[Cued up to the 22:00 mark]
I posted a portion of one of these NFL Draft-a-Thon Live videos last week. But even if you missed it, the format is instantly familiar. It's a Zoom meeting of football greats past and present, a couple of media people and an entertainer or two for some general football adjacent discussion, hijinks and grabassery. Come for the lighthearted ball busting, stay for Mark Wahlberg stepping all over Tom Brady's Dad Joke punchlines like he's talking to one of the Funky Bunch.
In the case of the discussion that starts around that 22:00 mark, Wahlberg (in the Alice square of this particular Brady Bunch opening) says that more than anything, he and Tom and Julian Edelman want 18-1 back. Forgetting of course that in 2007 Edelman was the quarterback of the Kent State Golden Flashes and had no dog in that fight, but whatever. Michael Strahan talks about how he retired right after that game because one ring was enough after 15 years of getting beat up on the defensive line. Brady says the real sin for him was watching Strahan beat him and then go get Regis Philbin's job (a great line I wish I'd been using for the last 16 years). And Patriots Hater Emeritus Shannon Sharpe asks the billion dollar question:
Sharpe: "Would you be willing to trade two Super Bowl rings to win that one Super Bowl? You've gotta trade two for one?"
Brady: "I would."
And then concedes that he'd make that trade even if it meant Strahan retires with two.
Kudos to Sharpe, because that is the best question of his decade or so in television. It's a great philosophical question in that there is no one, true answer, and a great case can be made for either. If you were on a school debate team and the topic was "Two Rings vs. 19-0," you could argue both sides.
More to the point, like all great philosophical discussions, it reveals several greater truths. In this instance: What is it that we truly value? What constitutes true greatness? What do we prize that makes another person immortal in our eyes?
When you think about it, the Hall of Fame is lousy with legends of the game who won two Super Bowls. Terrell Davis (78 career games, 55th on the all time rushing list) being a recent example. His ticket to Football Valhalla was punched the moment his Broncos won their second in a row.
So would a reasonable person be willing to subtract a Hall of Fame-caliber career's worth of success from his own accomplishments in order to have won less but add one achievement no one else has? To trade the immortality of seven rings for five rings, but one of those a perfect season?
It's far from an easy question. But it speaks to just how much that 18-1 game still haunts every waking steps of every Patriots fan who lived it. (Plus Edelman, if Marky Mark is right.) Even all these years - and three more championships - later, and we're still not over it. I know I look at the six banners hanging above the corner of Gillette opposite the lighthouse every time I'm down there and ask myself what would I give up to get Super Bowl XLII up there. And I thank God they took down the 16-0 banner as soon as they did because looking at it physically hurt. It was like getting tased in the eyeballs. So I'm glad to know the GOAT has struggled with the same deep, existential quandary.
And, he reached the same conclusion I have. I would willingly sacrifice two of Tom Brady's championships in order to have the 19-0 Super Bowl in their place. Beginning with the ring he won in Tampa. After that, it's Brady's choice. Just know that I'm willing to give up something to get something, like a reasonable man.
Sorry to all those kids from impoverished countries who grew up wearing free 19-0 shirts, but my world would be a better place if they were given NY Giants Super Bowl XLII Champions shirts instead.
P.S. On the Helmet Catch, Richard Seymour was blatantly held by Shaun O'Hara and STILL had Eli Manning in the grasp. The play should've been flagged and blown dead. Come to think of it, I'll Brady's next Tampa Super Bowl in as well.