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Monday, February 8, 2021

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

George Foreman was cheering for Tom Brady Sunday night. After all, the former heavyweight champ knows what it took for the Tampa Bay quarterback to win his seventh Super Bowl at the age of 43.

“I told everyone that I believed he was going to win,” Foreman said.


He figured that Brady had the punching power that Foreman had in 1994 when, at the age of 45, he knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th round to win back the title he had lost to Muhammad Ali 20 years earlier.

Foreman’s power? The power of knowledge and experience.

“When I was young and had all that enthusiasm, I was either guided or misguided by trainers and managers,” Foreman said. “But when I made my comeback, I was equally experienced and knowledgeable about boxing as my trainers. They had to come for me. The coaches needed to ask me questions.

“I needed enthusiasm, but that and physical strength were last on my list,” Foreman said. “It was all about being a thinking man’s game, like a chess game then. And I was able to play it well.”

Brady was hardly misguided by his coaches, as coach Bruce Arians and coordinators Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles gave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the game plan they needed to upset the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs by a 31-9 margin in Super Bowl 55.

But you also recognized the fingerprints of Brady all over his historic win in the postgame comments and reports, the text messages to his Tampa Bay teammates guaranteeing a win and telling them how they were going to do it.

“He made us believe,” Tampa Bay running back Leonard Fournette told reporters.
They weren’t just words. It was knowledge.

“He was on point, he was telling us what to expect,” Fournette said. “He was telling us they weren’t very good at tackling.”

When someone with six Super Bowl rings already on his resume with the New England Patriots comes to a new team, leads them to the Super Bowl in his first year in town and then tells teammates they will win — and how — it carries weight, more than what any coach may be able to offer.

“Tom Brady, his presence, was the greatest motivation of all, and their belief in him,” Foreman said. “You can’t beat it.

“I knew that Brady was able to outplay those guys because he’s been in all those situations,” Foreman said. “He needed the coach to consult with him and all he needed from the team was for them to feel he was with them and lead them to a Super Bowl victory.

“That’s what happens when you get to be 43 or 45,” Foreman said. “You think. I think the greatest thing you can do as an athlete, the greatest power you have is to outthink them, and you can’t just jump up and outthink them. Enthusiasm like that great young quarterback that Kansas City has, nobody can match that and his physical strength and his athleticism. But thinking can outdo them every time.”

Foreman seemed outmatched by Moorer’s youth for nine rounds in the historic fight. But Foreman had sized up the champion during the fight and put himself in position for the short, powerful right hand that put Moorer on the canvas in the 10th round and made history.

Foreman remains the voice of authority on senior citizen glory. While we are struggling to come up with ways to put Brady’s latest victory in perspective among the great sports accomplishments, let us not forget that Foreman, at the age of 45, became the oldest fighter ever to win a world championship, 20 years after losing his title for the first time — the fighter with the longest interval between his first and second world championships. Also, the age difference between Moorer and Foreman was one year more than the difference between Brady and Mahomes.

And, remember, we are talking about boxing.

Foreman is ready to crown Brady as one of the greatest to compete in any arena.

“Now he’s got all those Super Bowl rings, and you’ll have to put him down there as one of the greatest athletes of all time,” Foreman said. “He reminds me of the great Muhammad Ali, ‘Hey, I’ve got another one in me.’

“I’m happy I was able to live and see something like that,” Foreman said. “Life is really nice to be able to see something like that. I wasn’t really interested in the games these days, but Tom Brady brought me back to life.”

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