The GOAT and The Kid

It may only be the opinion of this writer, but in my experience, no other spectacle in sports of the last 20 years has produced as many captivating stories of suspense, heartache, and triumph as the Super Bowl – and this year seems right on track to do the same.

Gone are the days of big game blowouts of the 80s and 90s, as the turn of the millennium has resulted in some of the most exciting games in the history of competitive sports. I don’t believe it to be any coincidence that since the year 2000, half of the Super Bowls played have featured Tom Brady.

Even further, it’s no coincidence that the nine previous times he’s graced the gridiron’s biggest game have been some of the greatest games ever played. The man after all, is ‘The G.O.A.T.’

It’s hard to believe that once upon a time people tried to contend that no one would ever be greater than Joe Montana, but Brady has absolutely shattered any doubt surrounding the argument. He is undisputedly the greatest to ever take to the field.

What sets Brady apart from other legends of the game is his relentless pursuit of perfection in the excellence of execution. While not as physically talented as the likes of Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson, maybe not the big arm capabilities of Drew Brees or Josh Allen, and not the mind of Peyton Manning – there is no greater competitor in sports. ‘Practice makes perfect’ is an understatement if you think you’re going to share a locker room with the man.

When you look at some of the players he’s thrown the ball to over the years, there isn’t to much to be impressed with outside of one amazing year with Randy Moss. Julian Edelman, Wes Welker, and Danny Amendola aren’t anything special. Throwing the check down to Gronk or James White, Dion Lewis, and Danny Woodhead hasn’t been to exciting either. But none the less, the style of play had worked near flawlessly for well over a decade thanks to Tom’s dedication to working with his receivers.

The amount of time he put into building trust and chemistry with his guys undoubtedly resulted in the obtaining of Lombardi trophies. By mastering the timing route, Brady always knew where and when a player was supposed to be on the field allowing him to place the ball almost without thought.

There’s an old saying that hard work with lesser talent will beat talent with lesser work, but when you put talent and hard work together the only way to be beat is if you beat yourself. But then … enter Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes is by far the most talented quarterback I have ever seen play the position, with a Brady type psyche and an Elway style playing ability. Similarly to Elway, it doesn’t matter if you know that Mahomes is going to throw the ball 9 times out of 10, he will find a way to beat you EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

And even more amazing, we’re only scratching the surface of finding out what Mahomes is capable of. No other player in his first three years as a starting quarterback has both a MVP and a Super Bowl win, and before this year is over he very well could double both of those categories.

With Kansas City going into Sunday -3.5, it’s clear that the oddsmakers are favoring the up and coming kid over the GOAT.

And while there is plenty of hype surrounding the idea of Brady passing the torch down to the next generation, I think its a fair point that we’ve seen other players we would have assumed to become the next GOAT. Dan Marino is still the only quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl in his rookie season. After being crushed by the 49ers in Super Bowl XIX, Marino would never return to the big game (And yes, he was crushed – ‘Laces out Dan’ is just a work of fiction.)

Russel Wilson is the other quarterback who joins Brady and Mahomes as the only to lead their team to a Super Bowl twice in his first three seasons as starter, and after winning in the first trip to the big game, I think we all remember how the second effort went. Wilson has yet to lead the Seahawks back to the Super Bowl or accumulate any MVP awards, in fact not even a single MVP vote.

I think this Super Bowl will be a humbling experience for Mahomes regardless of the outcome. It’s a known fact that it’s incredibly difficult to get to a Super Bowl, requires an insane amount of effort to win a Super Bowl, and it’s nearly impossible to repeat as champion – as we’ve only seen it to have occurred one time in this century.

My gut feeling is that Mahomes and the Chiefs must be mentally exhausted at this point. Reflective in their record against the spread this year as they went 7-9 against the spread and only covered once during the second half of the season.

While they’ve continued to find ways to win, this stat becomes concerning as it simply means the Chiefs have not been living up to the expectation set for them as the reigning champs. It should also be noted that the Chiefs at times struggled (albeit without Mahomes for portions of the game), against a Browns team that had not been to the playoffs since 2002 and was led by an inconsistent young QB and first year head coach.

