Tom Brady is an amazing story in every way. His mediocre college career. His 6th-round draft status. His impossible longevity. His 7 Lombardi trophies and 10 appearances in the Super Bowl. While rigid affirmatives are always dangerous in sports, it's a safe bet we'll never see this story again.
That's why we should all keep in mind Brady's career is a singular one, not something to be chased, matched or compared to. Maybe it's because Brady has made this look easy. He's defied the aging process (perhaps with the help of hair color and botox). He's never had an off-field tabloid misstep.
He's never had mud slung at him by former teammates or anonymous sources. In just about every way Brady is successful, handsome, grounded, motivated, committed, and a decent human being.
The simplicity with which Brady has made this all look is fool's gold. He's only suffered one major injury ('08 ACL tear). He's the oldest player at any position to play in a Super Bowl and won the MVP in it. He's never had a bad month, let alone a bad season, necessitating a retooling of his game. His wife loves him. His kids adore him. He made Boston fans (a famously provincial group) care about the Buccaneers. Even a suspension for DeflateGate has receded into the fog. He's the Teflon Tom.
So let's just leave his career over there on the highest shelf for everyone to stare at. It's not at all like anyone else's. It never will be. And the unending comparisons to him should be shot down immediately. Take Russell Wilson for instance. Reportedly he's upset Pete Carroll won't cede more control over the offense and personnel to him. He's seen Brady call roster shots in Tampa Bay (Gronk, Antonio Brown) and wants that same clout. He's seen the Bucs sign Leonard Fournette to bolster the offense, and draft Tristen Wirfs in the first-round to protect Brady. Russ wants that same support. Russ is ignoring the fact Brady never had that influence in New England. Despite winning 6 championships for the Patriots, Bill Belichick still kept him at an arm's length from roster decisions. Russ has won one championship and hasn't been back to an NFC Title Game in 6 years. Brady's (overblown) influence over the Bucs roster only happened when he was searching for one last challenge at 43 years old and the Bucs were desperate to make it work. That help came in the form of two friends and former teammates. Russ, you haven't earned the Brady treatment.
Speaking of Brady's age, we should not be tricked into thinking this is somehow a new normal. Yes, the modern rules protecting the quarterback and today's science and wellness gives Brady an advantage over previous generations. But Brady is also a once-in-a-lifetime comet, a football Hale-Bopp. Drew Brees was expected to retire this offseason but he's released training footage and has yet to announce his intentions just weeks before the start of free agency. Brees is likely stirring up interest for his services since the Saints seem prepared to move on. He's two years younger than Brady, but he's not the player Tom is. Brees had rough playoff outings in the last two postseason losses, ugly performances against the Vikings and Bucs. While Brady marched through three road playoff wins this year and an MVP performance in the Super Bowl (3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions), Brees tossed three back-breaking picks in January's playoff loss. His arm strength is clearly fading and he's missed chunks of time due to injury the last two years. Drew, you don't have Brady's body.
Finally, in the draft there's never going to be another #12. While analysts and fans will always conjure up the Brady story when looking for gems in a late round, the next greatest quarterback ever will not be discovered as improbably. Joe Montana, third-round. Brett Favre, second. Aaron Rodgers and Dan Marino in the first.
John Elway and Peyton Manning were the top overall picks. So when Mel Kiper and Tua Tagovailoa compare Alabama's Mac Jones to Brady we can only roll our eyes. The fifth-best quarterback in his own draft deserves comps to the greatest ever to do it? You can understand Tua trying to pump the tires of his former teammate, but calling Jones "a more mobile Tom Brady" is sheer absurdity. The only knock ever against Brady was his limited mobility. So that would make Jones the greatest prospect in NFL history. "A combination of Steve Young and Brady? I guess we should take him at the top of the second round."
There is no next Brady and there won't ever be. His records, longevity, and career is otherworldly. Forget trying to replicate his roster control, career span, or physical attributes. He is a singular entity. Realize that and the better off we'll all be.