When Tom Brady takes the field Sunday in Super Bowl 55, he will join ultra-elite company.
Brady will become only the fourth quarterback in NFL history to start a Super Bowl for multiple teams, joining Craig Morton, Kurt Warner and Peyton Manning.
Morton started Super Bowl V for Dallas and Super Bowl XII for Denver. Warner started in two Super Bowls for the Rams and one for the Cardinals. And Manning started two for Indianapolis and two for Denver.
This of course marks the 10th Super Bowl appearance of Brady’s career, but his first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He hopes this game will end with him hoisting his seventh Lombardi trophy.
But when asked both last week and this week about his success, Brady deflected.
“For me, it’s just being a part of a lot of great teams. For an individual player like myself as a quarterback, it’s not about what I do,” said Brady, 43, who will break his own three-year-old record for the oldest passer to start in a Super Bowl.
“It’s about what we do. So much of it is being on the same page with my teammates, the receivers, tight ends, the coaches. Part of the success is being able to enjoy that success with everybody. Everybody plays such a critical role, and there’s nothing you can accomplish in football without the support of the entire team.”
But it’s impossible to ignore the rarity of this accomplishment, and if he’s victorious on Sunday, Brady will achieve a distinction that not all of the other three managed.
Here’s a look at how the others fared in their quests for Super Bowl titles with multiple teams:
As a member of the Dallas Cowboys during the 1970-71 season, Morton fell short in his Super Bowl debut. He led Dallas on a 10-4 campaign that preceded playoff victories over Detroit and San Francisco. But then Morton and the Cowboys lost 16-13 to Baltimore in Super Bowl V.
Seven years later, as a 13-year veteran, Morton sought redemption. He led Denver to Super Bowl XII, where the Broncos faced Morton’s former team. But Morton again found victory elusive, throwing four interceptions and completing just four-of-15 passes for 39 yards in a 27-10 loss to the Cowboys.
After a six-year run in St. Louis, which included a victory over Tennessee in Super Bowl XXXIV and a loss to New England in Super Bowl XXXVI (Brady’s first Super Bowl) and two MVP campaigns, Warner spent the 2004 season with the New York Giants. He then signed with Arizona in 2005.
He made it back to the big game following the 2008 season after leading the Cardinals on a 9-7 campaign and playoff victories over Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia.
Super Bowl XLIII, the last played in Tampa until this year, saw Warner and the Cardinals take a 23-20 lead over Pittsburgh with 2:37 left on the clock thanks to a 64-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald. But the Steelers’ offense (directed by Bruce Arians) answered with an eight-play, 78-yard scoring drive capped with a six-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left. The Steelers’ defense then sacked Warner, forcing him to fumble with 15 seconds left to deny the Cardinals.
Manning went 1-1 in Super Bowl appearances with the Indianapolis Colts. Then, after missing the entire 2011 season with a neck injury that required multiple surgeries, Indianapolis released him. Two years after signing with Denver, Manning directed the Broncos to Super Bowl XLVIII, where Seattle blew them out, 43-8.
But two years later, Manning and the Broncos returned to the Super Bowl. Backed by a defense that forced four turnovers, they defeated Cam Newton and the Panthers despite getting outgained on the ground and through the air. Manning had 141 passing yards, an interception, one lost fumble and no touchdowns. But he won and holds the distinction of being the only quarterback to win a Super Bowl as a starting quarterback for multiple teams.
Could Brady be next?
Arians, Manning’s offensive coordinator in Indianapolis and now Brady’s head coach, certainly believes his quarterback is capable of matching Manning’s feat.
“Two of the greatest to ever play the game. Very seldom do those guys ever come available,” he said. “So Peyton with the neck injury and everything that went on, what he did was just remarkable, coming back and winning the Super Bowl.
“Tom has still got a lot left in him, so for him to come to another ball club and do what he’s done is absolutely remarkable, especially when you look at no offseason and the continual growth from September to October, to November, to December, until now. Hell, we’re still growing.”
Brady certainly is more effective at this point in his career than Manning, who did just enough to win his final Super Bowl. But Brady also has the support of a strong defense.
“To have an opportunity to play in this game means a lot to me,” Brady said. “It’s a lot of commitment and sacrifice by a lot of guys. We’re one game away from the ultimate goal in this sport. I’ve been a part of that ultimate goal six other times. They’re all different. …
“They’ve been very unique in their own way. It would just be cool to accomplish it this time. I don’t compare them to the other times. They were all magical times in my life, and no one can ever take that from me.”
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