Online sports betting makes Super Bowl ‘more fun’ for fans: FOX Sports NFL analyst
FOX Sports NFL analyst Mark Schlereth discusses the rise of online sports betting and provides insight into football contracts.
On a warm Sunday afternoon almost 20 years ago, New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis lowered his shoulder and delivered a brutal blow to a New England Patriots quarterback scrambling to the sideline. Drew Bledsoe crumpled to the ground. Soon, a little known 24-year-old named Tom Brady stepped onto the field.
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Football was never the same.
Brady, now finishing his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, won his record seventh Super Bowl on Sunday in a dominant 31-9 thumping of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. The title follows six championships he won with New England.
Looking back, the one play that happened to launch football’s greatest career wasn’t simply a grisly hit. It explains why Brady, now 43, is still atop the sport to this day: football’s rules changed to safeguard players like him right as he embarked on his unrivaled career.
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Brady changed the NFL. The NFL also changed in ways that helped extend Brady’s greatness.
“I haven’t had a lot of time to think about all the things like that,” Brady said of winning this Super Bowl at this stage of his career. “I’m just blessed.”
He’s blessed because his career happened to dovetail with an evolution inside the sport that has never made it more sustainable to play the game’s most important position for longer. As Brady rewrote football’s record book, the league rewrote football’s rulebook to protect its players—and particularly its quarterbacks.
The NFL wanted quarterback safety. It has produced Brady claiming four Super Bowls—after he turned 37. Quarterbacks like Brady, and a host of his peers, have lasted longer than ever because they’re hit less often and less hard. Brady has also credited his well-publicized diet and training methods for his durability.
Brady is only the forefront of an era of quarterbacks who have persisted and played better at an older age than anybody could have imagined in the wake of these overhauls. Peyton Manning won his second Super Bowl five years ago at 39. Drew Brees, who turned 42 during these playoffs, has remained the engineer of elite offenses in New Orleans. Aaron Rodgers was crowned MVP this year after turning 37. The oldest MVP: Brady three years ago.
It’s no coincidence that the greatest passing era of all time has aligned with an unprecedented run for quarterback longevity. In the same era that NFL teams have embraced passing more, and passing has become more efficient, quarterbacks are protected unlike ever in the game’s history.