Tom Brady named Sports Illustrated’s 2021 Sportsperson of the Year

The quarterback led the Bucs to a Super Bowl victory 16 years after he won the award the first time.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady was named Sports Illustrated's 2021 Sportsperson of the Year.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady was named Sports Illustrated's 2021 Sportsperson of the Year. [ BRYNN ANDERSON | AP ]
Published Dec. 8, 2021|Updated Dec. 8, 2021

TAMPA ― Tom Brady may be in the sunset of his career, and from his home in Davis Islands he is witness to some spectacular ones.

But at age 44, with his team 9-3 in defense of its Super Bowl 55 championship, he shows no retreat. In fact, he leads the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns.

Why does he still do it?

“I imagine not playing, and I imagine watching on Sundays going, ‘These guys suck! I could do way better than that,’” Brady told Sports Illustrated. And then still knowing in my heart that I actually could still do it. If I stopped, I think I’d have to find something else that I’m pretty good at. And I don’t know that, you know, I’m going to jump into something that has the same amount of excitement.”

The thrills haven’t ended, and for his most recent accomplishments against and with players half his age, Brady has been named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year for 2021.

It’s the second time Brady has received the honor, but they came 16 years apart.

Brady was shown the cover of the magazine when he won the first time in 2005. He was only 25 and single.

“I think I recognize that person,” he told Sports Illustrated. “But there’s so much more to me now.”

In a cover story by Jon Wertheim, Brady talks about his decision to leave New England after 20 seasons and how he found a new way to win and rediscovered his voice in Tampa Bay.

Football is still a grind, and the victories are merely relief while defeats are tortuous. He equates it to the exhaustion of running a marathon.

But even at his age, he didn’t just come to Florida to retire. He still can play, and right now is the best in the game.

“I’d say there are parts of me that are 55, and I think there are parts of me that are 25,” Brady told the magazine. “What parts? I think I’m wise beyond my years. I think I’ve had a lot of experience packed into 44 years. When I go through the tunnel and onto the field? Probably mid-30′s — and I’ve got to work really hard to feel good. It’s a demolition derby every Sunday. I feel 25 when I’m in the locker room with the guys. Which is probably why I still do it.”

• • •

Sign up for the Bucs RedZone newsletter to get updates and analysis on the latest team and NFL news from Bucs beat writer Joey Knight.

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.