In 1986, a young kid in red, black, and white custom made
Nike high-tops scorched the Boston Celtics for 63 points in a
playoff game. Larry Bird said that freakishly-gifted player
for the Chicago Bulls was "God disguised as Michael Jordan."
After watching a young man decked out in red, white, and
blue torch the Miami Dolphins for four TD passes and a
mind-boggling 517 yards, many in the sports world are saying
the same thing about Tom Brady.
Oh, I realize the Dolphins aren't exactly the '86 Celtics or
don't exactly have the famous no-name defense of Shula's
squad of 1972, but the display Brady put on in the season-opener
is just another indication that he's close to not only becoming
the best QB of all-time, but one of the top 5 players in NFL history,
worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as Jim Brown,
Jerry Rice, Lawrence Taylor, and Walter Payton.
Brady's opening act of the 2011 campaign was a lot more than
a compilation of stats. It was a display of everything that makes
the Patriots QB great. He had the precision with his passes like
Joe Montana and the inner fire of Jordan, who always went for
the jugular when opponents were wounded, showing no mercy
But most of all, Brady's true intellectual brilliance emerged. Peyton
Manning has often been called the smartest player in football.
Rex Ryan went so far as to jab Brady last year, saying he didn't
spend as much time in the film room as the Colts QB. It's apparent
that Brady is on the verge of surpassing Manning and
moving to the head of the class. Brady runs a far more complicated
offense than Manning's, one with dizzying array of pre-set reads,
a multitude of adjustments and re-adjustments and on the fly reads
that would make Bill Gates dizzy.
On Monday night, Brady showed that he was much more than the
proverbial "coach on the field" that many analysts love to throw out
when describing a smart player. Brady is much more than that.
He is Bill Belichick in cleats. A man with a beautiful mind that
operates faster than the fastest computer. Brady can dissect a defense,
attack its weaknesses, and adjust to the opponents adjustments much
quicker than they can adjust to him.
The precision, the inner fire, and intellect all came together when the
Patriots had the ball on their own one-yard line, leading 31-17 late
in the 4th quarter. Brady, who operated the no-huddle offense for most
of the game, knew the Dolphins defense was gassed and emotional
spent. Run the ball? Yeah, right. Brady recognized the Dolphins were
in man coverage and just as Jordan used to do, went for the juggler.
With an empty backfield, the Patriots QB dropped back and fired
a pass to Wes Welker with the precision of a Stealth-fighter smart
bomb. 99-yards later there was a Katie-bar-the-door touchdown and
the yardage needed to go over the 500-yard passing mark, making
Brady one of only 11 quarterbacks in NFL history to do that.
The NFL Network ranked Brady as the best player in the NFL last
year. Doesn't look like much will change this season, and when it's
all said and done, he might be at the top of the list when they come
around to dispensing their next list for the 100 greatest players of