I’ve never been a Tom Brady fan and I don’t mind saying that. My interest in Michigan football actually started with the rematch to the “Miracle in Michigan” I was fortunate enough to attend, which the Wolverines won with a 27-0 shutout when Brian Griese was the starting QB, in front of a sellout crowd of over 100,000 at “The Big House.” Shortly thereafter I actually wound up living in Michigan for a few years when Griese’s replacements Drew Henson and the aforementioned Brady were fighting for the starting QB job at the University of Michigan. I was in close enough proximity to Ann Arbor that most of my peers were Wolverines fans, so accidentally or intentionally I wound up following the drama about who’d be the starter each week.

I actually thought Henson was the better QB at the time. History proved me wrong.

History proved me wrong again on February 5, 2017. I had maintained up until that point in many arguments that Brady could not be considered the greatest quarterback of all time. He had not won more Super Bowls than Terry Bradshaw or Joe Montana. He had not eclipsed Peyton Manning in either most career yards thrown or most touchdowns completed in a single season. Any time the debate came up I could give you a list of reasons why Brady did not deserve the G.O.A.T. title compared to his peers, and Deflategate only increased my suspicion that Brady was not a credible recipient for that title. I side-eyed him just like I did in Michigan. Who did this California kid really think he is? What did he even do to win the Wolverines the National Championship? Nothing. He was a backup on the bench. He’s not hot s#%t like he thinks.

Turns out he is hot s#%t though. I was wrong then, and on Sunday I was wrong again.

So here’s to you, Mr. Brady. You’re a four time Super Bowl MVP, you’ve now got enough championship rings to bling out an entire hand, and even though I think you hid evidence from the NFL by destroying your phone, I think there’s even more clear evidence that you actually DON’T need to cheat. Some will say that the Atlanta Falcons imploded on a drive where they could have kicked a game winning field goal. Some will say that the Patriots defense finally showed up in the second half when they seemingly took the first half off and that they deserve the credit – not you. But hey whether I like the Patriots or not (I never have and I never will) you’ve done the things nobody else could do and earned the title “Comeback Kid” like no other quarterback I’ve seen play the game. I’ve been watching this game a long time. If we start with the “Super Bowl Shuffle” as the timeline point for my love of football, I’ve cared about the outcome of the NFL’s biggest game for over 30 years now. Coincidentally that was the year my beloved Bears trounced the Patriots, who I hated for no other reason than they were the opposition to Chicago’s finest. Sweetness had to dance, that punky QB named McMahon had to pass, and those other guys just had to show up so Chicago could “Bear Down” and whup ass. That they did.

I think after all this time I can finally admit that the Patriots of 2017 are not the Patriots of 1986. I still don’t like ’em though and I whether I respect him or not I just don’t like Tom Brady. There’s something about Brady that just rubs me the wrong way that has since the very first time I laid eyes on him in Ann Arbor. He’s good though. He’s better than good. Reluctantly and begrudgingly after watching that miraculous fourth quarter comeback, forcing the first overtime in Super Bowl history, then completing one last drive to win it all, he probably is the best ever. He may not own all of the records in all of the categories but to be the man you’ve got to beat the man, and five times out of seven nobody has been able to beat him. Maybe he can retire now and my respect will be a little less begrudging. How many more rings can he need at this point anyway? Let somebody else get a little bling.