The best play of Tom Brady’s day against the New Orleans Saints Sunday night wasn’t his short TD passes to Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette, nor his one-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown.
Shortly after Brady had changed, showered and addressed reporters following the Tampa Bay Bucs’ 30-20 playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints, Brady stepped onto the field again at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans to find an old friend and competitor:
Brees, who likely reached the end of the road after a distinguished NFL career, was savoring the final scene with his family. He was in street clothes, spending time with his children alongside his wife Brittany. The kids were throwing the ball around along the end zone, horsing around, having fun, while Brees and Brittany watched.
That’s when Brady approached.
Brady wanted to say goodbye properly beyond the usual quick post-game hi and byes.
Brady is moving onto the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game next week. Brees is moving on to the inevitable: very likely hanging it up after a 20-year career highlighted by a Super Bowl title and accolades that include a two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
Now 42, Brees is a tad younger than Brady, 43. That’s a combined 85 years of brilliance. We’ll note the obligatory Growing Bolder reference.
But no one was talking statistics late Sunday night in the Superdome.
It was the ultimate show of respect. Family first, with game scores relevant but never the thing that defines one’s legacy.
Both men deserve a standing ovation.
Well-played Mr. Brady.