Tom Brady's Super Bowl Victory Sparks Wave of Bill Belichick Jokes, Memes

When Tom Brady left the New England Patriots to sign for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March of last year many argued he was taking the biggest risk of his stellar career.

Brady, after all, was trading a team that had won six Super Bowl titles in two decades for one that had not reached the playoffs in 13 years and was leaving behind Bill Belichick, the most successful coach in NFL history.

Would Brady and Belichick finally be able to prove they could win without each other? Eleven months on, the former delivered an empathic answer, leading the Buccaneers to a memorable 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV to capture the seventh ring of his career, which makes him more successful than any of the 32 NFL franchises.

Belichick and New England, meanwhile, finished with a 7-9 record in the regular season, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

The eerie sense of familiarity for Patriots fans was compounded by seeing Rob Gronkowski play a crucial role on Sunday night.

The 31-year-old came out of retirement in the offseason to rejoin forces with Brady and caught six passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns against the Chiefs, adding a fourth ring to the three Super Bowl he won in New England.

Shortly after the Bucs clinched their second Super Bowl title, the Patriots paid tribute to their former stars.

"Congratulations to the greatest of all time," a post from the team's official Twitter account read.

While Brady was not mentioned by name, there could be no doubt as to whom the greatest of all time is.

"And Gronk, be careful with that trophy," the Patriots added in a separate tweet, a reference to Gronkowski denting the Vince Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl LIII.

While the Patriots were quick to recognize Brady and Gronkowski's success, social media was far less magnanimous towards Belichick as the duo combined to torch the Chiefs.

Belichick watching Brady win a ring without him @brgridiron

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 8, 2021

Bill Belichick is about to fire whoever running this account.

— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) February 8, 2021

Bill Belichick watching Gronk catch two touchdowns from Brady in the #SuperBowl

— Jake Asman (@JakeAsman) February 8, 2021

Belichick watching Brady and Gronk rn

— Reece Waddell (@ReeceWaddell15) February 8, 2021

For all their success, the pair did not always see eye-to-eye and grumblings of discontent between them grew louder in the quarterback's final seasons in New England.

The suggestion Brady had grown tired of Belichick's strict methods and of the lack of attacking weapons at his disposal was often cited as his main source of annoyance.

Despite winning an unprecedented six rings in New England, in some quarters Brady was criticized for being a "system quarterback". Brady, so the theory went, excelled because he played for a team coached by Belichick, not the other way around.

That notion was all but dismissed this season, as the 43-year-old quarterback took the Bucs back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years and only the second time in franchise history.

Brady now has more rings than Michael Jordan and his 10th Super Bowl appearance meant he has played in the Super Bowl more times than Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger combined.

As Tampa celebrated Super Bowl LV, some pointed out the famed "Patriot way" seemed to be distinctly less effective without Brady at quarterback.

Bill Belichick realizing that the “Patriot way” was actually the “Tom Brady way.”

— David Wysong (@DavidWysong_) February 8, 2021

The debate over who between Brady and Belichick was more responsible for the other's success may never be settled, but for the time being the former has titled the scale heavily in his favor.

That's what Brady had set out to do back in March.

"I've learned so much during my 20 years in New England—and I want to bring those things to a new team," he wrote in The Players' Tribune a month after leaving New England.

"Right now, though, I have things to prove to myself."

Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoists the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 7 in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9. Patrick Smith/Getty