For all Tom Brady’s success in the Super Bowl — he has an NFL-record six rings — his resume has a gaping hole: The star quarterback has yet to account for a first-quarter touchdown in the big game.
That’s right, the guy with more TD passes than anyone in NFL history has failed to get his team into the end zone in the opening 15 minutes in any of his nine Super Bowls.
It’s staggering, really. Or maybe just fluky. Brady and his former team, New England, managed a first-quarter field goal in 2018 against Philadelphia. Goose eggs in the rest of their Super Bowl appearances (2002, ’04, ’05, ’08, ’12, ’15 , ’17 and ’19).
Maybe a new team will bring new early-game results when Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host Kansas City on Sunday.
“Yeah, you’d obviously love to get off to a fast start,” Brady said. “It’s hard to explain why or why not that hasn’t happened. I’m sure they’re all a lot of individual things. I don’t know. Ultimately, for us this week, it’s about taking every play, understanding what we’re trying to execute on a given play and then go make it happen.”
Of course, Brady has been dynamic for the other three quarters in most of those games. The Pats averaged nearly 23.5 points in the final three periods.
“The one thing about this game, you’re playing the other best team in the league,” he said. “There’s not a lot of margin for error. If you do anything that‘s unsound, it’s not going to work. The execution has to be at your best. It should be that way. That’s the way this game should be played.
“It should be the highest level of execution ’cause it’s the most time to prepare, concentration, focus. You’ve got to lay it on the line and try to make the plays when we got them. When they’re there to be made, we’ve got to make them.”
Chiefs backup quarterback Chad Henne has the most yards passing in Michigan history, well ahead of another Wolverines quarterback in Tom Brady.
Henne knows what he’d rather have.
“I’ll take his professional career over them, over my college career,” Henne said.
Henne was a four-year starter with the Wolverines, while Brady alreadyhad two of his Super Bowl rings before Henne’s first start at Michigan. Henne called Brady a true role model for quarterbacks with what he does on and off the field, his leadership and ability to win championships.
“And we always want to strive to be one like Tom,” Henne said. “And I’m proud that he’s a Michigan Wolverine and really proud of what he’s done in his career.”
Henne, who turns 36 in July, isn’t likely to play as long as Brady either. Henne already has an idea of what he wants to do after he stops playing, even though he has one more year on the contract the Chiefs signed him to last offseason, and still feels he has “a little gas in the tank.”
“After football, I feel like I just want to get back and coach quarterbacks and help out a high school,” Henne said. “I feel like with all this information, all these years and experience, I can get back to the community and help out some younger quarterbacks.”
SMALL SCHOOLS, BIG STAGE
The interior of Tampa Bay’s offensive line is as unheralded as a group playing in the Super Bowl can get, each of them manning an unglamorous position and coming from a small college background.
Left guard Ali Marpet was the highest-drafted NCAA Division III player in history, a second-rounder from Hobart College in 2015. Center Ryan Jensen was a sixth-round pick by Baltimore in 2013 out of Division II Colorado State Pueblo who did eventually sign a $42 million free agent contract with the Bucs.
Right guard Aaron Stinnie went undrafted out of James Madison in Virginia at the FCS level. He replaced the injured Alex Cappa, a third-round choice in 2018 out of Division II Humboldt State in California.
“I feel like it proves it doesn’t really matter where you played college ball, as long as you can get it done at the next level. I think that seems like it’s kind of becoming the narrative now,” Marpet said. “I think the narrative is hopefully shifting to the point where it doesn’t matter as long as football’s important to you and you get better.”
Playing at Hobart, located in the town of Geneva in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, even provided Marpet an unexpected benefit for the 2020 pandemic season.
“One of the unique experiences that I had at Division III that sort of lent itself well to the NFL this year specifically is that a lot of stadiums didn’t have a whole lot of fans, right? So I think being able to communicate in that sort of quiet, being able to bring your own energy and your own juice, I’m sort of used to that and I kind of enjoy that. So I think actually was an advantage for me this year,” Marpet said.
Buccaneers defensive end William Gholston kicked off Super Bowl week and Black History Month by donating $225,000 to support research into cancer health disparities.
The gift to the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa will help fund work in breast, colon and prostate cancer, which all disproportionately affect Black communities.
Gholston, who’s played for the Bucs throughout his eight-year NFL career, made the donation in the name of his mother, a breast cancer survivor, and father, who died of lung cancer. The 29-year-old player also lost an uncle to prostate cancer.
“My father and uncle both died battling cancer, and my mother has won her battle with cancer multiple times. This battle is hard. The fight is hard, and any amount of research or help is huge in my eyes,” Gholston said. “I hope this donation helps others who are fighting or may have to fight down the line. You can never get the time back, but with this effort we may be able to add more time for others.“
The nonprofit group that helps the NFL turn all the championship gear created for losing teams will have a new item to distribute during the coronavirus pandemic.
Masks of course.
This is the seventh year the NFL has teamed with Good360 to collect all the T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts kept stashed away in boxes after AFC and NFC championship losses. Gear from the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers will be added to everything ready to sell for either Kansas City or Tampa Bay, depending on which team loses, once the Super Bowl ends Sunday night.
The new item this year includes that must-have mask for safety’s sake. Good360 will be distributing all the losers’ gear to a list of pre-approved regions and countries such as Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
AP Pro Football Writers Mark Long, Teresa M. Walker and Dave Campbell and AP Sports Writer Fred Goodall contributed to this report.