The Super Bowl is an opportunity for fans and players alike to reflect on their careers up to this point and analyze what a win or a loss would mean.
Nobody has more on the line in Super Bowl XLVI than Tom Brady.
At the age of 34, there aren’t going to be that many more opportunities for Brady to make it back. This could be his very last chance to add a fourth Super Bowl ring to his trophy case.
A win and Brady ties boyhood idol Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw with four championships while breaking a tie with Steve Young and Troy Aikman.
He would prove to be capable of winning the big game in two separate decades and will have pulled it off with an entirely different cast of players. He would be in the conversation alongside John Elway, Young and Dan Marino for entry into the top three QBs ever behind Montana.
The Brady vs. Peyton Manning debate would officially be put to bed, and the last three years of playoff woes would all be forgotten.
But what if he loses?
Not only would he lose his second consecutive Super Bowl to Peyton’s younger brother Eli, but it would severely damage the way history looks at the second half of his career.
The 2004 Super Bowl win was a long time ago, and in this “what have you done for me lately?” society, people would have their doubts about his greatness. All of the regular season success doesn’t mean a whole lot when you can’t win the big game for six years in a row.
The ’01 Super Bowl win against the St. Louis Rams was incredible, nothing more to say there. But the other two Super Bowls were less than stellar matchups.
The ’04 game against the Carolina Panthers featured an average at best QB in Jake Delhomme. Not exactly Elway vs. Favre. You could argue that Delhomme is one of the five worst QBs to ever start a Super Bowl.
The following year Brady beat a Philadelphia Eagles team that featured a quarterback in Donovan McNabb who had to puke on the sideline during the fourth quarter of a tight game with the clock counting down. Not to mention their Hall of Fame receiver, Terrell Owens, was playing was basically playing with a broken leg.
In other words, Brady didn’t have to be a hero to get the job done.
Now he does. The Giants are incredibly balanced, red hot and have already beaten the Pats in Foxboro once this season. With the painful memories of the ’08 Super Bowl loss still floating in his consciousness, this is his chance to exact revenge.
All the chips have been pushed to the center of the table and it’s completely up to Brady to grab them.