TAMPA, Fla. -- The celebration started Sunday with 1:40 left in Super Bowl LV. Buccaneers linebacker Devin White had just intercepted Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the end zone, and Tom Brady came high-stepping onto the field.
Yes, a 43-year-old quarterback can still get his knees up high.
Brady met his defensive teammates at around the 20-yard line -- a defense largely responsible for this 31-9 Tampa Bay victory against Kansas City at Raymond James Stadium -- and slapped hands with nearly all of them. And then it was time to do something the entire NFL is all too familiar with.
Brady went into victory formation. After three kneel downs, Brady and the Buccaneers were Super Bowl champions, with Brady being named the MVP.
"This has been an amazing year," Brady said. "Just really proud of all the guys. All the coaches. The effort we put in. You want to get this far and get the job done, and we did it."
For Brady, this was something similar but different, all at the same time. He won his seventh Super Bowl title in 10 tries. He was the MVP for the fifth time. Both are NFL records.
But all of those previous Super Bowl victories and MVP honors came with the Patriots. This one came after one season with the Buccaneers, and he's the oldest player to ever play in a Super Bowl, let alone win one. He's also the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl in his home stadium. It was another amazing feat in an amazing career for Brady, who is deserving of being called the GOAT.
He's now won a Super Bowl title in three different decades. And he's now proven he can win a championship without Bill Belichick.
"It's hard to do what he did," Mike Evans said. "To come without an offseason, learn a new system as a quarterback -- the hardest position in all of team sports -- and to just pick it up like he's been running this offense for a long time. Obviously, we got better as the year went on, but man, Tom's the GOAT for a reason. He played great all year. We needed him to do that, and we got the goal that we were aiming for."
Against the Chiefs, Brady was 21 of 29 passing for 201 yards and three touchdowns. He connected for two touchdowns with Rob Gronkowski, who joined Brady in Tampa Bay from New England after coming out of retirement. And his third touchdown went to Antonio Brown, who Brady wanted with him on the Buccaneers.
It wasn't a dominant game or even Brady's best Super Bowl performance. But he outplayed Mahomes after beating Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl, and Brady stood proudly on the podium holding another trophy.
During the postgame celebration on the field, Brady said simply, "I'll be back." Even though he'll be 44, that seems like bad news for the rest of the NFL.
"He just played outstanding the whole ball game," Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said of Brady. "Just did a great job."
Added receiver Chris Godwin: "Tom was hitting on all of this passes. It was awesome. It was awesome to see."
The conversation surrounding Brady now goes from greatest football player of all time to possibly the greatest athlete of all time. He now has one more championship than Michael Jordan, and Brady will be compared to other great athletes in other sports throughout history.
Brady didn't want to talk about that after the game. He's not worried about his legacy yet. For now, he's just about collecting trophies.
Two years ago in Atlanta, I walked out of the interview room into the tunnel under Mercedes-Benz Stadium when the Patriots had just beaten the Rams in Super Bowl LIII. Brady was right in front of me holding the Lombardi Trophy and surrounded by a mob of people.
He said, looking down at the trophy, "how did I end up with this?" That was Brady's sixth Super Bowl trophy at the time, and not many people expected him to get another one.
But then came Sunday. And Brady is a champion once again.