Another Super Bowl victory celebration, another Super Bowl MVP and another ear-to-ear morning-after-championship smile.
In Tom Brady’s world, we call that Monday.
The greatest quarterback in pro football history celebrated his seventh NFL title after beating defending champion Kansas City, 31-9, in Super Bowl LV. It’s another legendary accomplishment in a legendary career in which he has won five Super Bowl MVP awards.
Seven championships. Five SB MVPs. Just let that sink in.
Brady doesn’t like to rank his victories — "They’re all special," he says — but this one is unique. New team. New coach. New home. No offseason minicamps because of the pandemic. No preseason games.
At 43 years of age.
The legacy is unmistakable and unforgettable. This time, though, he leaves something behind for other teams to aspire to, because his journey now can be seen in a different light from his six titles with Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
Brady dictated the terms of his departure after 20 years in New England and may have opened the door for other quarterbacks and other teams to control their fates and replicate the kind of remarkable season Brady enjoyed.
The NFL is about to undergo a major transformation at quarterback, with close to a dozen changes possible as teams push the envelope to get their own franchise quarterback, as the Bucs did with Brady.
The Rams already made their blockbuster move to get what they believe is the final piece of the Super Bowl puzzle, trading for Matthew Stafford of the Lions. Detroit thinks it can build a playoff team with Rams castoff Jared Goff.
At least a half-dozen other teams, including the Jets, are eyeing a blockbuster trade for Houston’s Deshaun Watson after the Texans painted themselves into a corner with their disillusioned quarterback. Carson Wentz is on the move from Philadelphia. Sam Darnold might end up in San Francisco, Chicago or with some other team willing to take a chance on a 23-year-old passer with plenty of upside despite significant regression in 2020.
The Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater last year but might be willing to part ways with him if a better option becomes available. There’s no guarantee the 49ers are sold on Jimmy Garoppolo. Same with the Broncos and Drew Lock.
Teams always dream big, but the NFL has been a mostly patient league with quarterbacks, with teams willing to spend years developing their own. But timetables are changing, patience is waning and quarterback turnover is about to hit warp speed.
Brady opened a door last year with his departure from New England, and the floodgates are about to open as teams try to replicate what the Buccaneers did with this once-in-a-lifetime talent.
Brady chose wisely in going to Tampa, where coach Bruce Arians had a ready-made offense with skill position players who were vastly superior to the ones Brady had with the Patriots. And Todd Bowles oversaw a defense that turned out to be as good as any in the league — a defense that conquered Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes in succession.
But it was Brady who pieced this all together, and without him, there is no second Vince Lombardi Trophy in Tampa.
"This team found a way when it mattered most," Brady said Monday during a first-of-its-kind post-Super Bowl virtual news conference because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "There were so many great plays at the biggest moments. Offensively, we made some great plays when we needed to, but it was the ultimate team effort. It’s an amazing team, an amazing group of guys. I’m very blessed to be a part of it."
Don’t let Brady’s humility fool you; he was the biggest part of it. None of this happens if he doesn’t choose Tampa as his post-Patriots landing spot.
He’ll be back next year in hopes of winning another championship, because there are never enough of those to quench the most competitive spirit in all of sports. But he’ll return to a league he helped transform with the example he set with this year’s magical run.
No, there will never be another Tom Brady. But what this man has done by taking the path he charted for himself and winning it all will have long-lasting implications for the rest of the NFL for years to come.