Most every pro athlete says he or she wants to win.
And then we see players like Tom Brady, for whom the phrase “want to win” is a comical, criminal understatement.
You think you want to win?
Brady will run your soul through a trash compactor so that he can win.
Everyone wants to talk GOAT this, GOAT that.
The hell with that. Joe Montana will be always be the greatest quarterback I’ve ever seen for his fluidity, his athleticism, his cool and his unblemished Super Bowl record.
But Tom Brady? He’s not just the greatest winner I’ve ever seen at NFL quarterback, he’s the greatest winner I’ve ever seen in the NFL.
(Note to self: send Jerry Rice well-crafted apology note in the morning.)
He’s also the greatest winner in sports I’ve ever seen, right alongside Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan.
In fact, I’m putting those three on my all-time ‘Mount Win-More’.
Picture the profiles carved into rock: Brady, Tiger, Michael.
(I need a fourth, and am currently wondering if there is enough space on the mountain for the dome of Bruce Bochy. Hey oh! Probably we’ll save the rock for the Bay’s own Bill Russell.)
Defining a ‘will to win’ isn’t like defining the K/BB ratio of the Giants’ latest signing, or just counting titles. If that were the case, Robert Horry would be ahead of Jordan.
Defining a ‘will to win’ is more visceral. You feel the athlete’s will through your TV screen. You feel it when you ponder the entirety of their sports existence.
Tom Brady is 43. That’s not a record. In fact, George Blanda threw three passes for the Raiders at age 48 (!) in 1975. At age 44, he actually threw 58 passes (and four TDs). But he didn’t start any games at QB after the age of 41.
Vinny Testaverde started six games for Carolina at age 44. He went 2-4 with a rating of 65.8. Warren Moon and Steve DeBerg each started a game at age 44, too. Nice accomplishments, all. Worthy tributes to their longevity. But let’s be real. These gents were running on empty.
And then there’s guy who will be STARTING IN HIS TENTH SUPER BOWL AT AGE 43.
Yes, talent plays a huge role. Brady’s footwork remains top-notch. The balls he throws — even deep balls — remain among the best in the league. His decision-making and reading of defenses, as evidenced by three road wins in the playoffs, remains elite.
But all of that is possible because of the unseen, smoldering, raging yearning in his heart. The bonfire of Brady.
Why would Tom Brady still be subjecting himself to the pass rush of a lean, mean, 21-year-old Chase Young with a season on the line? Why would Tom Brady still want to sit in film rooms for hours upon hours upon hours upon hours? Why would Tom Brady uproot his life, his family, his routine, his rhythms and his pristine legacy in New England, sell his Brookline mansion, and try to do this all over again in Tampa, Florida of all places? Why would Tom Brady continue to twist his body into painful places with his personal trainer, placing pliability over comfortability? Why would the man, for the love of Ben and Jerry’s, deny his taste buds the pleasures of full-fat ice cream and the occasional binge of gigantic bags of Fritos?
He doesn’t need the money. He doesn’t need the records. He already has both.
It’s elemental. It’s beyond most of our mortal comprehension.
We are witnessing a record-breaking, heretofore-unseen-in-the-lore-of-the-NFL . . . win-wanter.
That’s the what he is. The Greatest Win-Wanter of All Time.
Say it with me: Tom Brady is the GWWOAT.