There are photos of Brady dressed as Joe Cool as a kid, and as a 4-year-old, Brady was at Candlestick Park for "The Catch," the Montana-to-Dwight Clark touchdown in the 1982 NFC championship game that propelled the 49ers to their first Super Bowl appearance.
Montana went on to win four Super Bowls, and now he has more company, because on a beautiful evening with the roof at University of Phoenix Stadium open wide for Super Bowl XLIX, Brady had one of his finest performances. Trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter against the NFL's No. 1 defense, Brady threw two touchdown passes to rally the Patriots to a stunning 28-24 victory over the defending champion Seahawks.
"I couldn't believe it," Brady said of the championship-saving interception. "For a rookie to make a play like that in the Super Bowl and win us the game was incredible."
Brady, Montana and Terry Bradshaw are the only quarterbacks to win four Super Bowls. Patriots coach Bill Belichick joins Chuck Noll as the only coaches with four titles. Brady, who threw four touchdown passes and completed 37 of 50 passes for 328 yards, was named Super Bowl MVP for the third time, matching Montana's record. He was at his best with the game on the line, completing 13 of 15 passes on the final two touchdown drives.
The Seahawks, who made a gutsy call to go for a touchdown from the 11-yard line with six seconds remaining in the second quarter, made a horrendous decision to have Wilson throw from the 1 with 26 seconds remaining and one timeout. It will go down as one of the all-time second-guessed calls in the history of the Super Bowl.
Battering ram Marshawn Lynch had run for 4 of his 102 yards on the previous snap, and Wilson's throw in tight quarters was easily challenged by Butler, who played Division II football at West Alabama. Butler said he recognized a passing formation even at that position on the field and saw Wilson looking his way.
"I thought it was a good call," said Wilson, who threw for 247 yards despite completing only 12 of 21 passes. "I thought we could have scored a touchdown."
Coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell both rushed to take blame for the call and players were criticizing it moments after the conclusion.
"I'm a little bit surprised," cornerback Richard Sherman said.
The game looked about over when Jermaine Kearse made a circus catch from his back after Butler deflected the ball and it went off Kearse's left leg before he bobbled it and secured it for a 33-yard gain to the 5-yard line. It was a freak play like the one the Giants' David Tyree made here against the Patriots in the Super Bowl following the 2007 season when he pinned an Eli Manning pass against his helmet with Rodney Harrison draped all over him.
Lynch got his one run and then Wilson made an uncharacteristic mistake.
The fourth championship in 14 years for the Patriots comes after two weeks of scrutiny with an NFL investigation ongoing into improperly inflated footballs in the AFC championship victory over the Colts. Owner Robert Kraft boldly declared at the start of the week that the league would owe his team an apology if no wrongdoing is found.
"The first one we won (following the 2001 season) I thought was pretty special because it happened at a unique time in our country," said Kraft, referencing the 9/11 attacks. "I never thought a trophy could feel as special, but this one absolutely does."
After losing their last two Super Bowl appearances to the Giants, the victory was important when defining the legacy of the 37-year-old Brady, who was intercepted twice.
"You hear him say 'the next one' when he's asked what his favorite Super Bowl is," said wide receiver Julian Edelman, who made the game-winning touchdown catch. "I guess this is it."
Twitter @Brad Biggs