Does Tom Brady have 3 Hall of Fame-worthy eras in his NFL career?
There has never been an active player who is more of a sure-fire lock for the NFL Hall of Fame than Tom Brady – but it’s arguable that the 44-year-old has spearheaded three different eras that would be considered Hall of Fame careers in their own right.
Tom Brady's body of work is unprecedented, not only because of the amount of success he has achieved but because of the length of time the seven-time Super Bowl winner has operated at a world-class level.
If you broke down Tom Brady’s legacy, would it make three Hall of Fame careers?
2000-2006: Laying the foundations
After being drafted with the 199th pick of the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, the seventh quarterback off the board was handed an opportunity to start in place of the injured Drew Bledsoe in the third game of the 2001 season – and he never looked back.
Tom Brady never relinquished his grip on the jersey, leading the team to a 11-5 record and winning the Super Bowl. He was named Super Bowl MVP in his first year as a starter. Two years later, Brady and the Patriots were back again following a 14-2 season. A second ring, a second Super Bowl MVP award.
A year later, in 2004, another 14-2 season, and New England were celebrating being champions for the third time in four years. Two more winning seasons followed and, after six years in the league, Tom Brady was three from three in Super Bowls, had three Pro Bowl appearances, led the league in passing yards and touchdowns, and had a 12-2 post-season record. Hall of Fame worthy?
2007-2014: Climbing the mountain
Tom Brady and the Patriots chiseled themselves into NFL history in 2007, going a perfect 16-0 in the regular season and 18-1 by the time the ticker tape fell on Eli Manning, the New York Giants and one of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history. Brady claimed regular season MVP and offensive player of the year honors after leading the NFL in yards, touchdowns and passer rating.
After missing all but one game of 2008 to injury, Tom Brady sealed the Comeback Player of the Year prize in 2009 after going 10-6. It took four years for Brady and the Pats to return to the big game – all of them winning seasons – and in 2011, once again the Giants had head coach Bill Belichick’s number.
Three more years passed and Brady broke the two-loss streak, lifting the Lombardi in 2014 thanks to Malcolm Butler’s goal-line interception on Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson's pass attempt. Brady was a Super Bowl MVP for a third time.
During this eight-year stretch, Brady led the Patriots to three Super Bowls – winning one. He was league MVP twice, a two-time Offensive Player of the Year, a two-time first-team All-Pro, a six-time Pro Bowler, had seven winining seasons, and went 9-6 in the playoffs. Surely this section of Brady's resume matches up to any first-ballot Hall of Famer?
2015-2020: Earning legend status
After that fourth Super Bowl triumph by the finest of margins, many wondered if that moment – their first championship in seven years – would bring a close to Tom Brady's era of dominance. In 2015, the Patriots went 12-4 but came up short against Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos, however in 2016, he was reinvented.
Tom Brady conjured up one of his greatest ever feats, the most unlikely of comebacks from 28-3 down against the Atlanta Falcons to claim a fifth Super Bowl ring. That was the first of three straight Super Bowls, falling to Nick Foles' Philadelphia Eagles, before silencing the Los Angeles Rams for ring number six.
A 12-4, 2019 regular season and playoff loss to the Tennesse Titans, proved to be Tom Brady's last dance in New England – but at 43 years old, back he came with a chip on his shoulder and a point to prove, powering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to blow away the Kansas City Chiefs – and grasp a unmatched seventh Super Bowl.
This five-year period yielded three wins in four Super Bowls, two more Super Bowl MVPs, the 2017 season MVP, another first-team All Pro, five Pro Bowl nominations, five more winning seasons, a post-season record of 12-3 and a genuine claim to be the greatest of all time. Three from three?
Henno van Deventer