How Tom Brady and the Buccaneers fit the fictional hero journey arc

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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Brady and the Buccaneers winning the Super Bowl did feel like fiction.

Sure, we all know how the Buccaneers’ season was truly heroic. What, with Tom Brady coming on board, and then picking up a variety of key helpers along the way. In some ways, it can remind one of King Arthur and his knights as their quest for the Holy Grail, a hero story from fiction. And then, there are a vast number of hero stories from Greek mythology, and also Roman and Norse mythology.

It brings us to the question of whether fiction follows art; or vice versa.  It is likely as difficult a conundrum to unwind as which came first the chicken or the egg. But I think we can lay it to rest that the real-life hero came first, and that fiction merely picked up on the important points. The Novel Smithy parsed many hundreds of such stories and broke them down to 12 stages.

The following may seem strange, but it will show how Tampa Bay’s LV (grrr, Roman numerals) trip relates to the hero characters arc if you will.

Here are the 12 steps:

The Call to Adventure

All hero stories start with a call to adventure. Arthur seeks the Grail. Indiana Jones seeks the Ark. And so, we have it here. It is indeed the quest for the NFL Grail aka the Lombardi Trophy.  To get there, the coaching staff had to do some soul searching. Do we attempt to try again with a known flawed hero in Jameis Winston, or do we seek a new hero to fill in for him?

Refusing the Call

It wasn’t a tough choice, really. In fact, it came down to one stat. Yes, you got it, interceptions. Throughout the season, or at least near the end, Bucs Head Coach Bruce Arians mused often about whether he could win with one quarterback or another.  Mostly, he was running the potential heroes through that percolator he calls a brain.  In the end, he pulled together his power base and suggested they go after Tom Brady, who many other teams passed on for way too many bad reasons to list. So, when they refused Winston, Brady seemed like a good first choice. (Okay, so maybe that’s a stretch.)

Remember, dear reader, Super Bowl success windows are notoriously narrow.  The crew felt they already had a winner cast; they just needed the right leader. And here, right before their very eyes, was just such a commodity: Tom Brady.  Why not? In his absolute worst season, he didn’t throw anywhere near 30 INTs. In fact, the most he had thrown in one season was 14. He seemed ripe for the picking, but Brady to the Bucs was a humorous aside for the pundits. It was the butt of some jokes, as if why would Brady, already considered the Greatest of All Time (GOAT, in case you forgot) agree to play in Tampa.

It only took a phone call.  Jason Licht called Brady’s manager, and just like that, the Buccaneers had their hero.