CANTON, Ohio — Fans who wanted to see Tom Brady on Sunday could go one place the New England Patriots quarterback surely belongs.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A visit to the hallowed shrine during the NFL’s opening day showed just how much Brady has acheived and meant to the league during his 16 seasons, no matter what his detractors might believe about his alleged involvement in Deflategate. And while Brady must sit out four games because of the NFL’s ruling in that scandal, the Hall of Fame rightly features No. 12 throughout its displays.
FIRST TO 50
Fans entering the Hall are greeted by an NFL history timeline, which includes an ode to Brady’s 2007 season, in which he threw a then-league-record 50 touchdown passes.
Peyton Manning broke the mark six years later, but that doesn’t make Brady’s accomplishment any less impressive.
ALL HE DOES IS WIN
Next up is the Dynasties exhibit, highlighted by a familiar face that sometime in the future will be included among the bronze busts down the hallway.
Two items featured are a Brady jersey worn during his 2007 NFL MVP season and a fitting summation of the Patriots’ recent dominance.
Near the Dynasties display is a collection of articles related to teams that have achieved perfection. It’s no surprise the 2007 Patriots, who posted the only 16-0 regular season in NFL history, can be found there, with a team picture.
There’s Brady, sitting right in front of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, president Jonathan Kraft and coach Bill Belichick, with a big smile.
That smile would’ve been bigger if … well, you know.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
By now, everyone knows Brady’s underdog story. This simple draft card, which the Patriots smartly turned in 16 years ago, deserves to be framed, as it is in this display.
HAVIN’ A BALL
Nothing makes Brady happier than winning championships. In the Hall’s Super Bowl display, visitors can see two game balls signed by the man himself.
A picture of Brady in his first Super Bowl and of him with Belichick, as well as copies of the four Super Bowl rings they’ve won together, are just steps away.
NOT DONE YET
A reminder that Brady still is going strong comes near the draft card. Sitting on a pedestal is the ball Brady threw last season for his 421st touchdown pass, placing him ahead of Dan Marino for third on the NFL’s all-time list.
Just below that ball is the jersey Brady wore while throwing his 400th career TD pass, which also happened last season.
What milestones will Brady acheive this season? We’ll begin to find out Oct. 9, when he returns from his suspension to face the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium — just 60 miles north of the Hall.