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OPINION

That's life: Why we watch the game

Tony Bender

Tom Brady didn't need to prove that he's the greatest quarterback of all time on Sunday but he did so anyway with his seventh Super Bowl title and fifth Super Bowl MVP award. One could make the case that the brilliantly relentless Tampa Bay defense won the game by throttling the Kansas City Chief's equally brilliant Patrick Mahomes, because, after all, it's a team game, but it's a game that requires leadership, and that's where Brady comes in. 

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The great ones have an aura about them that makes their teammates to believe that somehow, someway, they're going to find a way to win. Joe Montana had those intangibles. John Elway had a pocket full of fourth-quarter miracles. But no one's been as consistently excellent as Tom Brady. Or as despised. Because he's just too perfect. He's handsome, rich, got a supermodel wife, always communicates in boring non-controversial jock-speak, and it seems like he's always in the Super Bowl. His biggest sin was Deflategate when it was discovered that his footballs were under-inflated to give him a better grip. Horrors. In every game, someone's always looking for an edge. Referees could call holding on every play. But his teammates love him because he leads and wins.

Kansas City Chiefs fans look over the field before the start of Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021.

After the Buccaneers defeated the New Orleans Saints on the way to the Super Bowl, Brady walked out to the field after showering and found future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees with his family. Brees is likely to retire this year. He and Brady embraced and talked as only aging warriors can but before he walked off, Brady tossed a pass to one of Brees' sons streaking to the end zone. Touchdown. “Be nice to your sister,” Brady said as he walked off.

Football on the 50 yard line.

There was another telling moment last week during a press conference when someone asked Brady to name a hero. “My father,” he said without hesitation, and he began to expand on the reasons why, but got choked up. After biting his lip for a while, his eyes welling, he simply repeated, “My father,” and moved on. Isn't that why we watch sports? We see these athletes, bigger than life, and then we are reminded that they're human, too, with feelings and weaknesses and fears. 

No one stays on top forever and some stay too long. We remember Willie Mays stumbling in the Mets outfield. Ali losing three of his last four fights, and now we wonder how much longer Brady can go and if he'll know when to make a graceful exit. But it's not time, yet. I'm not sure if a 43-year-old quarterback's arm can get stronger during the season, but early on, Brady's arm seemed suspect, yet through the playoffs and Super Bowl it was as big and accurate as ever.

Rows of cardboard cutouts of fans fill the stands at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021, in Tampa, Florida, where, with just 24 hours until Super Bowl 55, the NFL is on the ground preparing the stadium for the big game.

Across the field, Kansas City Chiefs Coach Andy Reid labored under an immense weight because just days before the big game, his son Britt, a linebackers coach, was involved in an accident that left a five-year-old girl in a coma fighting for her life. Alcohol was involved. He was convicted of a DUI in 2008. In 2012, Coach Reid, one of the nicest guys in football, lost a son to heroin. These things make the biggest game in all of sports seem awfully small.

So it goes. Heartache and prayers from two families for a little girl. Triumph and vindication for Tom Brady who proved that all those victories with the New England Patriots were not all about the coaching of Bill Belichick, despite his place as the greatest coach in the history of the game. A hard reality check for the spectacular Patrick Mahomes who may well be the most gifted quarterback ever to take the field, but you can't do it alone. Anyway, Father Time always wins in the end. Even against Tom Brady.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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