Tom Brady has built a legacy as big as it gets. In 2017, after winning his fifth championship ring in his seventh Super Bowl (51), he surpassed both his boyhood idol Joe Montana and Pittsburgh Steelers’ great Terry Bradshaw, who each have one ring less than Brady. Even the Patriots’ 2018 loss in Super Bowl 52 does not undermine Brady’s brilliance. Looking at Brady’s almost two-decades-long professional career begs the question as to whether he should be called the best quarterback (QB) in NFL history.
Here are three arguments why he should and shouldn’t be considered the best:
3 reasons why Brady is the best
Brady`s ability to control and command the field
Being a QB is not just about displaying football skills; it`s about showing leadership and guts. It`s about commanding the situation, knowing what`s best for your team and taking control. No one commands the field better than Brady. Win or lose, his ability to think situations through in milliseconds and execute decisions decisively is incomparable. Patriots coach Bill Belichick explains: “It [his preparation] is consistent every week in terms of learning the defense… their schemes and their players… he has a lot of experience against defensive coordinators, different players, and different situations. He’s able to put it together better than any player that I’ve coached…”
5 rings can`t be deflated
Much of the Patriots` success should be attributed to Brady`s football skills and composure. Despite past controversies, both alleged (Deflate-gate) and confirmed (Spygate), they had minimal impact on the Patriots’ success. (Worth mentioning is that the 2015 AFC championship 45-7 win was not achieved due to underinflated footballs). Thus, these incidents should not taint Brady`s legacy, especially as he won three titles before those scandals and led his team in 2017 to the biggest comeback in the Super Bowl history after — not to mention competing again in the 2019 Super Bowl.
Here is a tweet by a guy who knows a thing or two about winning titles (notice the #muse tag):
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) February 6, 2017
He shows legendary resilience
Brady`s 2016-17 season has all the drama of a great story. During his four-game suspension in the beginning of the season, he still practiced the same schedule as his teammates. He entered that season as a 39-year-old, knowing it might be his last chance to win his fifth ring. Above all stands his mother`s illness. She was diagnosed with cancer and Brady traveled as often as possible to visit her. The first game she attended in the 2016-17 season was Super Bowl 51. During that game, he crafted the biggest comeback in the history of the Super Bowls and won the MVP title. It`s a dramatic story to be told, and his resilience is what legends are made of. In 2018, despite being 40 years old and losing Super Bowl 52, his resilience was still rock strong, as proven by his ability to take his team to Super Bowl 53. Tom Brady is, indeed, a football legend.
3 reasons why Brady is great but not the best
Brady has had Belichick and the Patriots’ legendary defense
Brady has had the benefit of playing with the powerful Patriots’ defense. His first three Super Bowls have to be attributed to the legendary Patriots’ defense (which included current and future Hall of Famers like Ty Law and Otis Smith) more than to Brady`s skills.
Moreover, that defense was guided by one of the greatest coaches of all time, Bill Belichick. The all-powerful Belichick, who led the Patriots to only one losing season in his 15 years as head coach, can make the extraordinary out of the ordinary, like taking a sixth-round pick QB and make him one of the best ever. Thus, Brady`s legacy should really be attributed to Belichick and his team’s defense.
Brady plays in an easier era
New rules and regulations make the game softer and QB life easier. It`s no secret that during the 70`s and the 80`s, NFL defenses were bigger, tougher and meaner. The game was harder for the QBs back then as the stats reflects.
Today’s rules generally favor passing the ball and offense, making it easier for the QB to shine. Thus, QBs like Brady and Peyton Manning are more efficient. There is no way to know how great Brady would have been if he had played in the tougher era, but his stats would most likely not be as impressive, and he probably wouldn’t have five Super Bowl championship rings.
Joe Montana is better
There can only be one “Best NFL QB,” and Joe Montana is it. He had a bigger impact on the 49ers, leading them from a 2-14 record to a Super Bowl within two years. Brady fit into a great team that was never that low. Montana never lost a Super Bowl, unlike Brady, and never threw a single interception (!) in the biggest game worldwide. Meanwhile, Brady has lost two finals, and if it weren’t for that weird call on the Tuck game, he would have one ring less, many thanks to his fumble. Montana even outplayed Brady’s last play in the 2017 Super Bowl. At Super Bowl 23, Montana led his team 92 years in three minutes for the winning touchdown. Meanwhile, Brady isn’t a better clutch and isn’t better than the 49er’s legend.
The Bottom Line: While Tom Brady has led the Patriots to many season and Super Bowl victories despite personal and team challenges, does he really deserve to be considered the greatest QB of all time? Should other factors be considered before putting him on such a pedestal? Who do you consider a QB legend?