Editor’s Note: Mike Downey is a former Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune columnist and a frequent contributor to CNN. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
What is your Tom Brady intelligence quotient? How well do you know this quarterback, who keeps coming back and back and back?
A QB IQ quiz seems like a bright idea now that the New England Patriots’ ageless (OK, 40) superstar will be playing in Super Bowl LII (OK, 52) and going for yet another of his countless National Football League championships (OK, this would make six).
Sunday’s game will pit Brady and the Pats against the Philadelphia Eagles, who have not won an NFL championship since 1960 — and (unlike Brady) have never won ANY game with “Super” in the title. Kickoff will be at approximately 6:30 p.m. ET at the US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis, a football field that is mercifully indoors (where anybody in Minnesota in his or her right mind ought to be in February).
Most of us feel as if we’ve been watching Tom Brady forever. But I know somebody who has been watching him longer than most of us. I got in touch Friday with 72-year-old Lloyd Carr, who was head coach at the University of Michigan from 1995 to 2007, including when Brady quarterbacked his team in the late ‘90s.
“Tom didn’t play much until his fourth year,” Carr, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, recalled during a phone call. “And he seriously thought about transferring to another school. He finally came in one day, sat down, leaned forward and said, ‘Coach, I’ve decided to come back next season and prove to you and to everybody that I can be a great quarterback.’”
After that, Brady needed to prove himself again after having 198 different players picked ahead of him in the 2000 NFL Draft. Still, he proceeded to become the most successful pro quarterback of the 21st century, still going strong, even at age 40.
“I think Tom says he might keep going until he’s 45,” Carr said. “I wouldn’t count him out. If I know Tom, I wouldn’t say there’s anything he can’t do.”
How about everybody else out there in Fan Land? Feel like you know this guy after all this time? Well, let’s test your knowledge. Take the quiz:
1. Tom Brady has been the quarterback of the New England Patriots of the National Football League for how long now:
(a.) Since, oh, wow, at least Super Bowl II or III.
(b.) Since Massachusetts became a state.
(c.) Since during the George Bush Administration (a bonus if you can name which George Bush).
(d.) Since the Patriots drafted him in 2000 (although it seems a hell of a lot longer).
2. Tom Brady has a chance this Sunday to win the Super Bowl:
(a.) Oh, no, not again!
(b.) If the referees let him.
(c.) Because the opponents will be the Philadelphia Eagles, who have NEVER won a Super Bowl.
(d.) For the sixth time (but maybe not the last).
3. Tom Brady is super popular in New England because:
(a.) People there feel HE is the one who Made America Great Again.
(b.) People there hear TV sportscasters talk about teams like “New York Jets” and “Buffalo Bills” and just laugh and laugh.
(c.) People under 20 there cannot name a single other New England human who ever played quarterback.
(d.) People there know he is the greatest NFL QB of all time (even if he doesn’t win on Sunday).
4. Tom Brady might not be able to win Super Bowl LII if the Eagles:
(a.) Decide to ask diehard Eagles fan Sylvester Stallone to take a punch at Brady before the kickoff.
(b.) Decide to ask diehard Eagles fan Kobe Bryant to slam-dunk a basketball off Brady’s nose before the kickoff.
(c.) Decide to ask diehard Eagles fan Mike Trout to take a whack at Brady’s knee with a baseball bat.
(d.) Score more points thanks to THEIR quarterback …. uh, whoever he is.
5. Tom Brady wins big games with help from big teammates, like:
(c.) Greta Gerwig.
(d.) Gronk. (His real name is Rob Gronkowski, and he’s like Godzilla-big.)
6. Tom Brady (lucky devil) is the husband of:
(a.) “Project Runway” host Heidi Klum.
(b.) German chancellor Angela Merkel.
(c.) “Brady Bunch” eldest daughter Marcia Brady.
(d.) Supermodel Gisele Bundchen. (Everything in this family is super-something.)
7. Tom Brady’s best-selling self-help book, “The TB12 Method,” is subtitled:
(a.) “How to Achieve a Lifetime of Me Always Playing in the Super Bowl.”
(b.) “How to Achieve a Lifetime of Never Being Seen in Public Dressed Like My Coach.”
(c.) “How to Achieve a Lifetime of Not Eating or Drinking Anything You See in a Super Bowl Commercial.”
(d.) “How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance.”
8. Tom Brady won a Super Bowl for the first time on February 3, 2002, back when:
(a.) We didn’t hear about “concussion protocols” but players getting their “bell rung.”
(b.) NFL players were permitted to heal and rest for a week instead of playing that stupid “Thursday Night Football.”
(c.) NFL experts said: “Win the Super Bowl? Come on, who ever heard of a New England team winning a Super Bowl?”
(d.) The Patriots won 20-17 to upset the favored St. Louis Rams (who were SO upset, a lot of them didn’t want to show their faces at home and said: “We ought to move to Los Angeles!”)
9. Tom Brady also won a Super Bowl game on February 1, 2004, a day when:
(a.) It being Super Bowl XXXVIII, millions of fans began to feel strongly that Roman numerals suck.
(b.) Janet Jackson was joined by Justin Timberlake at halftime and had what became known as “a wardrobe malfunction.”
(c.) The Carolina Panthers were about to win when they suddenly remembered they were the Carolina Panthers.
(d.) Americans began to sense the very real possibility that Brady and the Patriots would win every Super Bowl ever played.
10. Tom Brady won last year’s Super Bowl game, too, because:
(a.) Brady figured he would not be able to beat a very good Philadelphia Eagles team in the big game on February 4, 2018, for the sixth Super Bowl championship of his career. (But don’t bet on it.)
(b.) The Atlanta Falcons were about to win when they suddenly remembered they were the Carolina Panthers.
(c.) Brady realized that he would turn 40 years old in 2017, so he had better hurry up and win that game because he would probably only be able to win five or 10 more Super Bowls in his lifetime.
(d.) When the going got tough, he got going.
All of the answers (for anyone taking this thing seriously) are (d.).