ATLANTA (Reuters) - Whether it is heads of state, endangered species or Fort Knox there are few things in this world better protected than New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
And keeping Brady safe will be a key on Sunday when the Patriots take on a ruthless Los Angeles Rams defence led by Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh in the Super Bowl.
The problem facing the Rams is that Patriots Trent Brown, Marcus Cannon, Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney and David Andrews have provided a virtual force field around the 41-year-old Brady allowing him to go about his work undisturbed.
In playoff wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, who also boast strong defences, Brady was not sacked once, with his offensive line doing such a complete job that he did not even need to have his jersey laundered.
Brady offered proof posting a picture of his spotless jersey on Instagram following New England’s AFC title game win over the Chiefs with the tagline; “Not even 1 grass stain!”.
“I love that group,” said Brady. “I have so many great guys that I play with up front.
“They’re sole job is to protect me and help our offense block for the running backs. It is the most unselfish job on the team.”
Brady rarely ventures outside of his protective cocoon. This season, after 19 years in the league, he finally surpassed 1,000 rushing yards. For his entire career.
But Brady has not steered the Patriots to three consecutive Super Bowl appearances and four in the last five years with his legs, he has done it with his arm.
To do that Brady requires time and that has been provided by an offensive line that has exceeded all expectations.
After losing All-Star Nate Solder to free agency, the Patriots line looked like it was in for a rebuild but New England coach Bill Belichick cobbled together a unit of late round draft picks that has become one of the NFL’s best.
Thuney, a third-round pick and Mason a fourth round selection, Cannon a fifth rounder, Brown a seventh and Andrews, an undrafted unrestricted free agent form a 1,633 pound (741 kg) wall protecting Brady.
“They played as well as any offensive line all season, they have really come together,” praised Brady. “We’ve been able to play the game on our terms and that includes being able to run it and throw it on our terms.
“Our line has done and incredible job all year but we have the biggest test of the year coming up.”