They also allowed themselves to fall behind by nine against the Bills, led by another young QB/Coach duo and a franchise that hadn’t been to the playoffs in 25 years!

The story may be different for the Chiefs this Sunday if they underplay against the Buccaneers. With only a 3-point spread, it’s almost certain that failure to meet expectations will result in a defeat. Synonymous with the Brady-Belichick era in New England, Brady knows how to make teams pay for their inability to execute and it’s almost guaranteed he’ll put his team in a position to win.

Of course there are other factors that will play in to the outcome of the game – I do not trust Tampa’s secondary to be able to keep up with the speed of the Chiefs skill players. Plus, with Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s ability to generate pressure with a 4-man rush, the Bucs OL will have a challenge in keeping Brady upright.

But, if the game truly becomes the spotlight of two great quarterbacks, the legend and the prodigy – I would never bet against Brady’s ability to find a way to win. My man’s been winning Super Bowls since before Mahomes was old enough to play tackle football and in a tightly contested game, I think he does it again.

Brady fanboy or not, my prediction …

Buccaneers – 33

Chiefs – 31

Tom gets his seventh.

Enjoy the Game!

CAM-TASTIC: Newton to Pats in NFL Summer Blockbuster

Bills Mafia? Take a seat. Fitz-Magic? More like a vanishing act. And an honorable mention to the New York Jets. Everything we thought we knew about the AFC East upended.

Agreeing to a measly $1M with up to $7.5 M in bonuses for one year, Cam Newton becomes the latest to have their shot at redemption in New England during the Belichick era.

It’s certainly been a long off-season for the former 1st overall pick and NFL League MVP. As the months have dragged on and the focus of the country has shifted to other issues away from sports, when and where Newton would end up became an after thought. And although we now know what uniform he will be suiting up in this fall, there are many questions left to be answered.

Ego and strange choice of attire aside, the most important question to answer is, will Newton be able to stay healthy?

Newton spent much of the 2018 season battling an on-going shoulder injury that required surgery at the end of the year and then suffered a Lisfranc fracture shortly after his return to football during the 2019 season, leaving him sidelined for the remainder of the year. Newton also underwent rotator-cuff surgery prior to the start of the 2017 season.

It is also important to note that the last time Cam saw any significant time on the gridiron, he completed a career high 67.5% of his passes, with an almost 2 to 1 TD to interception ratio, and a 94.2 QBR (second highest of his career). All while playing with the underlying shoulder injury. Proving, without a doubt, the man can deal some heavy blows to a defense whether he be at 100% or not.

The next glaring question surrounding the signing is how well is Cam going to fit into the New England culture?

Belichick has taken on his fair share of divas and personalities over the years; e.g. Randy Moss, Antonio Brown, Darrelle Revis. However, never has he taken such a risk at as an important position as QB. Of course there was no need to take that risk, considering he had the greatest of all time anchoring the position for the last 20 years.

We’ve also seen Belichick have both success and failure with these types of players. Randy Moss revived his career and set single season records; Revis helped anchor a defense that led New England to its first Superbowl victory in 10 years. But then A.B. and Josh Gordan seemed to fail take off. It is, however, considerably easier to supplement the position of WR and DB then it is at quarterback.

McDaniels and Belichick will certainly develop a gameplan around Newton’s talents, as they have proven countless times they can win by any means with essentially any player. What kind of relationship is built between Cam and the coaching staff and how he’s perceived in the locker room could be critical in determining if the second act of his career is a success or a flop.

The last question surrounding the Cam Newton deal I’ll take time to focus on is what this means for the rest of the league?

Certainly for everyone not a member of Pats nation, 2020 was finally going to be the year that New England could be written off as a championship contender and the decades long dynasty was at an end. Then, in the most Belichick way possible, the air that finally again filled your lungs was knocked right back out.

Needless to say, the Patriots are right back at the top of their division and once again contenders in the AFC and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.

At the end of the day, this deal yields high potential and little risk for the Patriots who now have yet another MVP caliber quarterback, a top tier defense, and over $90M in cap space going into the 2021 season. In addition to a potential future franchise QB in Jarrett Stidham.

So fasten your seatbelts folks, there may be a Part III to this Dynasty after all.