We are now a couple of weeks past the Super Bowl, and of course, I watched. I’m not a big Bucs fan, but since I’m a transplant from New England to Florida, I follow the team a bit. More this past year than since I moved here, and that is because of the goat.
When you grow up in New England, especially in the late ’60s onward and you like sports, you grew up watching about the best teams and some of the best players. Not just for a while but all time.
The RedSox have been around 100 years and almost always competitive. They had many great players and, without a doubt, the best hitter in history; Ted Williams was a bit before my time, but my dad watched him, and I have read a few books on him. Williams is the last 400 hitter. Nobody will ever hit 400 again. My god, the guy hit a walk-off home run in his last career at-bat.
The Celtics, well, that should say all you need to know 11 titles in 13 seasons 1957 – 1969. Forget it; this will never be done again in any sport. The Celtics have had so much greatness; picking one is impossible, picking two is impossible, but Larry Bird and Bill Russell stand out. Russell, like Williams, was just before my time, but I did read about him. This guy was the anchor of the team. Today they talk as if 10 -15 rebounds a game is monumental; Russell averaged 20+ for a career! Then you have Larry Bird; the draft was changed because of him. Together with Magic Johnson, they saved the NBA. Larry Bird is not considered the greatest player of all time but in the top 5 easy and at the very top in the Celtics.
The Bruins. Nothing more needs to be said here, Bobby Orr. He is considered by just about everybody the greatest player of all time. He has only two peers, Gretzky and Howe, and they both agree it is Orr. Bobby Orr revolutionized the game. He was the first defenseman to lead the league in scoring twice. It will be done again. He did that while winning 8 Norris trophies in a row for best defenseman. Nobody has 8. We can go on and on, but this is indisputable. They asked Larry bird what he is looking at when the anthem is playing while staring at the ceiling, and he said Bobby Orr’s retired number.
At one point in the mid-’90s, they had all these greats together for a photoshoot and tv special. Sitting there and listening to these guys talk was like seeing the holy trinity for a sports fan. Today that show would have to be altered for the goat.
Last the patriots for 40 years; this team was a bit of a joke. They had a few sparks and a couple of token Super Bowl appearances only to get destroyed. That all changed with the 199th pick of the 2000 draft. Nobody picked at that level, never mind a quarterback should even last in the NFL and certainly should never be the GOAT, but here we are. Over the next 20 years, if you lived in New England and liked sports or loved football, you were truly spoiled. The patriots, over 20 years, became the most dominant team in the history of the NFL, not even close. To try and list the team and Brady’s accomplishments would require a post alone. It was about this time last year I predicted Brady would leave the Patriots. I just believed that Belichick wanted to prove he could do it without Brady, and Brady could do it without Belichick. Also, at 43 and knowing how Belichick managed players and money, it made business sense due to Brady’s age to move on. Belichick guessed wrong this time. This does not mean The patriots would have been this good without Brady or with Brady and not Belichick; they went together and changed the team dynamic for two decades.
This brings me back full circle now to growing up in New England and our sporting legends. If you were to list them all, and I covered the iconic ones here, then Bobby Orr stood alone in greatness. He was the gold standard. Bobby Orr was above all. Even I can’t believe I’m saying this, but that title has now passed, Tom Brady has supplanted Bobby Orr. Brady stands alone at the top of the New England sporting mountain. At 43, Brady has done for thee Bucs what he did for the Patriots 20 years ago; he made them champions, changed the team culture, and made the team relevant. Tom Brady is the GOAT.