Let's get this over with. It's hard for me to say, and even harder to write. I've never been a big fan, but you still have to acknowledge his greatness. It's kind of like hating the New York Yankees just because they are good. There's really no comparison here. In other sports, you can compare eras, but you can't do that here unless you can somehow go back more than 55 years. It's true. We extend our arms out, and bow our head multiple times because we're not worthy. Tom Brady is the greatest of all time.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV on Sunday. Brady, who was named Most Valuable Player, completed 21 of 29 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. It's his tenth trip to the big game, seventh Super Bowl win, and fifth Super Bowl MVP. No one else comes close.
Let's think about those numbers a little bit. Brady's championships are like Nolan Ryan's no-hitters. Sandy Koufax had four no-hit games in his career, which would be the most of all time, except for Nolan Ryan who had seven. Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana each have four Super Bowl rings, tied for second most, but way behind Brady. No franchise has ever won seven Super Bowls! New England has six (all with Brady), and the Pittsburgh Steelers also have six—four with Bradshaw at quarterback, and two with Ben Roethlisberger.
Let's throw some more numbers at you. Brady has been in 18 percent of all Super Bowls ever played (10 out of 55). That's counting the fact that the first eleven were played before he was even born! Throw those out and you are now at 23 percent (10 out of 44). In other words, Brady was in almost a quarter of all Super Bowls played in his lifetime.
The 43 year-old San Mateo native wasn't drafted until 2000, and only played one game that year. That season culminated in Super Bowl 35, so if we throw out all of those years when he was alive but too young to play in the league, we're down to 20. Yes, Brady has averaged going to the Super Bowl every other year in his prolific career, and has won it at a rate of once every three years (seven out of 20). They don't call him The Golden Boy for nothing.
If you want to compare his success to those in other sports, you have to go back aways. Although the term GOAT (Greatest of All Time) was originally used to describe Mohammed Ali, it's come into vogue in recent years mostly surrounding Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Jordan has 6 NBA titles, Magic Johnson (my pick for NBA GOAT) has 5, and James has 4, but Bill Russell won 11 championships with the Celtics, Sam Jones had 10, and Tommy Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, John Havlicek, and Satch Sanders each had 8. All of those Celtics championships came before Brady was born.
So Brady, with his perfect life, stellar career, supermodel wife, and adorable kids, is the Greatest of All Time. At least in all of football, and all team sports in the last 55 years. For those of us who have rooted against you all those years, trust me, it's not personal. You're just two good. We extend our arms out and slightly bow multiple times in your general direction.
Rampant commercialism: Everyone has their favorite pick for best Super Bowl commercial, but the best commercial break during the game seems like an easy choice. After the first points of the game were scored on a Kansas City field goal (yes, KC actually led 3-0), we saw a 'flat' Matthew McConaughey in a Doritos ad, a typical funny Will Farrell racing to Norway in a General Motors spot, and then one of many charming Paramount Plus (a new streaming service) promos... There were no Budweiser ads this year, but there was one from Anheuser Busch, one for Bud Light, and a cool one for Bud Light Seltzer and their new lemonade, where people were pelted with lemons from the sky because 2020 was a “lemon of a year”... The Tide ad featuring an abused 'Jason Alexander's face' sweatshirt, and the Pringle's spot where astronauts are being ignored after splashing down also drew laughs, competitors Door Dash and Uber Eats each scored with commercials featuring Sesame Street characters and Wayne and Garth from Wayne's World, and 'Drake from State Farm' featuring the rapper was a new addition to a traditional theme.
Al Davis vs. The NFL: I'm not one for the hours of pre-game Super Bowl coverage, so instead I watched the latest in the ESPN 30 For 30 series, Al Davis vs. The NFL (it premiered last week, but I recorded it). The story chronicled the owner of the Oakland Raiders and his long time feud with league commissioner Pete Rozelle, and specifically Davis' legal fight to move his team to Los Angeles. Since both Davis and Rozelle are deceased, filmmakers used a technique called 'deepfakes', where a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else's likeness. Voice actors then did impersonations of the two. The 90-minute film was very entertaining and informative, but a little distracting. I've seen some complaints on Twitter about the impersonation of Davis, but Rozelle's was far worse. He sounded like George Wendt doing 'Da Bears' on Saturday Night Live.
Back up the truck for Bauer: It's something that the Los Angeles Dodgers have been reluctant to do under this ownership group. Sign a superstar free agent. Not only have they now done that, but a megadeal with pitcher Trevor Bauer puts them over the luxury tax threshold (a soft salary cap that they've avoided despite a high payroll), but they've made that jump after finally ending a World Series title drought of 32 years. The deal is $102 million for three years, but is essentially a two year deal ($40 million this year, $45 million the next, and only $17 million in 2023, which Bauer can opt out of). Bauer won the National League Cy Young Award in last year's shortened season, going 5-4 with a 1.73 earned run average in with Cincinnati. By the way, the 40 million Bauer will make this year is more than the payrolls of three Major League clubs—Baltimore, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.
More Bauer: Bauer, who definitely marches to his own drum, made the announcement that he was joining the Dodgers by producing his own YouTube video. The two-and-a-half video looked like a produced open for the World Series, or a blockbuster movie trailer It was narrated by Bauer, and ends with him wearing a Dodgers jersey.
Tennis, anyone?: There were likely no sports fans in the entire country that watched the beginning of the Australian Open tennis championships live, perhaps including the announcers. ESPN's coverage began at 4pm PT yesterday, or about 20 minutes after kickoff. Because of the pandemic, the broadcasters aren't even in Australia, and likely had one eye on the big game while calling the tennis matches from their studios in Connecticut. Chris Fowler even gave the score once during Serena Williams' opening round match.
Where have all the powerhouses gone?: If you haven't been following college basketball this season, you haven't missed much, especially if you traditionally root for one or more of the nation's top programs. The new rankings out today do not contain Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, or UCLA. The Bruins were ranked 21st last week but lost at USC Saturday night. The last time none of those five schools were ranked was December of 1961.
Gomez dies: Baseball reporter Pedro Gomez died over the weekend. The long-time journalist was just on ESPN reporting on the Trevor Bauer signing on Friday, but passed away suddenly on Sunday. He was writing for the baseball website The Athletic, while also doing TV work for ESPN as part of that network's stable of great baseball reporters including Tim Kurkjian, Buster Olney, and Jeff Passan. I don't recall getting to talk with Gomez, but he was the Oakland A's beat writer for the Sacramento Bee when I was working on Sacramento Kings broadcasts in the late 1980s, and would occasionally be courtside at Arco Arena. Gomez was just 58.
Shake, rattle, and roll: Tomorrow (Tuesday), is the 50th anniversary of a six-point-six magnitude earthquake, centered in the San Fernando Valley community of Sylmar. Nearly-completed freeway overpasses collapsed, and 64 people died. About 30 miles away in Palmdale, we felt it around 6am, but still went to school that day. I also recall losing a tooth (I had just turned seven a week earlier).