MINNEAPOLIS — Tom Brady has won more regular-season and playoff games, division titles, conference championships, Super Bowls and Super Bowl MVPs than any quarterback in NFL history.
He is fourth all time in passing yards, third in passing TDs and third in passer rating — and likely to be first or second in yards and TDs and quite possibly second in rating when he retires.
So if he’s not the greatest quarterback and NFL player regardless of position all time, you decide who is. It seems pretty cut and dried to me.
And yet he still finds ways to surprise us in ways I for one would never expect. Such was my surprise when I approached him on Tuesday and found him discussing Sunday’s meeting with the Eagles in terms of his personal connection to Rocky.
Dr. Neal ElAttrache is a sports surgeon, one of Brady’s best friends and the doc who repaired his knee after he shredded his ACL in 2008.
It seems he’s also the one who put the black tape on the 12 stitches in Brady’s throwing hand in this year's AFC Title win over the Jaguars.
Brady explains, "I've known Neal for almost 17 years. He's just been a great mentor in my life, a great friend. He obviously did my knee surgery."
Hearing how Brady overcame the practice injury to beat the Jags was cool, but it never occurred to me what I’d hear next was, “I know his brother-in-law is a great fan of the Eagles — rooting for the bad guys — so that’s the way it goes. I think the whole city of Philadelphia is... I know Sly loves that city and they love him.”
It seems Brady’s doctor and dear friend’s wife, Tricia Flavin, is the sister of Jennifer Flavin and also Mrs. Sylvester Stallone.
Could any other player in the game literally be channeling his own connection to “Rocky” as he prepares to take on the Eagles and the city of Philadelphia?
Such is the life of Brady, the NFL’s GOAT, husband to international super model Gisele Bundchen and perhaps the top likely candidate for Dos Equis’ next “Most Interesting Man In The World."
Asked how he juggles so much coolness, Brady explains, “Yeah, I think that’s a big balance, you know, I’m always trying to find.
“My family gets, deserves a lot of time, obviously so does my career, my team, you know they’re expecting a lot from me, my team is. So I think my family expects a lot from me too, as they should, so I think it’s always just finding the right balance. And, again, I think when the season ends they deserve almost all my time and attention — and they’re going to get it — so I look forward to that.”
First, however, there is one more game to play, and right now Brady’s focus is in part on his most important partner in superstardom.
At the moment he is still uncertain whether his tight end — Rob Gronkowski — can return from a concussion. “Well, I think it’s different for everybody," said Brady.
“I mean, Rob’s a tough guy and obviously this isn’t something that you can just fight through. I think everybody’s being really smart and cautious about it — as we should be based on all the information that we’ve learned over the years — and he’s got to clear everything before he gets out there and plays, but we’re hopeful and we’ll see how it goes.”
So to recap: As Brady prepares to play in his eighth Super Bowl, and hopes to win his sixth, he’s eliminated the challenge of taking on Rocky and the entire city of Philadelphia so he can focus on the Eagles; found a Zen-like balance in his life and entrusted his family to allow him to focus on the challenge at hand for now; and put aside any concerns about whether he’ll have one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the game to get him over the hump.
Yeah, this guy is definitely the GOAT, and someone, anybody, would have to love sitting down with him and knocking back a few Dos Equis.