The shots just keep coming for the Bears.
Buccaneers star quarterback Tom Brady has enjoyed subtly jabbing them ahead of their game Sunday in Tampa, Florida. He started the week by congratulating Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for being “part owner” of Soldier Field and playfully zinged Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields on Thursday.
Brady began his college football career at Michigan in 1995, four years before Fields was born, and Fields just wrapped a great career at Ohio State. When a reporter mentioned that it would be Brady’s first time facing an Ohio State quarterback in the NFL, he picked at a longstanding source of exasperation for the Buckeyes.
“How about that?” Brady mused. “I’m not gonna say anything too inflammatory about Ohio State, if that’s what you’re getting at.
“That’s interesting. Why is there not a lot of Ohio State quarterbacks in the pros? There’s a lot of Michigan guys over the years, but not a lot of Ohio State guys.”
Brady doesn’t miss much, so maybe he heard Fields’ remark last week that his favorite part of the rivalry was “beating them” and Brady felt he owed him one.
That subject surfaced last week for Fields as a parallel to the Bears-Packers series, but now Fields steps into an even bigger rivalry: Brady vs. the rest of the NFL. He has beaten every team in the league while stacking up seven championships, and that includes a 5-1 record against the Bears.
Brady suffered his lone loss to the Bears this time last year, when the Bucs were still staggering to a 7-5 start. They closed the regular season with four consecutive wins, then marched through the playoffs to win the Super Bowl.
The Bears game was a low point for Brady, who got sacked three times and played one of his worst games of the season, then lost track of what down it was at the end. As the Bucs drove for a potential game-winning field goal, Brady threw incomplete on fourth-and-five at his own 41-yard line, then looked around bewilderedly thinking he had one more play.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been as confused as I was in [that] moment,” Brady said. “Look at that face.”
It was a rare lapse in his sparkling 22-year career.
For comparison, Mitch Trubisky set the Bears’ passer-rating record for a full-time starter in 2018 at 95.4; Brady has exceeded that in 11 of his 19 full seasons. They’ve never had a quarterback make the Pro Bowl more than three times; Brady has made 14.
The totality of what he has accomplished is overwhelming, but what he has done in his 40s alone would make him the best quarterback in Bears history. He also has won more Super Bowls after 40 (two) than they have in their existence (one). While they’ve been trying to recapture the glory of 1985, Brady set and met his goal of winning more championships than Michael Jordan.
In four seasons after turning 40, Brady would’ve set or tied the Bears’ single-season record for touchdown passes three times, their passer-rating record four times and yardage mark four times. He’s on pace to break all those numbers again this year at 44.
Apparently, there was a chance he’d actually break those franchise records. The Bears were one of three finalists to sign Brady when he left the Patriots in 2020, NBC’s Dan Patrick reported. That would have made sense, in part, because the Bears had an elite defense, but Brady’s decision seems to have worked out just fine.