Shawn Michaels will be keeping a watchful eye on Tom Brady at Super Bowl LV.
Brady will be making a record 10th Super Bowl appearance, seeking his seventh championship, but he enters this year’s game in unfamiliar territory. No longer part of the New England Patriots, Brady is representing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Kansas City Chiefs, who are the NFL’s defending champions.
The 43-year-old Brady threw for three touchdowns in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers, but he was also intercepted three times. He will need to be at the top of his game to beat the Chiefs, like he has so many times before on this stage. A dozen years ago, Michaels was also 43 years old when he entered the ring at WrestleMania 25 for his match against The Undertaker. The 30-minute match still stands as a masterpiece, one of wrestling’s most compelling bouts on the biggest stage possible.
“Your age, that number, it drives you,” said Michaels, whose career, like Brady’s, makes a convincing argument for greatest of all-time. “Before that match, Undertaker and I acknowledged that people on the card were younger, faster and even better, so we tapped into our strength. We harnessed experience, 20 years of a backstory, and focused on what we did best.”
Despite significant differences between pro football and pro wrestling, Michaels sees connective tissue between his recipe for success at WrestleMania 25 and the steps Brady needs to take in order to ensure another Super Bowl victory.
“I know the two worlds are very different, but we knew how to tell the story and Brady knows how to win the game,” said Michaels. “If Brady is great on Sunday, it’s not going to be because of his scrambling ability or long runs. He’s going to have to play to the best of his ability, doing what he does best. That was the same premise behind what I did, which wasn’t X’s and O’s like football. I knew, in order to be great, I had to play into the storytelling aspect of wrestling.”
Brady is set to square off against Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, considered by many as the league’s premier quarterback. The Chiefs’ offense also features the brilliant play of wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce, with another advantage in head coach Andy Reid.
“On paper, you have to give the edge to the Chiefs,” said Michaels. “I would have thought the same sort of thing in a match with a younger star. The Chiefs are so talented, that offensive is nearly unstoppable. They possess everything they need to win a second straight Super Bowl. But there is something to be said about performing on this stage so many times before, and Brady has done that.”
Brady and Mahomes have met in the playoffs once before, which was two years ago when the Patriots went into Arrowhead Stadium and claimed an overtime victory against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship en route to another Super Bowl title. Michaels also shared plenty of history at WrestleMania before his match with The Undertaker, crafting unforgettable bouts with Bret Hart, Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle.
“I’ve heard so many people say, ‘I’m so tired of seeing Tom Brady in the Super Bowl,’” said Michaels. “That’s made me laugh. Sorry, he’s the greatest to ever play the game, and here he is, doing it again. And there’s just no comparing that experience. It’s a different type of knowledge from being there so many times before.”
Back on the biggest stage possible, Michaels believes Brady will seize the moment in a manner very few ever have–or can.
“Just like I had the luxury of so many different matches at WrestleMania, Brady’s been here before,” said Michaels. “That played into my advantage, and I think we’ll see it help Brady in the Super Bowl.”