Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady recently retired with seven championships to his name, but the comparisons do not end there when it comes to former NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson.
NFL quarterback Tom Brady and NASCAR Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson may be forever linked in that they both won seven championships in their respective careers.
Brady’s last Super Bowl title came on his own terms with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, after he left the New England Patriots following a 20-year run.
Johnson, on the other hand, experienced his success all with the same racing team in Hendrick Motorsports. Though Brady only won six titles with head coach Bill Belichick, Johnson won all seven of his with crew chief Chad Knaus. Yet both of these duos split up before the athletes retired.
Both splits that occurred among these powerhouse duos came as a result of each side moving in a different direction shortly before retirement.
However, Knaus and Johnson never really made a case for themselves in terms of which one outperformed the other after parting ways in the way that Brady and Belichick did after their 2020 split, with Brady winning the Super Bowl in his first season with the Buccaneers.
After their 2018 split, Johnson won an exhibition race, the 2019 Clash, at Daytona International Speedway, while Knaus led another Hendrick Motorsports driver to victory lane when William Bryon won the 2020 Coke Zero 400 at the same track.
Knaus left his crew chief role after the 2020 season and now serves as the Hendrick Motorsports Vice President of Competition.
Both being seven-time champions in their sport will forever link the two, but their careers ended up in a similar fashion as well.
Brady’s last game came against the Los Angeles Rams in this January’s NFC Divisional Round, in which Brady and the Buccaneers found themselves down 27-3 in the second half.
In typical Brady fashion, the 44-year-old led the team, drive after drive, to fight back, capped off with a game-tying touchdown run by running back Leonard Fournette (and, of course, the extra point by Ryan Succop) .
Out of Brady’s control, he saw his chase for his eighth championship slip away when wide receiver Cooper Kupp caught a 44-yard pass from QB Matt Stafford to set up Rams kicker – former Buccaneers kicker – Matt Gay to kick a game-winning 30-yard field goal.
Johnson’s chase for what would have been a record-breaking eighth Cup Series championship saw a similar ending.
Needing a win or enough points to advance to the playoffs thanks to several earlier occurrences that left him behindhe drove through the field of the regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway, avoiding accidents in the process – only for something out of his control to end his chase for eight: the infamous Daytona “big one.”
Brady’s retirement differs from Johnson, however, as Brady will leave the game of football behind completely while Johnson still races but in a different series. He is slated to run a full-time IndyCar schedule for Chip Ganassi Racing this year after running only the road and street course races as a rookie in 2021.
But the comparisons are endless. Both are considered legends of their sports, both are seven-time champions, and both competitors gave one last run at an eighth title but watched it slip away.