UNH professor Mike McCann: Brady changed a franchise

Feb. 2—Tom Brady changed the legacy of the New England Patriots franchise, according to University of New Hampshire professor Michael McCann.

Brady, 44, retired on Tuesday after 22 seasons as the all-time winningest quarterback (243 regular-season wins) and with the most Super Bowl rings (seven) and appearances (10) by a quarterback in NFL history. Each of the Patriots' six Super Bowl trophies and nine of their 11 Super Bowl appearances came with Brady under center.

McCann, the director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at UNH's Franklin Pierce Law School, a legal expert for Sportico and an attorney, said Brady's impact on football is comparable to that of Michael Jordan's on basketball.

Brady also had an extraordinary effect on New Englanders, McCann said.

"No player in my lifetime, at least — there's no one like him," McCann said. "David Ortiz was certainly a transformative figure but I don't think to this degree. There have been other athletes in New England that have dominated — Larry Bird, of course. ... but I think he will be remembered as an iconic figure that changed a sport, changed a fan base from a region, that has made fans that are sticking with the (Patriots) despite he's no longer there and the team is no longer at the top."

McCann, 45, taught a course at UNH for four years starting in 2015 that looked at "Deflategate," one of the more infamous Patriots moments during Brady's tenure, from a labor law perspective.

The class discussed Brady's rights as a union member, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's role as an arbitrator and the science of the controversy, which surrounded whether or not the Patriots intentionally deflated footballs during their victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC championship game.

"Students, they loved the class," McCann said. "We had the Patriots' chief outside counsel speak. We invited the NFL to speak — they didn't speak. We had (MIT professor) Dr. (John) Leonard. We had journalists come in that covered the Patriots. I think students really loved the interactivity of the course."

McCann said if he were to teach another class involving Brady, it would likely be a business course about how star athletes and entertainers transition into the business world during or after retiring from their profession.

Brady mentioned the three companies he co-founded, BRADY, TB12 Sports and Autograph, in his retirement announcement on social media.

McCann said he expects Brady will focus more on his businesses now and eventually return to the NFL as either a part owner or follow fellow legendary quarterback John Elway and become a team president.

"I think he stays in the NFL in some capacity with a team, that he remains a presence," McCann said. "But I don't think he'll do anything instantly. ... He's earned a healthy break and he can decide what he wants to do after."