- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2002

NEW ORLEANS New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady spent yesterday at Disney World before heading to a parade today in Boston. The whirlwind has begun for the youngest passer ever to win a Super Bowl.
"I'm a little like a kite in the wind," he said. "I'm going with the flow. It's hard to turn people down."
Brady grew up watching San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young from the Candlestick Park stands. He loved the tandem's passion for the game. Brady felt their love for the game transferred to him during those fall afternoons. He wanted to be a quarterback, too.
Brady joined the tandem as Super Bowl Most Valuable Players after leading the winning drive late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams. It was a fitting ending to a remarkable year. Brady went 14-3 after replacing injured quarterback Drew Bledsoe despite throwing only three passes last season as a sixth-round rookie.
Now Brady is New England's newest hero. Just 24 years old, Brady's upside is years of potential improvement. The downside is fulfilling those hefty expectations. Miami quarterback Dan Marino was only 22 years and four months old when losing a Super Bowl. However, Marino never returned to the championship game in a probable Hall-of-Fame career.
"I'm looking for the next challenge. The mark is set pretty high at this point," Brady said. "Everybody's already talking about going back next year, but I'm going to enjoy this. The emotional ride has been straight up with no downers."
It's an offseason that promises the Patriots will further entrench Brady over Bledsoe as their starter, with the latter likely getting traded. The Washington Redskins will certainly be among the bidders. Brady is supposed to earn $298,000, though the Patriots probably will rework his contract. Endorsements will make him a millionaire before the start of training camp. Still, Brady seemed overwhelmed to have won a $49,245 Cadillac Escalade as part of the MVP award. Maybe now Brady can junk the canary yellow heap he drives.
Brady figures to watch the Super Bowl film in the spring. Then he'll start working on his mechanics. Improving his footwork, avoiding the rush and looking downfield are just the start for a passer who's still learning the game after going 20-5 in two seasons at Michigan.
"I've never seen a player improve as much as he has," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "Nobody on the team worked as hard as Tom did."
Brady gained four votes through online fan balloting that overcame cornerback Ty Law's two-vote media lead for the MVP award. Law's 47-yard interception gave New England a 7-3 lead with 8:49 remaining in the first half. It started a 17-0 Patriots run, but Brady's closing drive better impressed fans.
The Rams scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to tie the game with 1:30 remaining. St. Louis, seeking its second championship in three years, clearly gained the momentum. No Super Bowl ever reached overtime, and Brady knew the Patriots needed to win in the final moments rather than risk sudden death vs. the "Greatest Show on Turf" offense that finally found its rhythm.
"I was just thinking I didn't want to go into OT with [the Rams]," he said.
Brady was only 11 of 19 for 92 yards before the drive. However, he completed five of eight for 53 yards in the final drive. The Patriots never ran the ball, staying in shotgun formation that eliminated any doubt Brady would pass.
"Tom has responded pretty much all year in those situations," receiver Troy Brown said. "He wasn't forcing the ball down the field. He just did a good job of finding the open guy, making good decisions."
Brady opened with three medium-range completions to running back J.R. Redmond before hitting Brown on a 23-yarder and tight end Jermaine Wiggins for six yards to set up kicker Adam Vinatieri's 48-yarder.
Four million pieces of confetti soon filled the air. Brady is now a legend. Just like Montana and Young.


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