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Brady vs. Mahomes: Why Legacies are at Stake in the Super Bowl

The story of Super Bowl LV is simple: Tom Brady versus Patrick Mahomes. Sure, two quarterbacks who will never share the field together won’t quite decide whether the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Kansas City ultimately win. Perhaps KC’s insane offensive line prevents Mahomes from getting a shot. Maybe the Tampa Bay defense will take over. Maybe one of the many star receivers in the game shines. But let’s be honest: this year’s Super Bowl will be remembered for its quarterbacks. In one corner is the 43-year-old Tom Brady, a six-time champion who, to the surprise of some, left New England – the only NFL home he had ever known for 20 seasons – to start over in Florida. In the other corner is 25-year-old Patrick Mahomes, the reigning champion who signed a 10-year contract extension with Kansas City for $ 503 million in the off-season. Mahomes, who won MVP in his first season as a starter and Super Bowl MVP in his second, is considered by many to be the next challenger to Brady’s claim to be the greatest quarterback of all time. CLOCK | Tom Brady is fighting for the 7th title in Super Bowl LV: If Mahomes’ team, which is favored to win, gets through, he will be four Super Bowls behind Brady’s career sum. But if Brady wins his staggering seventh place at 43, the void will become nearly impossible for Mahomes to bridge. Imagine if Michael Jordan had ever stared at LeBron James in an NBA final. The never-ending GOAT debate would have a lot more clarity. “The Super Bowl is the Super Bowl. Playing against one of the greatest, if not the greatest quarterback of all time, in your 150th Super Bowl is going to be a great experience for me,” Mahomes said on Monday, sarcastically pointing to Bradys Preference for appearing in the NFL’s biggest game. The story of the band Brady and Mahomes have faced each other twice, with each winning once. Their marquee matchup took place two seasons ago in the AFC championship game when Brady was still a patriot. In that game, New England took a 14-0 lead, with Kansas City failing to score in the first half. But Mahomes flipped the script in the second quarter and led his team to 31 points, including three touchdowns and the game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter. When a controversial offside call against KC negated Brady’s interception at the end of the game, the game went to OT. On the extra edge, the Patriots won the coin toss and immediately marched for a touchdown. Mahomes never got the ball. Advantage: Brady (despite two picks on Mahomes’ zero). The second matchup took place in November when Mahomes put KC 17-0 up and Brady’s comeback attempt failed three points in the second half. While Brady’s line of 345 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions was nice, Mahomes responded with a whopping 462 yards, three points, and no picks. Advantage: Mahomes (despite the strangely calm finish). But don’t call Super Bowl LV the grudge game: Brady recently left the door open to play after 45. Brady, selected from Michigan in the sixth round in the 2000 Draft, won Super Bowls as a starter in two of his first three seasons – an achievement never matched unless Mahomes wins on Sunday. He spent 20 seasons in New England with future Hall of Fame coach Bill Belichick. Brady and Belichick were inextricably linked – until the former flew to Tampa Bay. A seventh Super Bowl would retrospectively give Brady more credit for the first six. It turned out that Belichick didn’t need to reach Super Bowls. Regardless, Brady’s résumé is flawless. Three MVPs, 14 Pro Bowls, an NFL record of 581 touchdowns, the second all-time in passing yards. A one-way ticket to the Hall of Fame. He has played nine Super Bowls and won two-thirds of them in sometimes incredible ways (see the 2017 comeback 28-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons). Mahomes’ challenger to the throne is now 44-9 – including 6-1 in the playoffs – as an NFL starter. Kansas City scored 31 or more points in all but one of those playoff games, and in the one game that didn’t, Mahomes left the third quarter injured. In the regular season, Mahomes has already put together 14,152 overtaking places and 114 touchdowns. He’s also added 808 yards with his legs – within 200 of Brady’s 21-year total. On the surface, Mahomes is more talented than Brady ever was. He’s got a stronger arm and more agility, and his dizzying array of arm angles (you may have heard his father was an MLB pitcher) fully shows his athleticism. Brady is one of the brightest QBs of all time who knows how to tear apart a defense with quick, short passes in his later years. The move to the privateers renewed his deep attack, and blessed him with the best recipients he lacked at the end of his time in New England. CLOCK | Bring It In’s Super Bowl Preview: Brady has the chance to become the first QB to win a Super Bowl at home on Sunday If you ever play 18 percent of Super Bowls, that’s almost going to happen. He has a chance to reaffirm his status as leader of the Patriotic Dynasty as more than a product of Belichick. At 43, he was already defying the chances of playing football, but winning a Super Bowl at that age would be an entirely different story. He’s already cemented his GOAT status, but a win on Sunday would take him to an almost unattainable level. In his own way, Mahomes is a possible heir to the throne who may only have one shot to dwarf Brady with a win on Sunday. Mahomes has the chance to rewrite NFL history. Super Bowl LV is about legacies.

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