Legendary quarterback guides Tampa Bay Buccaneers into unlikely showdown against defending champions Kansas City Chiefs
When superstar quarterback Tom Brady decided he needed “a new challenge” after 20 years steering the relentless juggernaut that was the New England Patriots, most American Football fans thought that was it, old Tom was gently closing the book on his glittering career.
When he announced soon after that he was swapping the most successful side of the NFL’s modern era to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who comfortably occupied a seat among the also-rans, they shook their heads. Money talks.
However. And it is a big ‘however’. Within Brady burns an unextinguishable fire, that hunger for glory that is deep-rooted in all great sport stars. Sure, he was turning his back on a massive franchise where he was revered yet, ultimately, he was only a cog in a formidable machine, engineered by the great coach, Bill Belichick.
So, as a free agent, he set off for new horizons and found the swaggerless Bucs, a sort of Captain Jack Sparrow but on a bad day.
For their part, Tampa – bought in 1995 by the Glazer family, who also own Manchester United – felt they had found the missing piece for their jigsaw: one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history to inspire and shape a team which had misfired since their last Super Bowl success in 2003, enduring barren seasons where they lost more games than they won.
Brady convinced his new bosses to entice former Patriots team-mate rob Gronkowski out of retirement, and for good measure they drafted offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs for extra muscle, and their voyage began … and stops off in Sunday’s Super Bowl 55 showdown against defending champions, the Kansas City Chiefs.
It’s been quite a journey. Brady inherited a rudderless team yet steered them through a stormy start to become the first side to contest the biggest game of the season in their own stadium. And, in a game which loves statistics, it is worth bearing in mind: Brady, at 43, threw 40 touchdown passes in the season – the second highest in the league and his career – as he turned the Bucs around from a 7 (wins), 9 (defeats) campaign to a 11-5 return.
Sunday will be Brady’s 10th Super Bowl, he has won six – a record – and if the Bucs win, he will have won more Super Bowls than any single franchise. He has been named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) three times; and victory against the Chiefs will make him only the second starting quarterback to win the ultimate prize with different teams.
Up against him will be the outstanding Patrick Mahomes, MVP in the Chiefs’ triumph last year, and touted as The Next Big Thing. He is under no illusions: “Being able to go up against one of the greatest, if not the greatest, quarterback of all time is going to be a great experience for me. To repeat (the 2020 win) and get to do it against the best … it’s something special.”
How to watch: Super Bowl LV – Kansas city Chiefs v Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday 11.30 pm GMT. Live on BBC and Radio 5Live from 11pm.
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