Party like it's 2002: What's changed in pop culture since Tom Brady made his first Super Bowl?

Akshay Mirchandani
·3-min read

Tom Brady is back in the Super Bowl for the 10th time at 43 years old.

Nineteen years ago, a 24-year-old Brady led the Patriots to a win against the Rams in his very first Super Bowl.

Much has changed since then football-wise — Brady’s in a different uniform for the first time in his career and is widely considered the GOAT after two decades of dominance.

What about the rest of the sports and pop culture world? Here’s a snapshot of what it looked like in 2002 when Brady first played in the big game.

A snapshot of what pop culture looked like in 2002.
A snapshot of what pop culture looked like in 2002.

Patrick Mahomes: Let’s start with Brady’s counterpart on the Kansas City Chiefs. Mahomes was 6 when Brady appeared in Super Bowl XXXVI. What’s even more mind-blowing is that Mahomes’ father, Pat, was still an active MLB pitcher. He appeared in 16 games for the Chicago Cubs during the 2002 season.

The Rams’ location: What about Brady’s opponent in that first Super Bowl? The Rams were still based in St. Louis and were quarterbacked by Kurt Warner.

The Rams have since moved back to Los Angeles, and played Brady again in Super Bowl LIII in 2019, when they lost again.

Music: The year in music started strange in 2002, with Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” beginning the year atop the charts. After that? Nothing but classics.

Eminem dropped his album “The Eminem Show” featuring “Till I Collapse.” Nelly came through with “Nellyville” featuring “Hot in Herre.” An upstart band named Maroon 5 released their debut album “Songs About Jane” and Justin Timberlake broke away from NSYNC and dropped his first solo album “Justified.”

Avril Lavigne, Vanessa Carlton, Ashanti, Ja Rule and Usher all put out hits as well.

Movies: Superheroes and big-budget franchise sequels dominated the 2002 box office. So, not much has changed.

“Spider-Man” was the top earner at the box office and was the first movie in a trilogy starring Tobey Magurie as the web-slinger. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” and “Men in Black II” were high-profile followups in pre-established franchises.

“Scooby-Doo” made his live-action debut, while “Ice Age” began its franchise. A sixth “Ice Age” movie is set to release in 2022 — 20 years after the original.

Television: “The Bachelor” and “American Idol” both debuted in 2002 with Kelly Clarkson winning the latter.

While those two pop culture staples began, another was nearing the end of its run — “Friends” had two seasons left. “The Wire” also hit the small screen in 2002 as one of the first classic HBO shows. Dr. Phil began his talkshow, while “Made” premiered on MTV.

There were a few animated classics, too. “Kim Possible” and “Jimmy Neutron” both debuted, while “Spongebob Squarepants” was in the middle of its third season.

But the most watched television broadcast of the year? Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl.

Celebrities: What were some of our current biggest stars up to in 2002?

Jay-Z and Beyonce are one of America’s power couples today, but their relationship was only a rumor in 2002.

NSYNC decided to break up, with Timberlake going out on his own. It wasn’t the only breakup Timberlake was involved in, as he and Britney Spears broke off their relationship that year as well.

And, by the way, Timberlake turned 40 on Jan. 31 — just a week before Brady’s latest Super Bowl appearance.

Feel old yet?

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