The exact moment that Bernard Pollard made contact with Tom Brady's knee, a question was asked that would define the careers of two men: Who was standing behind the curtain of the New England Patriot's glory years ?
Was Tom Brady the sole reason for the unprecedented success of a perfect regular season and three Super Bowl rings, or was it The Evil Genius, Bill Belichick's brain pulling the strings on all of his puppets while guiding them to not just team, but individual glory?
What have we learned in the 17 weeks that every New England sports fan swore that we would now learn who the real catalyst behind the Patriot's success was? My opinion...nothing at all.
Bill Belichick took a fabulous High School QB, who rode Pete Carroll's bench for four years, and then proceeded to emulate a High School QB this preseason and came within one Bret Favre brainfart short of capturing the AFC East's crown this year.
Along the way, he managed to find a way to win with the additional losses of his best pass-rusher and unquestioned mental and physical leader of the secondary. His defensive backfield consisted of not one player who would have played on 20 other team's nickel and dime packages.
Twenty years from now, Matt Cassel will never appear in the same sentence with Tom Brady during discussions of the greatest quarterbacks ever. Tom Brady made household names out of Deion Branch, David Patten, and David Givens.
Each one of them should have Tom Brady on their annual Christmas card list, due to the fact that he got each and everyone of them absurd amounts of money from other NFL teams, only to have them fail when he's not around to put the football right on their numbers, 20 yards downfield.
Brady also never paid any attention to all of the skeptics who said "he couldn't throw the long ball", "he's a system quarterback", "he's no Peyton Manning, he just allows his team to win by not making mistakes", among many other ludicrous statements.
He proved himself only when he had to in order for team success. He didn't smash Manning's TD record for self-gratification, he threw 50 TD's because his team had no running game and that's what it took to win games.
Getting back to the original question, of who was more responsible for all of the Patriots success, all of Belichick's Offensive and Defensive Coordinators going out on their own and failing miserably (Weis, Crennell, Mangini) makes a great case for him.
Tom Brady's go-to WR's going out on their own and fading into obscurity makes a great case for himself, but I think the real answer to this question is that there is no good answer.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
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