There is no doubt we all witnessed an extraordinary moment in sports history on Sunday night. From the exhilarating comeback, to a one-of-a kind halftime show, to the amusing and sometimes controversial advertisements, it was certainly a night to remember.
The Patriots’ amazing comeback win leaves us wondering how this relates in a historical context, and what it means for the future.
- Was this the greatest Super Bowl in NFL history?
The amount of Super Bowl records broken or tied in Super Bowl LI is astounding and overwhelming. But, out of 31 broken or tied records, two stand out and are the most compelling.
First, in Super Bowl LI, there was the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. For a game that was thought to be over by halftime, the Patriots comeback was like nothing anyone has seen before. Down 25 points, New England was given 0.3% odds to win the Super Bowl. The fact that the Patriots overcame these odds makes it difficult to say that this was not the greatest Super Bowl in NFL history.
Second, this was the only Super Bowl in NFL history to go into overtime. In fifty-plus years of Super Bowl games, no other games required extra time. Sure, there were plenty that came down to the wire, but when deciding the biggest sporting event in the country, you have to give it to the one that needed to go beyond the fourth quarter to decide it.
Together, these two scenarios put Super Bowl LI over the top.
- Is Tom Brady the greatest football player of all time?
Answer: No, at least not yet.
Clearly this question is on everyone’s mind. By winning Super Bowl LI, Tom Brady became the quarterback with the most Super Bowl championships in NFL history. He also has the most Super Bowl MVPs in history and the most career wins for any quarterback. While it might be easy to look at these amazing accomplishments and automatically call him the greatest of all time, it is possible to argue against this notion. So get ready to be triggered New England fans!
First, the cheating scandals will never go away and will tarnish the reputation of both Brady and Belichick. Whether it is Spygate or Deflategate, the Patriots were found guilty by the league for cheating and assessed suspensions and fines. In the case of Deflategate, Brady also destroyed evidence. These are not characteristics of someone you can call the greatest.
Second, the greatest should not be solely based on Super Bowl victories. While it should play a very important part, people are acting like it is the only deciding factor. Tom Brady ranks fourth in NFL history both in total passing yards, and in total touchdowns. While he does have the rest of his career to move up this ladder, the greatest of all time should be a little higher on the list, if not the top.
Third, a large portion of Brady’s success has to be attributed to Bill Belichick and the brilliant system that he was fortunate enough to get into in New England. It seems like all quarterbacks prosper in that system. Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallet, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Matt Cassel all had success when Brady was injured or suspended. If you notice, when Hoyer and Mallet were traded to other teams, they did not match their performances in New England. It makes you wonder if Brady would be as good if he was in a different system.
Above all, it is irrelevant to call him the greatest of all time until he actually retires and we can look at his entire career in context with others.
This brings us to our next question.
- Will Tom Brady retire?
Answer: Unfortunately, no.
Much to the dismay of non-Patriot fans across the country, the 39-year-old will be staying right where he is, and so will Bill Belichick. While he certainly is getting up there in age, his performance this season is clear that he has more left in the tank. In fact, according to Brady himself, there is “no end in sight.” Tom Brady loves the game too much and will keep playing as long as he possibly can at a high level.
This might not even be up for debate. Just weeks before the Super Bowl, the Patriots announced that they are looking to sign Brady to a 3-5 year extension in the offseason. The Patriots, their four time Super Bowl MVP quarterback, and their Hall of Fame coach will stick together and look to continue their legacy.
By Eric Spiniello Photo Credit: Darron Cummings-Associated Press