As a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan, I've had mixed emotions about NFL quarterback Tom Brady, not all of them negative. Let me explain.

Eagles fans may question my loyalty for what I'm about to write, but they shouldn't. I mean, it took two times to make it happen, but ultimately Philly defeated Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2018.

Like many, I've been a Brady hater. Ya know, sometimes it's hard to see the same athlete and team win and win over and over. I often felt sour about Tom Brady and the New England Patriots because it felt like they were greedy. But, in retrospect, what could I have done about THAT? Literally nothing.

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Then, there were the cheating scandals. First, the secretive filming of opposing team practices. Then, came 'deflate-gate'. So, my lack of respect for Brady and Bill Belichick deepened because I thought they were playing the game with dirty hands.

Oh, and then there were the two Super Bowls in which the Eagles faced the Patriots. The first matchup in 2005 didn't end very well for Philly, losing by just three points. The action was so intense I ended up hiding underneath a sound console with a newspaper over my head because I just couldn't watch.

Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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In 2018, we faced the 'GOAT' again. But, this time I knew he wasn't infallible. Brady has lost two Super Bowls to the NY Giants. They were his kryptonite. Ultimately, in a hard-fought victory that included the 'Philly Special' play, the Eagles took down Brady and the Patriots 41-33. That victory felt sweeter BECAUSE we beat Brady, because we beat THE BEST.

A short time later I discovered Tom's T2 fitness regimen and meal program. I became astounded and obsessed by his routine and what it took to be able to play football at a competitive level after the age of 40, and what it took for Brady's body to recover after each game. He was METHODICAL in a way that not only made sense to me, but that left me in awe.

I began watching and reading interviews with Tom Brady and found him to be driven, dedicated, humble, and SMART, both as a football player and a family man.

When his docuseries 'Man in the Arena' premiered on ESPN+ (a series I cannot recommend highly enough), I got to hear his perspective (and that of fellow athletes he Tom played alongside and against), and I understood why he has earned the label of 'Greatest of All Time'. His success has been EARNED and DESERVED. He somehow turned me into enough of a fan that I was rooting for Tampa Bay to go to the Super Bowl again (as long as the Eagles couldn't, lol), and felt saddened by his retirement announcement this week.

So, yes, Tom Brady has meant to me, an Eagles fan, an adversary, but now I feel so lucky to have watched him play in the NFL during my lifetime.

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LOOK: 50 images of winning moments from sports history

Sometimes images are the best way to honor the figures we've lost. When tragedy swiftly reminds us that sports are far from the most consequential thing in life, we can still look back on an athlete's winning moment that felt larger than life, remaining grateful for their sacrifice on the court and bringing joy to millions.

Read on to explore the full collection of 50 images Stacker compiled showcasing various iconic winning moments in sports history. Covering achievements from a multitude of sports, these images represent stunning personal achievements, team championships, and athletic perseverance.