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Tom Brady: Super Bowl LI wasnt my best game ever

Tom Brady: Super Bowl LI wasnt my best game ever
Published On: Mon, Feb 13
January 25, 2014; Honolulu, HI, USA; Oakland Raiders fullback Marcel Reece (45) signs autographs during the 2014 Pro Bowl Ohana Day at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This was the most amazing thing about the two hours I spent with 39-year-old Tom Brady on Sunday afternoon in a cabin (well, its called a cabin, but the getaway area for the Brady clan is pretty darned well-appointed) in the shadow of one of the most beautiful mountains in the world:

I have zero pain, Brady said, almost one week to the hour after he took the field for Super Bowl 51. I feel great. I feel 100 percent.

Brady had a zen look to him on a brilliant afternoon in Big Sky country. Clear eyes, zero bloodshot. Placid. No limping, no wincing, which took me by surprise after Atlantas five sacks and nine significant hits of Brady in the game. And theres this: Brady has played 261 NFL games, and never has he taken as many (99) snaps as he did against Atlanta. But when we talked, he looked like hed been relaxing for a month"not just having arrived here Saturday from a hectic post-Super Bowl week in Boston. He went skiing Sunday on a pristine trail with fresh powder. (He asked that I not name the exact location for privacys sake.)

Brady does a good job handling being Brady. But who can take being in the eye of the public storm all the time? When I first saw him Sunday afternoon, Brady had a wide grin. That grin was repeated six or eight times on the afternoon, including when he was urging his wife, supermodel Gisele Bndchen, to play photographer for The MMQB with the shot you see below this paragraph. Its break time, and other than some solemn, emotional minutes talking about his mother, Brady is determined to get away for a while, after the strangest yet most rewarding year of his professional life.

After the game, Id asked Brady for some time to dissect the key plays in one of the great pieces of football theater the NFL has ever put on, New Englands comeback from a 28-3 deficit to the 34-28 victory. We did this after his last Super Bowl victory two years ago, on the phone. This time he invited me here. One thing led to another, and we put 90 minutes on tape"much about the game, but much, too, about his future, his family, his season, and the way he lives. So Ill divide my time with him thusly: Today Ill put the great comeback under his microscope; Wednesday, Ill write Part II about all other things Brady"including how long he plans to play. And in conjunction with The MMQBs podcast partner, DGital media, Ill put the conversation in a Brady-centric two-part podcast: Tuesday morning and Thursday morning. Youll have a seat with us for the entire conversation. And for those whove had their fill of perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time, well have plenty more to interest you this week at The MMQB.

Brady disagreed with my first premise of the afternoon, about this Super Bowl being one of the great games of his life.

I dont really think that is necessarily the case, he said, relaxing in ski pants and sneakers. I think it was one of the greatest games I have ever played in, but when I think of an interception return for a touchdown, some other missed opportunities in the first 37, 38 minutes of the game, I dont really consider playing a good quarter-and-a-half plus overtime as one of the best games ever. But it was certainly one of the most thrilling for me, just because so much was on the line, and it ended up being an incredible game. There are so many things that played into that game"a high-scoring offense, a top-ranked defense, the long Super Bowl, four-and-a-half-hour game, the way that the game unfolded in the first half versus what happened in the second half so it was just a great game.

Well, Ill quibble with him on that one. I get the angst over the crappy interception that Atlanta cornerback Robert Alford returned for a touchdown, and a few other bad throws. But any quarterback who, on his teams five biggest drives of the season, goes touchdown-field-goal-touchdown-touchdown-touchdown, and brings his team back from 25 down to win the Super Bowl that constitutes one of the great games of ones life.

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