[Chronique de Louis Hamelin] The season too many

In 2021, at the age of 43, Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl ring. That’s three more than Montana and Bradshaw, the two legends he caught up with in 2015, then dropped completely as he approached his forties. Let’s have some more fun: Brady has appeared in ten Super Bowls. And the one who comes second in this ranking, at five. It is often said that records are made to be broken, but I would bet my RRSP that it will grow palm trees in Chibougamau before these two appear in the sights of another football player.

Just ten months ago, Brady led the league in touchdown passes and he was hotting up Aaron Rodgers, another forerunner, in the hunt for the MVP trophy. Then the Rams, late in January, dismissed the Buccaneers, and soon after, the 44-year-old quarterback announced a retirement that, like that of Moses on Mount Sinai, would last 40 days.

To say that, on the sporting level, a Tom Brady has nothing more to prove would be to employ a rather comic understatement. It is a man who has become his own monument who presents himself on the field. And that is probably why, in this laborious autumn of the Bucs, the commentators do not hesitate to evoke the “season of too many”, as if ordinary performances, worthy of a mortal, now risked tarnishing the myth.

A divorce to the delight of two armies of lawyers could be the other explanation for this long face on the sideline.

By announcing, in March, that he was returning to service, Brady did not hide behind the favorite cliché of the champions on the return: “I still have fun playing…”. It’s not like we don’t know he’s all about winning and we don’t already know about his monstrous work ethic. “We have a job to finish,” he said. No kidding.

An athlete who, having conquered everything, is still not very far from the top, but on the verge of unthinkable decline, reminds me of the elected president of a banana republic who sees the end of his mandate coming to an end: why I leave ? It takes place in a dark zone of consciousness where power is measured against biological reality.

The only example that comes to mind of a champion who left of his own free will while still reigning supreme over his sport was Michael Jordan, who fueled the same fierce desire to win as Brady, but possessed , in addition, a personality of fascinating complexity.

In 1998, at the age of 35, “Air Jordan”, six-time reigning NBA champion with the Bulls and once again the best player in the playoffs, endowed with a sense of honor rather rare in professional sports, quietly retired to show his loyalty to his fired coach. But of course, he too would return, with another team, to become an “almost” ordinary player.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have a Carey Price clinging to his multi-million dollar contract with a finished knee and a lot less principles. Another sport, other mores, but we can’t imagine a Federer continuing to earn big purses with his messed up kneecap.

On September 23, it would have taken a heart of stone not to feel at least a shudder seeing the Swiss crying hot tears after his farewell match in London, soon imitated by his pal Nadal with, no doubt at the latter’s , a small thought for his own sores, the kind that does not get better with age. Big boys who listen to their bodies and express their emotions. From the top of these two, 42 Grand Slam victories stared us down.

I’d like to dive back into the thoughts of Andre Agassi on the morning of what may be his last professional match, at the US Open in 2006. He’s in his hotel room in New York with Steffi and the kids . I leafed through the autobiography of this other magnificent tennis bitch (open) last spring at a cabin. I don’t have time to go to the library anymore, but it said, basically: my body is screaming at me to stop, but my soul wants to continue…

The trick is to announce, before the start of the season, that we are going to retire at the end of it, which then turns into a farewell tour. This is how Guy Lafleur, in a Nordiques uniform, was celebrated in all NHL amphitheaters during his final lap at the dawn of the 1990s.

Anyway, place for young people. An Auger-Aliassime must find that he arrives at the right time, while, for the first time in a generation, the first places in the ATP rankings are not locked by a Big Three.

Arrives on Sunday. Brady takes on the defending champions in Tampa. The Rams, who lead 13-9 with less than a minute to go, give the ball back to the Bucs. I know they had no choice, but it felt like they didn’t know their classics and didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. Brady at his 40 line, with 44 seconds on the clock. My family now occupied the entire width of the couch, not daring to believe in another “Tom moment” (excuse her…).

And this defense that deploys too deep and concedes 10-yard passes with touchdown at will. What happened? It was to cry with joy. In this twilight season, Brady looked even taller. Sunsets are never more beautiful than in autumn.

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