Tom Brady plans on playing into his 50s, so it's rare to catch him in a moment of introspection now.
But Monday on WEEI-FM, he did just that after the hosts asked him if he could ever imagine reaching his 10th AFC Championship Game (which will take place this Sunday in Denver). As CSN New England noted, that is more than 27 franchises have in their history.
"It's beyond what I'd ever imagined in my wildest dreams," Brady said. "I remember the first one I ever participated in, which was in Pittsburgh. We had to fly there on a Friday. I missed Friday of practice so I could do a press conference at the site of the game. It was the first time it really felt like, wow, this is a big deal.
"Fifteen years later, to be a part of 10 of those, I never imagined that any of this was ever even possible. I just knew that I loved the game, and I played with so many great teammates who have, like I said, sacrificed so much. When you play with teammates like I have and you see what they go through over the course of the season, what they deal with in their lives personally, how that reacts to them professionally, kind of the blood, sweat and tears you put into it, you never take it for granted."
Because Brady is attached at the hip with head coach Bill Belichick, he might never get enough credit for the individual work and effort he put into the run -- especially over the last few years. And because we have such a small sample size of what the Patriots' offense looks like without Brady under center during the Belichick era, his hand in the accomplishments might never be 100 percent appreciated.
The word dynasty is not thrown around in football much anymore. There have not been back-to-back champions since the Patriots back in XXXVIII and XXXIX. But Brady has become more than just the purveyor of a dynasty. This is an institution, and even though it's beyond Brady's wildest dreams, it's one he had a large part in creating.