Tom Brady has become the most accomplished quarterback among the 1,036 men who have ever taken a snap as an NFL quarterback.
He has played in 10 Super Bowls, and won seven of them.
The three players Brady personally recruited to join him with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — tight end Rob Gronkowski, receiver Antonio Brown and running back Leonard Fournette — all scored touchdowns in the first three quarters of Super Bowl LV against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In the end, the Buccaneers beat the defending champions 31-9.
This is Brady’s first Super Bowl win since leaving the Patriots and signing a two-year, $50 million contract with Tampa Bay back in March.
For the next hundred years — maybe for the next thousand, maybe forever — it will be impossible to write the history of the NFL without including Brady’s name in the first couple of paragraphs.
Brady will stand as a memorial to excellence and to the ultimate goal of anyone who plays, coaches, or cares about football: winning championships.
The mere fact that there was a Super Bowl this season is no small feat given everything the league and country has been through with the ongoing pandemic.
It took nearly 1 million COVID tests, thousands of Zoom meetings, a dozen or so rescheduled games and an untold amount of flexibility for the NFL to not miss a single of its 269 regular-season and postseason games in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
The NFL and society, in general, are hoping America’s biggest sports celebration won’t turn into the mother of superspreader events, either at the stadium or at the inevitable thousands of high-fiving, chip-dipping, hug-it-out Super Bowl parties planned across the land.
The resiliency of the players and the league stood out as a bright note this winter, as the coronavirus ravaged the United States and the world.
The NFL’s ability to keep the show moving — albeit imperfectly — reinforced the sport’s strong footing in American culture.
It also generated debate about whether the country and the league have their priorities straight, given that resources devoted to playing football could have conceivably been expended elsewhere.
‘In some ways, you say, it doesn’t feel right to be talking about sports and thinking about sports in the middle of a pandemic,’ said Ketra Armstrong, the director at University of Michigan’s Center for Race and Ethnicity in Sport. ‘But when you think the role sports can play for the psyche of the country, and you understand the level people are going to to deliver sports, you can appreciate’ the effort the NFL made to make the season happen.
And, in fact, the NFL’s efforts benefitted more than simply the league’s own interests. Using as a backbone of its research the approximately 957,000 tests it conducted on more than 7,500 players and employees, the NFL collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control to publish a paper describing testing protocols, mitigation strategies and contact-tracing measures that could also be useful in ‘high-density environments’ such as schools and long-term care facilities.
A key conclusion from the paper was that ‘although the protocols implemented by the NFL were resource-intensive’ — i.e., the league had plenty of money and manpower to implement a testing program few other organizations would dream of — many of the lessons learned were valuable.
‘The idea was to test frequently, to identify when you had a positive, and to isolate and trace closely if you did,’ commissioner Roger Goodell said, while taking a victory lap of sorts earlier in the week at his annual Super Bowl news conference. ‘We don’t think there was a safer place to be than at an NFL facility that year. We never doubted that for a second.’