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Kalemkerian: The GOAT That Keeps On Giving

| Monday, September 13, 2021

Football is finally back, and with one constant comes another: the inevitable dominance of the GOAT, more commonly known as Tom Brady. As a Giants fan, I have no love lost for Brady. Yet for as long as I’ve been following football, and almost as long as I’ve been alive, an unathletic, unassuming sixth-round draft pick has maintained a vice grip on what is one of the most difficult professional sports leagues to achieve sustained success. Entering his 22nd season at the ripe old age of 44, many have written Brady off as washed-up. This is no new story: the same “experts” who have projected his inevitable decline year after year have been wrong every time so far. And as if nothing had changed, as if age is just one more opponent that can be game-planned against, we were treated to another vintage Brady performance on opening night of this NFL season.

Coming off of a seventh Super Bowl championship with largely the same Buccaneers team around him, Brady traded scoring drives with the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott for much of Thursday’s game. Down two with five minutes left, Prescott drove Dallas down the field one last time and a 48-yard field goal off the leg of Greg Zuerlein put the Cowboys up with just under a minute and thirty seconds left on the clock. While the Cowboys faithful may have been elated to go up on the reigning Super Bowl champs, the average NFL fan has seen this storyline play out time after time, season after season; we all know how this movie ends. Sure enough, as they headed to commercial break, the NBC cameras picked out Brady staring at the Cowboys sideline with a “you left me too much time” look on his face.

As if scripted, Brady calmly led Tampa Bay down the field, meticulously picking apart the Cowboys defense as he has with defenses for the past two decades. After two completions each to long-time Bengal Gio Bernard (who Brady will absolutely LOVE as a target out of the backfield this season) and his ever-faithful sidekick Rob Gronkowski, Brady found Chris Godwin on a may-have-been-offensive-pass-interference comebacker to set up the game-winning 36-yard chip shot for Ryan Succop. Even staunch Brady critics had to lean back in their chair and give a resigned smile at the fact that despite tumultuous times like these, some things never change.

And so here we are at the beginning of yet another NFL season full of uncertainties. Will the Jets finally turn the corner? Probably not. Will the NFC East send a team with a winning record to the playoffs? More likely than not, yes. Will Aaron Rodgers make it through the season without filing for a divorce from the Packers organization? Your guess is as good as mine. Yet through it all, we know that the Buccaneers will be ready for anything and hungry to repeat as champions because of one simple reason: their signal caller will stop at nothing to win each and every football game to add to his already unmatched legacy. Though it may not be this year or next, Brady will eventually retire. Love him or hate him, at least begrudgingly appreciate the fact that you can turn on the TV every Sunday this fall and watch the GOAT work his magic.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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