By Tony Hooker
the quality of being great, distinguished, or eminent.
I’m as guilty as the next guy of throwing the word around. How was your evening? “It was great!” When in reality I was sitting in my living room, watching cop shows. Not a bad night, certainly, but in reality, not even in the neighborhood of greatness.
What was great was the fact that I shared the evening with my family. My family is great. The best thing this flawed old soul has ever produced, in fact.
Which brings me to the source of my pondering, this week. Last Sunday, I feel that those who watched the AFC and NFC championship games were blessed to see two greats at opposite ends of their careers.
At 25, Patrick Mahomes has been NFL MVP, Super Bowl MVP and Superbowl champion Quarterback. In his first season as a starter, he joined some guy named Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks to throw for 5000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a season, and he was recognized by Sports Illustrated Magazine as one of their Sportspersons of the year in 2020 for his work in encouraging voter registration in the community. To top it off, his 15 & the Mahomies charity is a sponsor of dozens of worthy causes, especially those that impact the lives and health of children. The $477 million dollar contract he signed, which could go up to $503 million with bonuses? Yeah, that’s pretty great also.
In the NFC title game, Tom Brady, once again was in the spotlight. I’m going to be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest Brady fan. He went to Michigan. (strike one) He played in nine Super Bowls with the Patriots, who have been shown to push the limits of the rules. Apparently, his GI Joe Kung Fu grip skills are lacking, because he had his equipment guys under inflate his game balls so that he could get a better handle on them. (strike two) He married a Brazilian Supermodel who makes as much money as he does. (strike three, purely out of jealousy) With all of that being said, including a brief glimpse at the pettiness that is yours truly, he is undoubtedly the most successful QB of all time. three MVP’s. After beating the Packers, (something which earned him major points with this Bears fan) he will be appearing in his tenth Super Bowl next Sunday. According to Wikipedia, he is the NFL leader in passing yards, passing TD’s, games started as a QB (299) and wins as a starting QB (263). What? His record as a starting QB is 263-36? He’s won a record four Super Bowl MVPs, and he’s tied (with that Manning guy) for most Pro Bowl appearances. All this from a guy who was selected with the 199th pick in the draft, a slight that still motivates him to this day. As a nod, his film production company is called 199 productions. He’s happily married with three kids, including one son from his relationship with Bridget Moynahan, with whom he co-parents. He’s raised $46 million dollars in support of Best Buddies International, an organization that is “dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and physical disabilities”, according to their web site. By any reasonable measure, TB12 has to be considered the G.O.A.T.
What’s not great, of course, is the fact that my Bears could have drafted Mahomes in 2017. They took Mitch Trubisky instead. They could have drafted Tom Brady in 2000. They took Brian Urlacher, Mike Brown, Dez White, Reggie Austin, Frank Murphy and a kicker named Paul Edinger instead. They could have tried to sign Brady as a free agent before the current season, but rolled the dice on Mitch, once again. Sigh. Definitely not great.
For those of us who love sports, and if you’re still reading this, you must, this week’s big game holds massive intrigue. Will the old lion be able to stave off his up and coming challenger, or will it be time for a new leader on Pride Rock? Regardless of the outcome, it should be a great game.