Though both players have laughed at Father Time and about their matchup this weekend, Brees noted “a friendship and a mutual respect.” He also said there was an air of inevitability once Brady moved from New England to Tampa Bay last March.
“When Tom Brady signed with the Bucs, and I knew that he was coming to our division, I envisioned this game. What was that, nine months ago? Eight months ago?” Brees said. “I envisioned this game happening, because I knew our aspirations as a team, to be in the playoffs and beyond, and I certainly knew what he was bringing to the Bucs and that talented roster. And so I think this is probably where we all envisioned being at this point in the season.”
Brady playfully jabbed Brees when his social media team expanded on a tweet in which former MLB third baseman Danny Valencia noted, “Every future @TomBrady game should be on the history channel.” It created just that, with Brady getting a Moses look and Brees, well, he got something else.
“Unfortunately, they made me look like the dad from ‘Family Ties,’” Brees said, although he didn’t note that Brady’s hairline has been the subject of scrutiny over the years, too. “I didn’t like the hairline. I’ll be honest. I would’ve liked a little thicker head of hair. I know I’m getting older and probably losing a little bit. I would have liked a little more hair up top. I’ve never been able to grow a beard, so that’s what I’ve got later on in my future. Maybe I’ll get a nice, good, thick beard going. But I thought it was hilarious.”
Since the subject of history is on their minds, here are some stats to keep in mind. The two faced off once during their college days, when Brady’s Michigan team beat Brees’s Purdue squad, 38-12, in 1999.
The two future Hall of Famers have never played before in the NFL postseason because they spent so much of their careers in different conferences. They seemed headed for a meeting in Super Bowl LIII two years ago until the Saints lost the NFC championship game in overtime, with a big assist from a blown pass interference call.
But they have faced one another in seven regular season games, with Brees holding a 5-2 advantage (including 2-0 this season). Brees, the 32nd overall pick by the San Diego Chargers in the 2001 NFL draft, is the all-time NFL playoff leader with an average of 307.8 passing yards per game (minimum five games). Brady, the Patriots’ 199th pick (you may have heard) in the 2000 NFL draft, trumps all with six Super Bowl rings from nine appearances.
As befits their two decades in the NFL, Brady and Brees occupy the top two spots on some of the most significant career passing stats leader boards. Brees is the all-time leader in passing yards (80,358) and completions (7,142), with Brady second (79,204 and 6,778). The two traded the lead for career passing touchdowns this season until Brees hurt his ribs and missed four games. Brady has 581 and Brees 571.
This time may be the last time they square off, though. With an NBC contract in hand, Brees is likely to retire while Brady plays on.