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If the 2020 NFL season was supposed to be a test of Tom Brady’s greatness, the quarterback passed with flying colors. With Jameis Winston under center, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers failed to make the playoffs; now, despite some early struggles, the team is headed to the Super Bowl.

Although no one in the Buccaneers organization is taking their eye off the prize, winning the NFC title provided a brief moment for reflection. It was in that context that Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians paid Tom Brady the ultimate compliment.

Tom Brady was tasked with turning the Tampa Bay Buccaneers around and did just that

When he decided to leave New England, Tom Brady was placing (some of) his legacy on the line; while a single season couldn’t undo a legendary career, falling flat without Bill Belichick would have taken a little bit of the shine off things. In Tampa Bay, though, the quarterback proved the doubters wrong.

When the Buccaneers landed Brady, their thinking was clear. The veteran, they hoped, would stabilize the offense, help create a winning culture, and lift everyone around him. At the risk of painting everything with a broad narrative-based brush, that’s exactly what happened.

Although there were some growing pains during the regular season, the Buccaneers and Brady are now heading to the Super Bowl. While the quarterback might not have been at his vintage best—you could cynically argue that he deserved to lose to Green Bay and was bailed out by a combination of his defense and Matt LeFleur—conference championships don’t come with asterisks.

Bruce Arians just paid his quarterback the ultimate compliment

During their brief time together, Bruce Arians hasn’t been afraid to take some shots at Tom Brady. During the playoffs, though, he seems to have changed his tune.

Following the Buccaneers’ divisional-round victory over the Saints, Arians called Brady a “consummate leader” and even said that he allows the quarterback “to coach” the team. While it’s not clear how literal he was being, the head coach’s message was undeniable: this quarterback is doing more than just throwing the football. After clinching the NFC title, however, the head coach doubled down and gave Brady an even bigger compliment.

“The belief [Brady] gave to this organization that it could be done,” Arians said after the game, according to Peter Schrager. “It only took one man.”

Yes, you read that correctly. In a sport where coaches love to preach collective responsibility and the triumph of the team over the individual, Arians highlighted his quarterback as the “one man” who got the Bucs believing they could do something special.

While discussing things like leadership and belief can get dangerously close to sports cliches, great players are the ones who can lift an entire team to the next level. Based on both the Buccaneers’ success and Bruce Arians’ quotes, Tom Brady has apparently done just that in Tampa Bay.

Tom Brady and Bruce Arians will face another tough test in the Super Bowl

By leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into the Super Bowl during his first season in Florida, Tom Brady has added another achievement to his already-impressive resume. Earning the final win to claim the Lombardi Trophy, however, won’t be as easy as showing up and waiting for 60 minutes to run off the clock.

With all due respect to the Washington Football Team, the New Orleans Saints, and the Green Bay Packers, the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense seems to be a step above everyone else. While Tampa Bay does have a tough defense, they’re elite against stopping that run; that will making things harder for Andy Reid’s offense but, when you have Patrick Mahomes under center, you’re not going to be too reliant on the ground game.

It’s also worth noting that the Chiefs’ defense is run by Steve Spagnuolo, who knows a thing or two about stopping Tom Brady in a big game.

By getting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into the Super Bowl, Tom Brady showed that he was more than just a product of Bill Belichick’s system. If he can cap the campaign off with a championship, though, there will be no questioning his place in history.


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