Jan 13, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) warms up before the AFC divisional round playoff game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Playoffs: Stars Nearly Alligned for Tom Brady to Ride Off Into the Sunset

There are few competitors in any sport as intense as Tom Brady. Winning is what drives him. It seems to be the only thing that drives him.

That, however, is only what we can see on the surface.

I have a feeling that if you were to peel back the layers of Brady’s persona and surgeon-like focus, you’d see a man who is also driven by the legacy he’ll leave behind. Like Peyton Manning, Brady is a student of the game’s history. He is well aware of the meaning and historical impact of every record he breaks.

The record he broke on Sunday means a lot to him.

With New England’s win over Houston, Brady broke Joe Montana’s all-time playoff win mark. That record is significant on its own, but made even more so due to the fact that Brady grew up rooting for the San Francisco 49ers and idolizing Joe Montana. Not many people who walk this earth get to eclipse their idol in any way.

There is another mark Montana owns, along with Terry Bradshaw, that Brady would love to equal — Super Bowl wins. Brady has three, they have four.

A Super Bowl appearance by Brady would put him No. 1 all-time in that category. A win would put him side by side with his childhood idol in the most prestigious category in professional football. He’d have the most playoff wins, most Super Bowl appearances and be tied for the most Super Bowl wins of all-time. None of that takes into account that should all of that occur, there is currently a 50 percent chance it would be done against, of all teams, the San Francisco 49ers.

You can’t write a storybook ending any better than that. Yes — I said ending.

In the years since Brady’s last Super Bowl win; he has admitted how difficult it is just to win one, let alone four. A fourth title on top of all of his other accomplishments might be enough to make Brady think about how he wants to be remembered. He’ll be 36 years old if he plays next season, the same age Peyton Manning was this year. Manning turned in the second best season of his career with arguably the best defense he’s ever had as his security blanket. He still fell short of a championship.

Brady saw that. It had to resonate with him.

Other than Manning, no NFL player is more financially stable and marketable in life after football as Tom Brady. He has turned his name into an empire. His wife has done the same. He could sit on boards of major companies, run for political office, act, model, commentate, coach or even as his idol Joe Montana has done, disappear from the public eye altogether. Basically, the world is his whenever he wants it. What better way to walk away from one life or career and into a second one on top as you pass the man and beat the team that inspired this incredible journey? I can’t think of one.

The problem, and in reality, the only thing that makes me second guess my theory is that Brady probably can.

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  • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

    I look at Tom Brady differently, and I think of him as the ultra-competitive guy in the Larry Bird mold (to bring up another Boston legend) who will want to stay in the game for as long as his body lets him in order to win as many championships as possible. You can tell that Brady wants to help out this franchise as much as he can, and I don’t think he’s going to (or even should) retire at the end of this season. His body can definitely hold up for at least a few more years, and Brady just seems like one of those Bird-like legends.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/VO6K6KN5ZMKI2ZKEJVGSZUCUMY John

      Agreed Brady is master of moving the chains with shoirt quick passing game. You do not need huge arm strength for that and he doesnt take as many hits as most QBs. Favre played until 40 (albeit after his sell by date), but Brady style is more suited to playing until 40. It mostly cerebral and that will only get better

      • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

        Yeah, accuracy, intelligence, and pocket awareness are traits that don’t decline with age, and those are the traits that define Brady. Aside from that, players in their 40s can still sling the ball effectively. As we see with the big-boppers in the MLB, strength doesn’t exactly deteriorate quickly either. The only thing that does is speed, but that’s irrelevant for almost every QB (especially Brady). I think he can play until 40, and he’s never suffered any significant injuries of the “nagging” type either.

  • Aryan

    I do not think Tom Brady isn´t really a guy who looks at records that much. I don´t think any of the Patriots players really are. Bill Belichick´s entire philosophy is that is team game won by the team and not a single player. Tom Brady really embodies that . I think he will stay as long as he can help the team. He won´t leave just because it being a nice way to finish. Brady wants to win and help the team every week and until he or the team thinks he can´t do that anymore Brady is not going anywhere

  • http://www.facebook.com/liam.mcknight.35 Liam Mcknight

    i dont see him retiring no matter what happens. i see 3 more years after this one, he knows this team is young and getting better and i think he’ll want to mentor his successor for some reason, i just see him wanting to teach the guy that will eventually replace him so he isnt looked at spitefully like montana or favre with how they acted towards their successor’s
    peyton didnt get a chance in indy, which is a damn shame and a poor reflection on their franchise

  • http://www.facebook.com/liam.mcknight.35 Liam Mcknight

    Does anyone think Matthew Slater could run a deep route and be successful at it as a reciever? He’s a smart player and he’s extremely fast, fastest player on the team in terms of 40 time other than maybe mccourty or talib….. he’s 6′ tall and works his a$$ off. i’d like to see him get a chance even if it is happening late for him, it happened for troy brown and worked out pretty well.
    I’d really like to see Slater get a chance as a reciever at some point. deep slant or post or go route, just another weapon to worry about and he’s just as fast and quick as lloyd, bout the same size too, lloyd didnt get a chance until about age 27 either. i’d like to see it, i root for matthew slater!

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      I love Slater, and this would be an interesting project for the offseason when going into training camp. I don’t think the Pats are going to be mixing things up this late, but it’s an interesting idea. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? It doesn’t work out in the preseason? I’m not as high on Slater as you are, but I’m all for giving a guy another chance.

      • http://www.facebook.com/liam.mcknight.35 Liam Mcknight

        yea it’d be cool to see him go out there and catch a deep ball or two, i mean stallworth did it right off the rip in his first game with us this year… and i remember guys like bethel johnson and chad jackson getting chances with it (successfully for bethel), even brandon tate….. there is no replacement for speed and Slater is the fastest guy on the team other than maybe mccourty or talib