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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tom Brady, Best Ever?

     Now that we've all shaken off our hangover's and have properly thanked Pete Carroll for passing up a victory, it's time to discuss where Tom Brady stands in the history of the game. Now as a 23 year old guy, I admit that anyone on the same level as Brady, I haven't really seen play, aside from Peyton Manning. Unless you want to be a real dick and come at me with Brett Favre or Drew Brees. But that will not stop me from discussing this as though I know exactly what I'm talking about. While I never got to really watch Joe Montana or Dan Marino, and only watched the very end of John Elway's career, I can at least give the logical argument on Brady's behalf. And yes, those are the only names in the discussion. Terry Bradshaw won four Super Bowl's but two of them were prior to te merger's rule changes, and his numbers just don't stack up.
     I will say that Super Bowl victories do not tell the whole story. I've had enough of people trying to tell me that Eli Manning is more than Archie's simple boy who is the product of nepotism, just because he has two rings. But to get four, in the era of salary cap and free agency, is a different level. And to get to six is something no one has ever done. There are people that will point out Brady's two Super Bowl losses and losses in the AFC Championship game as blemishes that Montana doesn't have on his record.  What you're saying is, it's more impressive to win four Super Bowl's and never have another season close, than to consistently be right in the mix of the best four teams in the league. It's also hard to ignore that all of Montana's success came along side the greatest receiver of all time in Jerry Rice. While Brady had his best statistical season with a guy who was close to Rice, talent wise, Randy Moss, in Brady's four wins he never had a big name deep threat. The closest argument you can make is this year, at age 37, with a great tight end in Rob Gronkowski. And let's note that in that game, he threw to four different receivers. Vintage Brady.
     Now as I said, Super Bowl's don't entirely make the man. We could go for a while listing guys like Trent Dilfer and Rob Johnson who have a ring. And I think, if you gave me some time to work out, I could've won with the '85 Bears. Joe Namath was put in the Hall of Fame, I'm convinced solely because he had a few wobbly pops and correctly predicted the Jets would win. While Dan Marino was a far better player and never won one. So let's go down the only road Peyton Manning fans are still allowed to drive on. Statistically Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, and in some instances, Brett Favre have slightly better numbers than Brady. But let's look at that closer. I kick Favre out of the argument because he has just as many completed passes to opposing cornerbacks as he did anyone on the Packers. But this is where it's tough to argue against Manning and Marino. But when Brady was paired with Randy Moss, he set a record for touchdowns in a season and lead the Patriots to a 16-0 regular season. While Manning has put up even better regular season stats and more consistently over the years, no one has had the mix of record numbers and wins the way Tom Brady has. While Manning did get his ring, it's hard to ignore his chronic ability to shit his pants in big situations.
     In the end, I think it comes down to who you grew up watching. As much as we all like to pretend we have a real answer, none of us have studied all the greats from each era. People who watched Montana in the 80's would probably say that that's when football was pure and Montana did it better than anyone. Those who saw Manning put up insane numbers on a yearly basis may take that over the joy of spraying champagne after a win that means something. But after Sunday, February 1, 2015, it's hard to say that anyone has played in the NFL at a higher level than Tom Brady.

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