number 13 stitched to his sweatshirt. In later years, he modernized his admiration and included Wayne Chrebet. Receivers -- always receivers. He remains a New York Jet fan through so much disappointment and embarrassment over the years. Coach Rex Ryan has rekindled a dormant fire, but sometimes he feels as if he doesn't understand the likely end result of all his efforts. It has been 42 years, after all.
- · Yahoo! Sports New England Patriots page
- · Yahoo! Sports Baltimore Ravens page
- · Yahoo! Sports Tom Brady page
- · Yahoo! Sports Eli Manning page
- · Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports, Brady suddenly struggling in Pats' biggest games