Tom Brady is not defending a championship this postseason. He has not defended a championship for a long time. But he is protecting something else: His legacy, his franchise's greatness, and maybe even a classic quarterback style of play.
The next generation of quarterbacks surrounds Brady, ready to make this Super Bowl their own. San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick is 25 and part man, part Learjet. Atlanta's Matt Ryan is 27 and just had an MVP-quality year. Joe Flacco turns 28 this week, is entering his third AFC championship game, and just outplayed Peyton Manning on the road.
They are all looking for their place in football history. Brady already has his.
But he wants more.