Tom Brady Versus Curses

Tom Brady’s career has always bucked convention.

As has been shared ad nauseam, the future hall-of-famer was the New England Patriots’ sixth round draft pick (199th overall) in the 2000 NFL Draft. That year the Patriots kept an unheard of four (yes, four) quarterbacks on its roster. I guess they saw something in this gangly quarterback from the University of Michigan. Remember, at this time, Drew Bledsoe was 28 years old and entering the prime of his career.

In total, Brady threw three passes during his rookie year in mop up duty…

Entering his sophomore campaign, following a strong preseason, Brady found himself serving as Bledsoe’s backup. Then, two weeks into the 2001 season, Brady took to the field after a vicious hit by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis left Bledsoe with a sheared blood vessel in his chest. At that time, many fans thought that the injury—with the team already in an 0-2 hole to start the season—removed all hope of reaching the playoffs. Many fans didn’t even know who Tom Brady was! With Brady at the helm, however, the team changed course and went 14-3 the rest of the way. The amazing turnaround culminated with the team winning its first ever Super Bowl in dramatic fashion against the heavily favored St. Louis Rams, 20-17.

Drew Bledsoe would be traded to the division rival Buffalo Bills the following season. And like that, the Patriots were officially Brady’s team.

In the following three seasons, the Patriots would win two more Lombardi trophies with Brady at quarterback. During these early years, however, Brady was known as a conservative game manager of an opportunistic, run-oriented offense. An elite defense often carried the team; though, Brady typically performed well when he had to (i.e. in the “clutch”).

Then, in 2007, with the additions of recently minted, hall-of-fame wide receiver Randy Moss and slot receiver Wes Welker, Tom Brady became “Psycho Tom.” He also—no doubt influenced by his future wife Giselle Bundchen, she of Brazilian super model repute—rocked a full mane of fierce hair that season. Much like the lion’s mane that adorned his head, the Patriots offense was free-flowing and unrelenting, showing no quarter to their opponents, The team finished the regular season undefeated. Brady threw for 4,806 yards and a then-record 50 touchdowns, being named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). All would be for naught, however, as the Patriots would lose their chance at immortality—becoming the first 19-0 team in NFL history—by the smallest of margins. Eli Manning (a.k.a. Patriot’s Super Bowl Kryptonite) somehow escaped the (literal) grasp of multiple Patriots’ defenders, avoiding what would have likely been a game-ending sack. His desperation throw was caught by David Tyree’s helmet…

…I still have night terrors.

The next year, Brady played less than a quarter before ending his season with a torn ACL…

In 2008, Brady returned to lead a team that was more dependent on him that ever before. The great Patriots’ defenses of his early years had aged out, with it being necessary for the offense to often carry the team to victory. And Brady and his offense frequently did just that. Over the past decade, not counting this weekend’s Super Bowl, Brady and his Patriots have played in three more league championships, winning the two that didn’t involve the younger (and more aloof) Manning brother.

In the Patriots most recent Super Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons, Brady cemented his status as the Greatest Of All Time (i.e. the GOAT) with the greatest comeback in NFL history. His only greater achievement may be breaking the Madden curse that has ruined the seasons of its cover athletes since the dawn of this new millennium—doing so as a 40 year old quarterback.

Must be the power of pliability and avocado ice cream.

Now, on the eve of Super Bowl LII, Tom Brady has just become the oldest player to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Again, this is a huge win for Brady and his health guru, Alex Guerrero. We can all soon expect TB12 Training Centers in every metropolitan area across the United States! But does this prestigious recognition cast a dark shadow on tomorrow’s championship?

Can Tom Brady overcome two curses in the same season?

Similar to the Madden curse, the NFL MVP curse has been unrelenting since the turn of the millennium (see chart below). There have been eight NFL MVPs that have played in the Super Bowl since 2000. Not one has raised the Lombardi trophy.

Two curses may be one curse too many, NFL MVPeven for Tom Terrific…

…though, the Philadelphia Eagles are a good team that has been snakebitten with injuries all year, and illnesses this week!

I know. I know. Belichick must now be engaging in biological warfare…because spying on team’s practices and deflating footballs weren’t enough, right?

As a Patriots fan, I can only hope that illnesses trump curses as the greater performance deterrent this evening.

Though, is it coincidence that as information of Brady’s impending award recognition was being leaked, that there were four, million-dollar bets being placed on the Eagles to win the Super Bowl?

Maybe they’re doubling-down on the curses…

Stay tuned.


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