The Super Bowl and legacies go hand-in-hand like chocolate and peanut butter, like beer and football, or like heartbreak and Taylor Swift. In meme culture, it’s the equivalent to the muscled-up arms doing the epic handshake thing. It all just connects in a perfect, harmonious way.
You can’t really go any bigger in terms of legacies this year. On one sideline is Tom Brady, the only six-time Super Bowl champion the NFL has ever known and on the other is Patrick Mahomes, the 25-year-old sensation who already has one MVP, one Super Bowl ring, one Super Bowl MVP, and a 50 passing touchdown season on his resume.
The NFL’s branding of “The GOAT vs. The Kid” couldn’t be more on point. The popular thought —and it’s a logical one at this point in time— is that Mahomes will eventually challenge and/or take over Brady’s position as the best of all-time. This is attainable with the current trajectory at hand and Super Bowl LV will have a long way to go in determining both player’s legacies.
As it should.
But in an overall team sense, the Bucs have a chance to do something special themselves. Not only do they have a chance at beating the defending champs, but they also have a shot at stopping (or at least slowing down) what it looks to be a dynasty-in-the-making in terms of the Chiefs.
Brady knows what it’s like to be in this position and he also knows what it’s like to win this type of game. The Patriots defeated the Seahawks back in Super Bowl XLIX and denied Russell Wilson and co. a chance at back-to-back titles and a shot at a dynasty. The Seahawks were never the same afterward and still haven’t reached the big game since Malcolm Butler ended the game in the Patriots end zone.
The Bucs said “no more” to Drew Brees and kept Aaron Rodgers from strengthening his own legacy.
Now, they have a chance to deny Mahomes and the Chiefs their place in NFL history.
It’s not all about the Chiefs, either. Tampa Bay is already the fifth team to win three playoff games on the road en route to a Super Bowl appearance. There’s also a chance to become just the fourth team to win a Super Bowl after winning three road playoff games. The 2005 Steelers, 2007 Giants, and 2010 Packers are the only teams to accomplish said feat.
Another Lombardi Trophy in Raymond James stadium would also make Tampa Bay just the 12th team to hoist the trophy more than once. Two Super Bowls, with the second being a win over the almighty Chiefs, would certainly help elevate the legacy of the franchise that owns the league’s worst all-time winning percentage.
And the Bucs get a chance to do this on their turf. In their home. For the first time, ever, in league history.
“Football, to me, is much more than just a sport,” Brady told reporters on Monday. “There’s the physical element, there’s the mental approach – how you’re going to get the job done – and there’s the emotional part. All of those things I’ve found ways to evolve at different times so that I could maximize my potential. I think for an individual player like myself, as a quarterback, it’s never about what I do, it’s really always about what we do. Because so much of it is being on the same page with my teammates – with the receivers, the tight ends, the offensive line, the coaches. Part of the success and the enjoyment of the success is being able to enjoy that success with everybody. Because everybody plays a critical role and there’s nothing you can accomplish in football without the support of the entire team.
I chose team sports for a reason: because I love having teammates, I love sharing those experiences with those guys and I love seeing those guys reach their potential. I think for an older athlete like myself, so much of the enjoyment comes from me helping others too. That’s probably why I’m still doing it. It’s not about me, Tom Brady, it’s about us, the Bucs, and what we can accomplish. We’ve just got to go finish the deal. It’s been a great year thus far. I’ve learned a lot about myself, learned a lot about my teammates. But we’ve got a chance now to go accomplish the ultimate goal and we’re four quarters away. It’s going to take a great effort. We’re playing a great team – another team that I think has a lot of those things and they’re doing it the right way and it’s going to be a great challenge.”
Us. The Bucs. Team.
That’s the type of mentality that creates a winning culture. It’s the type of mentality that separates the great franchises from the good ones.
And it’s the type of mentality that should earn the Bucs a second Super Bowl on Sunday.