Column: No more doubt about it: Tom Brady is the GOAT of GOATs

Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady looks at the Vince Lombardi trophy after winning his seventh Super Bowl on Sunday.
Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady looks at the Vince Lombardi trophy after winning his seventh Super Bowl on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
(David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Tom Brady screamed to the sky. He barked into facemasks. He pounded his palms.

Then, when his magnificent moment was clinched midway through the third quarter, he ran off the field with the loudest gesture of all, the silent waving of a single finger that stood for a legacy.

Of seven Super Bowl wins, this was his most enduring.

Of Super Bowl wins spanning three different decades, this was his most eternal.


For the GOAT, this was the greatest.

To Tom Brady, I ultimately bow.

In Tom Brady, I finally believe.

I picked against him, and I’ve never looked more foolish. The majority of bettors picked against his team, and they’ve never appeared more broke.

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dominated Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs to win the 2021 Super Bowl in dominating fashion, 31-9.

It wasn’t supposed to happen, it couldn’t happen, it shouldn’t happen, but on a historic night at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, Tom Brady even outdid Tom Brady.

The greatest quarterback ever became the greatest football player ever, and arguably the greatest American team sports athlete ever, as he led his Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a stunning 31-9 rout of the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

“How about that?” Brady shouted afterward as he held the Lombardi Trophy aloft while being showered with red-and-silver confetti.

How about that, indeed.

Brady, the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl at age 43, was supposed to be too creaky for the relentless Chiefs defense. He, instead, shredded that defense for three touchdown passes with 21 completions in 29 throws.

“It’s been an amazing year, an amazing year,” Brady said, who won his fifth Super Bowl MVP honor. “You want to get this far, you’ve got to get the job done, and we did it.”

Brady, who has won more Super Bowls than any other NFL franchise, was also supposed to be passing the torch to 25-year-old Chiefs gunslinger Patrick Mahomes. Instead, it was Mahomes who was chased and harassed and ultimately smothered into no touchdown passes, two interceptions, three sacks and an undeniable truth.

Tom Brady, right, and Rob Gronkowski celebrate after winning their fourth Super Bowl together.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

“You’re awesome,” Mahomes said to Brady during their postgame hug.

What Brady accomplished this season was more than just awesome. It was pretty much unbelievable.

He left the New England Patriots’ dynasty for a franchise with the worst winning percentage among all four major sports. He joined a team that had not won a playoff game in 18 years. He began the season with virtually no training camp and in such discomfort, he recruited old friends such as Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown to join him.

Six months later, he’s winning a Super Bowl against the defending champions while throwing two touchdown passes to Gronkowski and one to Brown.

“My father had an expression — if you want to know the road ahead, ask the person who’s been there,” Buccaneers owner Joel Glazer said. “We found that person ... Tom Brady.”

Seriously, has any one athlete instantly changed the fortunes of one team in one season like Brady with the Bucs? Has one athlete’s mere presence had such a sweeping impact on so many people so quickly?

“I think I’d have been smoking something illegal to really imagine this,” said Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians, later adding, “I just try to get out of the way and not screw it up.”

Here are some of the best photos from the 2021 Super Bowl, featuring Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

By the way, is anyone still wondering the reason those Patriots were so great for so many years? There actually used to be a debate about whether it was coach Bill Belichick or Brady. This season, Belichick’s team went 7-9, and here’s guessing he spent Sunday throwing a shoe through the television.

“I think we knew this was going to happen, didn’t we?” Brady screamed at his teammates during the trophy ceremony.

Brady was so certain about this victory, even though the Bucs were three-point underdogs, he texted his teammates a guarantee.

“All week, he made us believe we were going to win. He was texting us at 11 o’clock at night, we will win this game,” said running back Leonard Fournette, who gained 135 total yards and scored on a 27-yard run in the third quarter to clinch it. “We believe in him. ... We just ran with it.”

Fournette said that as game time approached, Brady got specific.

“He was on point. He was telling us what to expect. He was telling us they weren’t very good at tackling. ... We believed his game plan,” said Fournette, another player Brady recruited. “I’m just blessed to be next to this man. ... He’s the GOAT, the greatest football player to ever play. I can tell my girls I played with that man.”

Breaking down the notable numbers behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 2021.

Brady started slowly. On the Bucs’ first possession, Brady threw a bad pass. On their second possession, he was sacked by the Chiefs’ Frank Clark. It was looking like a long night.

Then, even against a swift and scheming Chiefs defense, Brady became Brady.

He hit Brown outside the numbers for 16 yards. He hit tight end Cameron Brate across the middle for 15. He hit Brown for five more. Then he tossed the football to a wide-open Gronkowski, who strolled in untouched for an eight-yard touchdown catch at the end of the first quarter.

Midway through the second quarter, Brady found an open Gronkowski in the end zone for a second touchdown, this one from 17 yards. It was the 14th postseason touchdown produced by the Brady-Gronk tandem, an NFL record.

The first-half clock was winding down, but Brady wasn’t done. Taking advantage of pass-interference calls against Bashaud Breeland and Tyrann Mathieu, he drove Tampa Bay 71 yards in five plays to end the half with a one-yard laser to Brown for a 21-6 lead that was never threatened.

Tom Brady reacts near the end of the Buccaneers' 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.
(Associated Press)

Brady was not only beating the Chiefs, he was frustrating them into self-destruction. Dumb penalties either extended or kept alive all three Bucs first-half scoring drives. Flailing pass interference, needless defensive holding, lining up offside, punching a dude in the face, you name it, the Chiefs did it. They finished the game with a dreadful 11 penalties for 120 yards.

A couple of times, a beaten Mathieu got into Brady’s face with a wagging finger. Both times, Brady shouted back.

The night ended with the aging fighter using the occasion to announce that it wasn’t his last ... don’t even think about it.

“Yeah, we’re coming back,” Brady said.

One had to admit, that was the best news of a brilliant night.

Who knows how well a 44-year-old quarterback shouldering the burden of a defending champion will survive. But I’m done betting against him.

Here are some moments from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 2021 that you might have missed.