NFL

Super Bowl LV: Tom Brady's legacy is already 'set apart' from Jordan, Gretzky & Jeter

By Sports Desk February 06, 2021

Tom Brady's huge late-career success means his legacy is already "set apart" from greats in other sports such as Michael Jordan, according to Stats Perform's NFL research analyst Ethan Cooperson.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Brady will take on the Kansas City Chiefs, who are led by his heir apparent Patrick Mahomes, in Super Bowl LV on Sunday.

The Bucs are looking to become the first team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl in their own stadium.

Cooperson will be in the commentary booth as part of the CBS broadcast crew with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo in Florida.

He believes the accomplishments of Brady, who is 43 and in his first season with Tampa Bay, separate him from many of the historic greats produced by the NBA, NHL and MLB.

Brady will be playing in his 10th Super Bowl and targeting his seventh title overall, with Cooperson highlighting none of his previous six crowns came in what should have been considered his prime.

Cooperson told Stats Perform News: "How much more can he add to his legacy? 

"It's hard to extend and it is already incomparable. To do it at his age is now another phase of that, but he's already won Super Bowls after the age of 40. 

"It's almost hard to comprehend because he's already done so much.

"It's curious that he's won the six Super Bowls and you can make a case that he didn't win any in the prime of his career, a nine-year period between ages of 28 and 36. 

"He won three of them by the age of 27 and he's now looking for his fourth after the age of 37. 

"There is one thing that we looked at, some of the great champions, the great players, the great winners and in some other sports. 

"So we looked at Bill Russell with the Celtics, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Derek Jeter. Those four won a combined 26 championships. They didn't win any after the age of 36, none. 

"And Brady is going for his fourth after this age. So he's doing something that the greats in these other sports didn't come close to doing. 

"That's why you say his legacy, I think that's what we could say would set him apart, already has set him apart and will continue to when you compare it to some of the greats in the other sports."

Amid the awe at Brady reaching the Super Bowl, Cooperson highlighted how there was a significant stretch of the 2020 season where things were not going smoothly for the Bucs, leaving Brady in unfamiliar statistical territory.

Cooperson added: "It's important to remember that this year for Brady in Tampa Bay, it was not a smooth ride from the start. It was not a straight path to what they have achieved.

"Remember that Week 5 in Chicago, he apparently forgot what down it was, threw an incomplete pass on fourth down and thought he still had another down to play with. 

"He suffered a 35-point home loss to the Saints, it's the largest loss of his career, and that started a run of three straight home losses, which he had never done before. 

"So at the point when they were 7-5 and had lost to Kansas City, certainly it was unclear where this was going for Tampa Bay." 

However, Cooperson highlighted the areas where Brady and Tampa have made the required improvements to spark their run to the big game.

"And what's happened since then, they had a bye week, and since then they've gone 7-0," he said.

"Brady's average is over 300 passing yards per game. That's the regular season and playoffs, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. 

"So this was almost a case of, for three months, this team was sort of finding itself. Brady was sort of finding himself. 

"There was a lot of talk that [coach] Bruce Arians was insisting on throwing the ball deep and it wasn't working.

"So to that point through the end of November, on deep passes, 20 or more yards downfield, Brady had four touchdowns, five interceptions.

"Since that bye week, on those deep passes, it's 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. So at some point, it started to click. It started to work.

"It wasn't perfect from the start, but it's almost as if even at age 43, Brady is learning their offense and it's not clicking right away, but by the end of it, it is clicking."

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