Brady dares his critics to count him out, once again

The new Bucs quarterback has seen the criticism before, but strikes back harder every time.

Hussain Abdullah runs back Bradys interception on that fateful Monday night in 2014

Hussain Abdullah runs back Brady’s interception on that fateful Monday night in 2014

Alex Kajda, Staff Writer

It was September 29th, 2014 and the New England Patriots were playing on the biggest stage for the week, Monday Night Football. The only issue was, the Kansas City Chiefs were blowing them out of the water on national television, and the Patriots found themselves down 41-7 after a Tom Brady pick-six. That 41-14 loss put them at 2-2 for the 2014 season, and 10 seasons removed from their last Super Bowl victory, the doubts were settling in for not only the Patriots dynasty, but Tom Brady as well. The then 37-year-old had seen himself ousted from the playoffs by the likes of Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, and Peyton Manning in the many seasons prior, and no matter how well rounded the Patriots were, they couldn’t seem to win the big one. They weren’t the same dynasty that everyone saw win three Super Bowls in four years in the early 2000s. It looked like it was all unravelling.

“We’re on to Cincinnati.”

I still remember Bill Belichick repeating that same monotone phrase to reporters following that infamous blowout loss. Despite how simple the phrase was, I knew those words carried weight. Reporters were quick to write the Patriots off, “It’s becoming more and more apparent that Tom Brady is playing his age (he does age, and he’s 37), and it might be time for you to reconfigure the way you think about Brady and the Patriots. Every great dynasty comes to an end eventually,” wrote SB Nation writer Steve DiMatteo following that loss. But no matter how maligned or criticized the Patriots were that year, that team played with determination and passion which showed that nothing was stopping them. Belichick’s phrase became a rallying cry for the team, and nothing was stopping Tom Brady especially.

Just four months later, Brady led the Patriots back from a 24-14 4th quarter deficit in Super Bowl XLIX to defeat the Seattle Seahawks. Four years after that, he won his record sixth Super Bowl title after a victory in Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams. Following that loss against the Chiefs, Brady doubled his Super Bowl ring total.

Players like Brady come from the same mold as a Michael Jordan, someone who thrives off criticism, takes any word against him and works ten times as hard to prove everyone wrong. The phrase from Jordan, “so I took it personally,” which highlighted how easily Jordan could turn criticism into motivation, was a big takeaway from ESPN’s The Last Dance documentary this past May, and that same attitude can easily be applied to Brady.

Those same doubts and concerns from 2014 came up after Brady lost his final two games in a Patriots uniform in early 2020, the final being an earlier-than-usual playoff exit against the Tennessee Titans, in which Brady threw a game-sealing pick-six on his final throw. This time, the criticisms toward the now 42-year-old Brady seemed more realistic than the previous ones, with the average quarterback not usually playing to his age. While Brady allowed that pick-six to become his final pass as a New England Patriot, he would not allow it to be the last of his career.

His signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2020 offseason led to surprise and of course, skepticism. Many quickly threw out comparisons to Michael Jordan with the Washington Wizards, or Willie Mays with the New York Mets, or Wayne Gretzky with the New York Rangers, as legendary players who faded into the twilight with a seemingly random team. These same skepticisms were given more fuel once Brady threw two picks, including a pick-six, in a 34-23 loss in his first game as a Buc. Many doubters quickly labelled the Brady signing and the Bucs squad as “overhyped,” some even labelling Brady as “washed.” Just three weeks later, however, the Bucs find themselves at 3-1, their most recent victory likely being their most important, one that saw the Bucs down 17 near the end of the 1st half to the LA Chargers, and one that saw Tom Brady lead the Buccaneers to a comeback victory with five passing touchdowns.

Despite the season still being early, it seems as if every time fans want to count Tom Brady out, he comes back with more firepower to prove his doubters wrong. It’s absurd to think that a player drafted in the 6th round, 199th overall, a player who people didn’t think would get a chance, could be easily flustered by what people think. Every time Brady is doubted or at a low point, I look back to that fateful Monday night against Kansas City. It was a night that many thought signaled the end of a legendary, but not GOAT-worthy career. Instead, it led to a resurgence and catapulted Brady to become the greatest quarterback of all time. The doubters are free to continue their speculation or opinions, but what matters in the end is the wins and championships that Brady continues to put up, even at his 43-year-old age.