Just a few weeks after ESPN senior writer Seth Wickersham posted an article suggesting an internal power struggle between Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft, the New England Patriots found its way back to its eighth Super Bowl since 2000. In 16 seasons, Brady has played in eight Super Bowls, reaching the final game exactly 50 percent of the time. Brady and his 5-2 record in the Super Bowl may just give the Patriots the upper hand against the Philadelphia Eagles. Brady will be matched up against Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who started this season as a backup and has yet to play in a Super Bowl.
However in the Super Bowl — which currently stands as the most-watched TV broadcast in history — anything can happen. After quarterback Carson Wentz tore his anterior cruciate ligament, Foles carried the Philadelphia Eagles to its first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, when the Patriots defeated Donovan McNabb’s Eagles 24-21.
At 40 years old, Brady is the oldest National Footbal League quarterback to play in a Super Bowl, and his relentless pursuit of excellence puts him in a position to win his sixth championship ring. No other quarterback has won more than four Super Bowls; Brady currently holds the record with five Super Bowl wins.
Despite the rumors and the off-the-field drama surrounding the Patriots this year, the New England squad epitomizes sports excellence in today’s world. Trailing the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-10 to start the fourth quarter of last weekend’s American Football Conference Championship Game, the Patriots were in jeopardy until its wide receiver Danny Amendola scored two touchdowns, setting the team en route to a 24-20 comeback victory. NFL fans have seen this before, when Patriots trailed the Falcons 28-3 in last year’s Super Bowl and was down 24-14 entering the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks in 2015 before storming back to win.
Love or hate the Patriots, one must recognize its successful system, ability to overcome adversity and ruthless drive to win. Win or lose, the New England Patriots continue to make a strong case as the most successful sports franchise of the 21st century.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Jan. 29 print edition. Email Brendan Duggan at [email protected]