New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady continues to impress football fans everywhere, whether they like him or not. He will be playing in his 10th AFC Championship Game on Jan. 24, and even he is impressed by the feat, per Boston radio station WEEI (via Shalise Manza Young of Yahoo Sports):
It’s beyond what I’d ever imagined in my wildest dreams. I remember the first one I ever participated in, which was in Pittsburgh. We had to fly there on a Friday. I missed Friday of practice so I could do a press conference at the site of the game. It was the first time it really felt like, wow, this is a big deal.
Fifteen years later, to be a part of 10 of those, I never imagined that any of this was ever even possible. I just knew that I loved the game, and I played with so many great teammates who have, like I said, sacrificed so much. When you play with teammates like I have and you see what they go through over the course of the season, what they deal with in their lives personally, how that reacts to them professionally, kind of the blood, sweat and tears you put into it, you never take it for granted.
After a 27-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round, Brady and the Patriots tied an NFL record with their fifth straight conference championship game appearance. New England is 6-3 in conference championship games with Brady and 4-2 in the Super Bowl.
ESPN's Adam Schefter put the feat into perspective:
As @MikeReiss pointed out, Tom Brady’s 10 championship game appearances are more than 27 NFL franchises have made.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 18, 2016
Brady's counterpart Sunday is none other than Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. It will be the 17th time the two future Hall of Famers meet on the field, with Brady winning 11 of the first 16 matchups.
The biggest challenge for Brady could be the fact that New England will be on the road. The last time they played in a conference championship game on the road, which came during the 2013 season, the Patriots lost at Denver, 26-16.
Brady talked about what it will take to overcome that hurdle, per WEEI:
It’s a great accomplishment for our team. But this is going to be a huge challenge for us. Hopefully our team is ready to step up and take the challenge head on. It’s going to take a great week of preparation. It’s a team that we obviously know very well. We played them already out there. We’re going to have to play our best game of the year.
A Patriots win would be yet another accomplishment to consider when debating whether Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time. If he keeps it up, it's going to be hard to leave his name off the top of the list.