“Your men love you. If I knew nothing else about you, that would be enough” – Prince Edward (to Heath Ledger/William) “A Knights Tale”.

We know a lot about Tom Brady, and there are so many reasons to hate him. He cheated. He is a good friend of of the person most centered in the cross-hairs of the ire of many right now. He’s married to (according to us) the woman who possesses the most robust combination of  wealth and beauty of any woman in the world. That pretty much covers it for many of us. Such a variety of targets he gives  — “Deflate-gate”, the coziness with the Donald, and the fact that he possesses (almost literally) everything that women want and men covet.

If we scour a bit further though, we discover that Brady isn’t one of those guys who was “born on 3rd base and thought he hit a triple”. He didn’t even start as a QB in college (University of Michigan) until his senior year. He was drafted in the 6th round in the 2000 NFL draft. He infamously ran a 5.28 40 yard dash at the 2000 NFL Scouting Combine. Seventeen years later, in today’s NFL, not only would he have not been drafted, he likely would not have even sniffed a tryout with an NFL team.

Here he is though, seventeen years later, being hailed this week as “the greatest quarterback in NFL history” – most saying that he has surpassed Joe Montana for that distinction. What happened? He got drafted by a coach who saw something when no one else did (don’t discount that). He worked his butt off. He changed his diet. He transformed himself. He is still chided often for his lack of foot speed, but ask any defensive coach in the NFL — no quarterback has ever run the QB sneak better. What?

Perhaps most important, no one who has ever been a teammate of his has an unkind word to say. He’s a leader, he’s an encourager, he’s a model citizen, he’s an example. A long time teammate summed up Brady this way:

To former wideout Troy Brown, the Patriots’ second all-time leading receiver, Brady is simply the best. Brown, who has done a few hundred interviews about Brady over the years, said that the most common topic is always Brady’s off-field persona. “You don’t really see him like Peyton Manning, all up in all those commercials,” Brown said. “You don’t see him out. He’s always giving the politically correct answer. So people always want to know what he’s really like. Does he have a sense of humor? I tell them, ‘What you see right there, that’s Tom. He’s a regular dude.’ ”

“He could be doing a million ads, but that’s not him. Maybe that’s why people seem to like Peyton Manning more than they like Tom Brady. I always tell Tom he’s funny, he can be a comedian, he should do more commercials. I’m sure he would be more popular if he did.”

The Atlanta Falcons are facing the greatest QB ever Sunday, who is, at age 39, still in his prime, and despite how the rest of us may feel, his teammates love him. The Falcons are also facing the greatest coach of all time in Bill Bellichick. Their task is daunting to say the least. As discussed though in preview #1 last week, the Falcons have “brothership” on their side. They are Matt Ryan and Julio Jones and a supporting cast that coach Quinn says that he prefers to encourage with “bumper sticker” lingo. The Falcons are fast though — the fastest team that the Pats will see this season, by far. The Falcons had the best offense in the NFL this season. The Pats had the best defense (points allowed). That exact match up (best offense vs. best defense) has occurred 6 times in NFL history. The team with the best defense has won 5 of 6.

Vegas (for those who care) says that the Pats will win by 3. Your Mockingbird sports editor is an insane Falcon fan, and yet a realist (usually).

So against all the heart tugs here, the Patriots will win 33-31. So bet the Falcons for the cash, but bet the transformed Tom Brady for the win.