Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady versus Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, a sports debate come to life.
More than a Lombardi Trophy is up for grabs in Super Bowl LV on Sunday. This is about a clash of eras, with the Lord of the Rings — Brady has a record six of them — looking to keep the greatest threat to the crown at bay.
So monumental is the quarterback matchup in this game that CBS analyst Tony Romo had to reach outside the sport for an apt analogy to describe the showdown at the most important position on the field. He turned to the NBA.
“Could you imagine if Michael Jordan got his team to the Finals in ‘98 or when he was older, against a young LeBron James, who’s really the face of the league?” Romo said. “It would be the greatest thing in the history of sports. I think we might actually have that Super Bowl. We might have that game. It just has never happened.”
It’s a game written in the superstars, football’s answer to Jack Nicklaus vs. Tiger Woods.
Mahomes, 25, is looking to become the first quarterback to lead his franchise to back-to-back Super Bowl victories since Brady guided the New England Patriots to consecutive titles in 2003 and ‘04.
Brady, 43, who joined the Buccaneers in the most celebrated signing of the 2020 off-season, will add another first to his historic career as the first quarterback to play a Super Bowl in his home stadium.
And there’s no one better suited to call this game than legendary play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz, who knows both of these quarterbacks better than anyone on the national scene. After all, CBS has basically run its operation out of Kansas City in recent years, considering how dominant the Chiefs have been, and Brady spent the past two decades playing in the centre of the AFC universe.
When it comes to covering Brady, Nantz has lapped the field, having called about 100 games in which Brady was the quarterback. They’re even golf buddies in the off-season.
“This team may be uniquely qualified to be the ones that, just by blind luck, had this Super Bowl fall under our watch,” Nantz said. “Because, yes, we’re the AFC network, and for three years now we’ve seen many Kansas City games, I can’t give you the exact number, and, yes, you go back through the years with exposures to Tom, and on top of that we had the regular-season matchup between these teams. So, hey, it’s funny how it works out.”
This CBS A-Team — Nantz and Romo with Tracy Wolfson as sideline reporter — is working its second Super Bowl, having made its debut as a combination two years ago when the Rams played New England in Atlanta.
“It had the makings of being this electrifying, high-scoring affair between Sean McVay, this boy-genius coach, and the high-powered Rams offence, and Brady and company,” Nantz said.
The game turned out to be a 13-3 slog, a scrappy victory by the Patriots and the lowest-scoring Super Bowl on record.
“We had one play in the entire game that was run inside of the red zone,” Nantz said. “That’s almost — I still wish someone would statistically look that up — has that ever happened before?
“So why do I say that? Well, I look at this [year’s] matchup, that’s impossible. That won’t happen here. That can’t happen here. It will not happen here. This game is — hold your breath. There’s going to be a big highlight coming at you every couple of minutes.”
It might seem wildly premature to compare Mahomes, who has one ring, to Brady, whose success is unparalleled. But Romo rolls the film forward and sees this as a touchstone moment people will refer to years down the road.
This matchup is an argument settler.
“Brady, I promise you, shuts the door if he wins this game,” Romo said. “There’s almost no way you could ever argue, if Tom Brady at 43 years old, turning back Father Time, beating Patrick Mahomes … the only guy who could possibly climb the ladder.
“If Tom Brady closes that in this game, I just don’t see some human being ever competing in 10 Super Bowls, winning seven, and being able to say you’re better than Tom Brady.
“This game is a legacy game. If Patrick Mahomes wins, he keeps that door open. If he loses, I don’t know how you climb it.”