Sean McVay and Tom Brady’s pasts align back to high school

In 2003, there were two quarterback hoisting trophies after leading their teams to championship victories.

One of them was 25-years-old, in his fourth season in the NFL and just led a game-winning drive resulting in a walk-off field goal to win Super Bowl XXXVIII.

The other was 16-years-old, a senior in high school and just scored the winning touchdown with a broken foot to win the Georgia 4A State Championship.

On February 3, these two will take the field together in Atlanta with one trying to replicate that 2003 success and hoist the Lombardi once again, while the other looks to upgrade from the piece of hardware he earned for a high school just 14 miles north of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“Some of my closest friends in life are guys that I was able to play high school football with,” Sean McVay said as his Los Angeles Rams prepare to head east. “It is unique that it’s in Atlanta, but we’re going there to try to win a football game and then there will be some people that are very special to me and my family that’ll get a chance to not have to travel too far to be there as well.”

Tom Brady and Sean McVay have taken different approaches to get to Super Bowl LIII, but both were effective.

Brady, now 41, has earned three more rings since picking up his second back in 2003. McVay, who turned 33 Thursday, gave up playing after college for a coaching career that now brings him to his first Super Bowl.

“A good birthday present would be let’s take care of business over the next couple weeks, put ourselves in a position to compete to the best of our ability,” McVay said with smiles.

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When McVay was leading the Marist School to its second state title, he was doing it as a dual-threat QB.

He was the first player in program history to both rush and throw for 1,000 yards in back-to-back years en route to edging out future Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson as the Georgia 4A Offensive Player of the Year his senior season— a season he tallied 1,128 rushing yards and 1,107 passing yards.

Brady, in his 19th season, has 1,003 career rushing yards.

Despite the difference in game play, there were still things McVay learned about the quarterback position from Brady without even recognizing it at the time.

“I don’t know if I had the kind of perspective back then to look at it from [the studying] standpoint, but what you did know was no moment was too big for him. Whether they were behind or in those crunch time moments, he was always at his best,” McVay said. “I’m so much a fan of his game and what Tom’s done is unbelievable.”

Instead of taking snaps under center, he will be relaying calls into the helmet of his QB Jared Goff. Goff, a year younger than Brady’s age in 2003, is looking for his third career playoff win while his counterpart is looking for his sixth championship.

“I think getting to this game nine times is unbelievable,” Goff said of Brady. “You can’t put into words how remarkable it is and everything he’s done and why he’s going to go down as the best of all time, if not one of the best of all time. Just so much respect for him and everything he’s done.”

But while Goff has the respect for his adversary, it’s not a situation that will be overwhelming to him:

“I was probably seven or eight years old when he was winning Super Bowls to begin with and now I get a chance to play in one with him. At the same time, we do respect him, but I’m going to go out there and do my best and be the best I can be and hopefully come out with a win.”

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Despite having 75 playoff appearances fewer than Brady, Goff has shown the experience is nothing that will slow him down. The third-year slinger is averaging over 240 yards per game and has thrown just one interception so far during this playoff campaign.

So now as McVay and Brady step one day closer to their meeting, a familiar result is also approaching.

However, unlike in 2003, only one will be able to call themselves a champion.