American football: Brady seals status as kingmaker of Patriots' dynasty

TOM BRADY, all the laws of his rough trade insist, will one day know a moment that came to Joe Montana - the man against whom he will now be measured every time he steps on to the gridiron.

It was at Candlestick Park, the old wind-blown stadium sticking out into San Francisco Bay, 14 years ago when Montana, bidding for a place in his fifth Super Bowl, was blind-sided by Leonard Marshall of the New York Giants. Later, in the locker-room Montana's skin had the deathly quality of old parchment, and you knew he would never be the same again.

The memory flickered here on Sunday night because Brady, another huge stride along the way to being the new Montana, the new Mr Cool, after his third Super Bowl triumph, was speaking so passionately about about the platform for success he enjoys under the brilliant coaching of the now officially dynastic Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.

You thought of the crushing reality which came to Montana because Brady's life has acquired the full-blown status of an American dream, and such a thing cannot last, surely, in the unremitting pressure of a game in which so many star players cannot face the day without a shot of painkiller.

Brady, though, at 27 years - the youngest age at which a quarterback has ever done so much - seems so immune from risk or crisis in his sporting Camelot.

There were, for example, certain points in Super Bowl XXXIX when the Philadelphia Eagles, a talented, wounded team aching from three successive years of failing one step away from a Super Bowl, seemed they might just be about to smash down the world of Brady and his now hugely celebrated mentor, Belichick.

But each time the coach, who after Sunday's victory has a superior post- season record (10-1) to the legendary Vince Lombardi, had a ruse and Brady had the nerve and the technique to make it work.

Once again, the Patriots triumphed, as they did in 2002 and 2004 against the St Louis Rams and the Carolina Panthers, by a mere three points, yet when the Eagles were beaten, 24-21, an eerie conclusion reached into every corner of the Alltel Stadium.

It was that deep down young Brady had never been imperilled. Later he said: "Why would anyone want to leave a team which has a spirit like this? For months on end, your life is just football, you're up at 6am in the morning, you're working on new schemes, new challenges, and why? Because you want to get to the Super Bowl, you want to be the best. The players here know that they will never get a better chance of winning. You know it cannot last for ever, but you want to hang on to it as long as you can. Coach Belichick understands all the needs of his players. He gives us certainties about what we are doing."

Some cynics believe that before suffering the ambush that befell Montana, Brady will experience another kind of moment of truth - one in which he will ask himself if, after accumulating the Super Bowl rings and all the glory, whether at some point he should also enjoy all the financial rewards due to arguably America's most revered young sportsman. The fact is that under the Patriots' strict salary capping, Brady cannot expect to compete with the rewards already handed out to his Indianapolis Colts rival, Peyton Manning, and still less those of the White Sox slugger Magglio Ordonez, who is reported to have been lured to the Detroit Tigers on a five-year contract paying $75m (pounds 40m).

At what point does the Brady dream impinge on real life? Belichick's key assistants, Charlie Weiss, the offensive co-ordinator, and Romeo Crennel, who is in charge of a superbly pragmatic defence, have paid quite as much homage as Brady to the mystique of the leader Belichick and at the end of Sunday's game the three coaches went into their own emotional huddle. This was partly due, no doubt, to the fact that Weiss this week take up his duties as the coach of Notre Dame University, one of the most fabled assignments in all of American football, and Crennel is considered a certainty to take over the Cleveland Browns.

In an age of free agency and a floating player population, how long can Belichick hold together his empire? "You get through one season. You do your job as best you can, and then you face the future," says Belichick. "Personal ambition is a vital part of the game. I'm just happy that we have something here that seems to attract so many fine players."

Certainly, Brady did not have the monopoly on glory in the Alltel Stadium. The most valuable player award, which he snaffled up in the earlier Super Bowl triumphs, this time went to his inspired wide receiver Deion Branch, who made 11 receptions, some of them stunning in their nerve and precision under fire, which equalled the record of the great Jerry Rice of San Francisco. The linebackers Mike Vrabel, who also scored a touchdown when he switched to the offensive squad, Willie McGinest and Tedy Bruschi all played with unrelenting application and sharpness and the safety Rodney Harrison was a human wrecking ball.

However, the Eagles all-pro safety Michael Lewis had no doubt about the man who had hurt his team most. "Brady killed us just when we thought we might be getting on top. He releases the ball so quickly, he reads off the play in a way that is uncanny. I've no doubt in my mind - he's the best quarterback there is."

It was a verdict from the trenches which can only enhance the burgeoning legend of Tom Brady, the clean-cut successor to Mr Cool. Yet it does not quite dissolve that picture of the huge New York Giant coming out of the blindside

and making Joe Montana feel old. There are no doubt more perilous places than the gridiron to live a dream indefinitely. But perhaps not many.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
Louis van Gaal at the Hawthorns prior to Manchester United's game against West Brom
football

Follow the latest updates from the Monday night Premier League fixture

News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past