By Erik Helmle
Elm Staff Writer
Creating a legacy in the National Football League is not easy. Just managing to make the final roster on a team is difficult enough, but becoming a legend is an infinitely more daunting prospect. You must overcome competition from your teammates, coaches, and even your own body to stay in the game and make your mark. For every NFL success story, there are at least a dozen tales of players who have had their dreams crushed. To establish yourself as a consistent performer is invaluable, and those who manage to even touch greatness know how far they have come.
Tom Brady is one of those players who has not only touched greatness but embodies it. Chosen by the New England Patriots in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL Draft, Brady was intended to be a backup to veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe. In 2001, however, he was placed in the starting QB slot when Bledsoe suffered an injury in the second game of the season. He went on to win 11 of the fourteen games he started and led his team to a Super Bowl victory in an upset over the St. Louis Rams. Along with Head Coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots have made it to six Super Bowl games in the last 14 years and won four of them. Brady has not only shattered franchise records but also league records for pass attempts, passing yards, touchdowns, and a plethora of other statistical feats. He is easily one of the top five quarterbacks of all time.
This success, however, has not come without controversy. In his first playoff game against the Oakland Raiders in 2001, Brady and company were saved from certain defeat by an obscure rule known as the “Tuck Rule,” which was removed from the rulebook in 2013. In 2007, the Patriots organization was fined and docked their first-round draft pick after it was revealed that Belichick had recorded at least one opponents’ team signals illegally. Most recently, the team was accused of wrongfully achieving a gameplay advantage via the deliberate deflation of footballs in the American Football Conference Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts in January of 2015. The complaint issued by the Colts after the game spawned a full-scale investigation into what became known as “Deflategate” and media firestorm that engulfed the NFL for eight months. Brady was originally found to be at fault by the investigators, and was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season. He appealed the suspension, and an outside arbitrator wiped away the punishment on the grounds of a lack of due process and solid evidence.
The main narrative of the Patriots’ season, therefore, has been public redemption for their alleged actions. After starting the season with four straight wins, they travelled to Indianapolis to play the Colts in a regular season rematch of the game that sparked the controversy. This story was played up in the media for weeks, and the night of the game brought much anticipation. However, the resulting contest was not much of a contest at all. The Patriots pulled out an impressive win and managed to silence the critics once and for all. Currently 6-0, Brady and the Patriots are in firm control of their division and looking for another trip to the Super Bowl. Just like they have done in the past, the Patriots have taken the Deflategate controversy and simply moved along by being the superior football team. When asked after their victory over the Colts if revenge felt good, several Patriots players kept their cool and simply replied in the spirit of their head coach, “We’re on to New York for next week.”