FOXBORO, Mass. — Tom Brady is without question the most popular and successful athlete in this generation of Boston sports.
The New England Patriots quarterback has given football fans in the region the longest sustained period of excellence in team history. The Pats have won four Super Bowls, six AFC championships and have made 10 AFC title game appearances since 2001. They’ve also won more regular-season games than any other NFL team in that span. The franchise won zero titles and made just two AFC title game appearances before Brady arrived in 2000.
For these reasons, he’s often mentioned in the same breath as other Boston sports legends, most notably Larry Bird and Bobby Orr. While it’s nice to be associated with those Hall of Famers, Brady isn’t too worried about his place on the Mt. Rushmore of Boston sports.
His career and legacy still are being written.
“I think I?m still in the middle of things and I still feel like I have a lot more football left,” Brady said before Thursday’s practice at Gillette Stadium. “So, I don?t think about those things too often.”
He did admit it’s quite an honor to be in that class, though.
“Absolutely. I think those guys are in a different category,” Brady said. “I certainly looked up to a lot of heroes of mine being in California. And obviously, Larry Bird was so spectacular, so being here for a long time, absolutely, I feel like I?m a Bostonian.”
Brady has the potential to add another championship this season. The Patriots will make back-to-back Super Bowl appearances if they beat the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.
Brady’s six Super Bowl appearances already are the most ever by an NFL quarterback, and another ring would give him the most titles by a quarterback, surpassing Pittsburgh Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw and Brady’s boyhood idol Joe Montana.
Another championship also might put Brady above anyone else in the history of Boston sports. That said, it’s unlikely anyone will surpass Boston Celtics center Bill Russell. He won 11 NBA championships in a 13-year span from 1957 through 1969, the last two of which he also served as head coach.
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images