Two decades into their careers, it’s no mystery that their playing days are slowly reaching their end. Tom Brady and Cristiano Ronaldo have been the golden boys of their respective sports and teams, the New England Patriots and Real Madrid.
Brady and Ronaldo have moved on, from the teams where they established themselves as GOATs. Their climb to the top and continuous success parallel each other in every way.
With six Super Bowl rings to his name, four Super Bowl MVPs, and three league MVPs, there is no question that Tom Brady is the most successful quarterback of the past two decades.
During his Patriots tenure, Brady was always trusted in making his team Super Bowl favorites. Between 2011 and 2018, Brady led his team to eight consecutive AFC Championship games, capturing four Super Bowls titles in the process.
Super Bowls 49 and 51 saw Brady pull off monumental last minute comebacks; over the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons. No other QB can turn the tables, with the odds stacked against him, in such a manner.
Five-time UEFA Champions League victor, three back-to-back under the Real Madrid banner, and one with Manchester United, two Liga titles, and five Ballon D’Or awards, Cristiano Ronaldo is the most dominant player of the modern era. Add a UCL title hat-trick between 2015 and 2017, and the 2016 Euro Cup victory with Portugal, to solidify the case.
Brady and Ronaldo always pushed the boundaries of leading unbeatable teams. The New York Jets and Sevilla were always primary targets for Brady and Ronaldo’s joy. Top contenders like Ben Roethlisberger’s Pittsburgh Steelers and Messi’s Barcelona weren’t an exemption. A mistake was like a drop of blood in water, Brady and Ronaldo would sniff that from a mile away like sharks, and cash-in for the kill.
Led by the right coaches
What is a good player without an excellent coach to sculpt out the greatest talents to hit a field? Bill Belichick and Zinedine Zidane will be remembered for being the minds behind the greatest players of this generation. These player-coach combos made Ronaldo and Brady are one in a lifetime. What they achieved falls into category reserved solely for them. UCL Champions, Super Bowl titles, Liga champions, and MVPs. They have seen and captured it all.
Living Legends Move On
In recent years, Brady and Ronaldo finally showed signs of slowing down. This is not to say that it was a sharp decline. CR7 still walks circles around defenders. Brady connects with receivers with precision, you’d think he’s using a sniper rifle.
2018 saw Ronald debut with Italian giants Juvetus, and was as good as advertised. What better way to shrug off doubts due to age, by scoring flawless goals, and winning consecutive Serie A championships.
La Liga is a far more physically demanding league to Serie A. The reality is that age and knee tendinitis finally caught up. To Serie A’s credit, it’s still highly competitive. But Real Madrid brought out the best in Ronaldo, to win gold. But a decline was noticeable.
Real Madrid effortlessly defeated Liverpool 3-1, in the 2017-18 UCL Final, but Ronaldo was not one of the goalscorers. The following year, an unsuspecting Ajax knocked out Real Madrid from the UCL Round of 16, 5-3 in aggregate. Again, Ronaldo did not find the back of the net.
In recent years, the Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans joined the fray as major threats to Brady and his Patriots. In the 2017 and 2018 AFC Championship games, everything came down to the wire, against the Chiefs and Jaguars. In typical TB12 fashion, he saved the game.
Before Brady could even sniff the 2019 AFC Championship game, New England was bumped into the Wildcard Round. With speculation of Brady departing from New England, this was truly a nailbiter. The storybook finish didn’t play out. Brady was picked in his final throw, as a Patriot.
Now a Buccaneer, Brady faced difficult scenarios in the NFC South, something unseen to him in the AFC East. It was the New Orleans Saints, always a playoff favorite, who upset the Buccaneers twice this season. Regardless of his new setting, Brady punched a spot into the 2020 Playoffs.
You name it, they did it. Apart from winning, there’s also an ever growing list of records being broken. Brady has 30 postseason wins, 73 touchdown passes (18 Super Bowl), completed 256 of 392 attempts, threw for 2,838 yards, and four-time MVP, and biggest comeback (Super Bowl 51). These merely scratch the surface to demonstrate his brilliance.
Between his 2009 debut Real Madrid debut, and final game, Ronaldo netted 451 goals in 438 appearances (avg one goal per game): 312 in La Liga, 61 in a single season, 105 in the UCL, and 2 in the 2017 UCL Final (two with Manchester United for a total of 4). Add 102 goals with Portugal, 118 with Manchester United, and 75 with Juventus. Just recently, Ronaldo surpassed Pele to be the all-time top goalscorer in the world. With this in mind, Ronaldo is practically the measuring stick for success.
Faced and Defeated All
You name the teams and players, and the chances are that Brady and Ronaldo have beaten them. Some wins are greater than others, usually humiliating opponents when it counts most.
Super Bowl 49; Seattle Seahawks’ ‘The Legion of Boom’? Outplayed in the fourth quarter, giving Brady his 4th ring. Down by 25 points, 28-3, against the Falcons, in the Super Bowl? Shred the defense with 25 unanswered points, and win in OT: 34-28.
Down by two goals, on aggregate, against Atletico Madrid in the UCL? Respond with a hat-trick to send them back home. Playing away from home, in Barcelona’s Camp Nou? Score in the 72nd minute, silence the crowd, and walk out Liga champion.
Messi, Peyton Manning, Thomas Muller, Aaron Rodgers, David Villa, and Russell Wilson. These are a few of the many greats who have submitted to Ronaldo and Brady.
Ronaldo and Brady have set the bar high above anyone else. To escalate it to new levels, Ronaldo needs to win the Serie A, Balon D’Oro, and UCL in the same year. As for Brady, it’s winning the NFC Championship, Super Bowl, and Super Bowl MVP.
We’re at the beginning of the 2020 NFL Playoffs and nearing halfway into the 2020-2021 UCL. We’re witnessing moments in which Ronaldo and Brady can extend their legacies to new heights. Will they be champions once more, before they hang up their cleats?