Top NFL Revenge Games: Where Tom Brady beating Bill Belichick would rank on all-time list

There's plenty of drama for Tom Brady vs. Bill Belichick, but where does it rank among the top NFL revenge games of all time?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has played it exactly right this week when asked about his emotions of returning to Foxborough to face Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Despite the matchup having all the makings of an all-time top NFL revenge game, Brady has taken the high road about his departure.

However, this is the most honest thing he’s said all week: “I still have a lot of great friends there, but they know I want to kick their butt this week. They’ll know exactly how I’m feeling once I’m out there.”

Brady beating Belichick would be one of the greatest revenge moments in NFL history. But would it be No. 1?

NFL’s greatest revenge games

The league is over a century old, so if there was some epic beef between the Muncie Flyers and the Rock Island Jeffersons, sorry, but we missed it. There’s been more than enough drama in the last four decades to fill 10 lists of all-time football feuds and the games that defined them.

1. Jon Gruden super slams Al Davis

Before Jon Gruden’s second act as the Raiders’ head coach, he and legendary Oakland/Los Angeles owner Al Davis had a legendary divorce.

Davis traded Gruden — yes, coaches can be traded like players — to Tampa Bay in early 2002 even though the then-39-year-old wunderkind had made the AFC title game the previous year.

Fate gave us this tasty twist just 12 months later: Tampa Bay and Oakland met in Super Bowl 37, with Gruden’s Bucs beating his old team (and many of the players he picked and developed) for their first world championship.

2. Joe Cool ices George Seifert

Joe Montana deserved better. The San Francisco 49ers largely owe four of their five Lombardi trophies to Montana, who was unceremoniously shown the door after 14 unmatched seasons. George Seifert wanted to play Steve Young, and the best way to make that transition was by getting Montana out of town.

That happened on April 20, 1993, when the Niners traded Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs. Montana had to wait a year and a half to have his dish served cold. But on Sept. 11, 1994, Seifert and the 49ers made a scheduled trip to Arrowhead for a game that was at least as anticipated then as Brady-Belichick is now.

Montana completed 19-of-31 passes for 203 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead the Chiefs past his old team 24-17 in one of his final NFL games.

3. Falcons get prime-timed

Deion Sanders’ long goodbye to the city of Atlanta came in 1994. After playing for both the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Falcons from 1991-1993, he signed a mega-deal with the 49ers. Then, a few months later was traded to the Cincinnati Reds.

His first NFL game back in Atlanta was Oct. 16, and it was a wild one. It began with a legendary on-field brawl with former teammate and occasional rival Andre Rison, and it ended with a 39-point Niners beatdown of his former team.

The game’s signature moment came in between. It wasn’t the fight, but Sanders staring down the Falcons’ sideline and high-stepping into the end zone late in the first half after intercepting Jeff George. The pick-six went for 93 yards and might be the signature play of Sanders’ stellar career.

4. Brett Favre returns to Lambeau

Want a sneak peek of what it’ll look like when future Aaron Rodgers returns to Lambeau Field as a member of a team other than the Green Bay Packers? Probably a lot like when Brett Favre did the same on Nov. 1, 2009.

It had been nearly two years since Green Bay moved on from Favre (well, in truth, Favre moved on from Green Bay first by retiring, only to unretire months later). But after one forgettable year with the Jets, Favre was back in the NFC North with the Vikings — who play in Green Bay every fall.

Everyone rushed to check the schedule for that game when it came out, and the date was set. Favre, who’s nothing if not a showman, didn’t disappoint, lighting up his old team for 4 touchdowns in a blowout Vikings win.

5. A deflating Super Bowl for Tom Brady haters

We can’t have Brady on this list twice, so this entry will fall off if Tom Terrific wins Sunday. But it had to be so satisfying for Brady to receive the Lombardi from Roger Goodell in February 2017 — after Goodell made him serve a four-game suspension for allegedly conspiring to deflate footballs to gain a competitive edge.

A Brady win over Belichick would rank …

… second on this list. A revenge win for a championship cannot be topped. But Seifert was right to move on from Montana, who was a player in decline. Belichick should never have let his and the Patriots’ relationship with the best player of all time fall apart — but particularly not with him still playing at a very high level.

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