I write this blog knowing that it will draw some ire. Believe it or not, that is never my purpose when I put keystroke to screen. The reality is that while the sports fan has never been great at appreciating greatness in real-time, people in general have never held positions so steadfast and people’s opinions have never been so divided. Pizza is indisputably great yet, some a$$hole is always there for you to tell you it’s overrated (whatever that means) or that it’s cultural appropriation.
Still, I can say, having been born and grown up a sports fan in the Dan Marino/Joe Montana/Michael Jordan era, that Tom Brady is the greatest winner of all time. I saw this of course while acknowledging that wins are not a quarterback stat. Obviously the situation surrounding the athlete has a great impact on their success. We see the impact of coaching as Mark Jackson didn’t realize what he had in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. We’ve also seen organizational failure where we assume that any greatness that goes to the New York Jets has gone there to see their talent wasted and their careers’ wasted. Injuries can also derail a career like we’ve seen with many talented athletes who simply cannot stay healthy.
As I said, we also don’t appreciate greatness until the sepia laden visual memory builds and we begin to miss the hallmarks of our time. I’m old enough to remember an episode of NBA on NBC where Michael Jordan was all but accused of being a selfish ball hog and was considered a player with whom you couldn’t win a championship. Lebron James has been questioned in every move he’s made and the only flaw he has in his game (realistically) is that his name is not Jordan. Joe Montana dealt with the current crisis that currently faces Aaron Rodgers as the 49ers traded for Steve Young prior to the 1987 season.
Those who look to disparage Brady will draw attention to spending all that time alongside Bill Bellechick. However, as we established above, I don’t hold someone’s circumstances against them. Certainly in a parallel, Fringe-like galaxy controlled by a malicious secretary of defense known as Walternate, Tom Brady was an average catcher for the Montreal Expos who have won several world series. Furthermore, taking a more talented roster without the mystique of the Pats to the Super Bowl in his first year with the team certainly does buy Brady some additional credentials.
There are those who come at TB12 with an assortment of accusations, some founded and some exaggerated. Factually, we know that Brady deflated his balls. Certainly this was not quite the scandal that Tiger Woods deflating his balls was but, nonetheless, it is something that happened. Spygate, speculations surrounding “Dr.” Guerrero and destroying a cellphone full of evidence are all marks on the resume for certain. There are also all sorts of accusations surrounding the tuck rule (the ultimate in hating the player rather than hating the game), being granted “gifts” from referees and so on. The latter of these are always eye-roll inducing. In the end, no one will remember any of these. I imagine that those of us who do will feel ridiculous about witnessing greatness and nitpicking at the details.
We then have those who need to split hairs in a whirlwind argument delineating the seemingly ever-important, never to be resolved greatest of all time debate. Firstly, if you’re the dude who says G.O.A.T., you’re a D-bag. I know, this makes me sound like an old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn. I don’t particularly care. I’m fairly certain that referring to something as the GOAT will be mocked by your children akin with other passing fads and cultural trends such as the dab or the proclamation that someone or something was in fact on fleek.
With that out of the way. There are those of you who claim that Joe Montana is the greatest to ever play. Others will say Brady. I’m here to say that you’re both right. Now leave me alone and let the grownups finish the conversation. Who’s better doesn’t ultimately matter. The fact that we’ve witnessed greatness twice in our lifetime at the quarterback position should be something to celebrate, it should not be the basis of argument. I mean it’s fine if you state your cases over a few pints but dude, you’re never going to convince the other side, so sit back and enjoy what’s in front of you.
For those in the Montana/Jordan camp. Saying that they never lost a super bowl mvp championship game/series is a nonsense argument. Every season you didn’t win one, you’ve ultimately lost on your opportunity to reach your goal. Joe Montana played 16 seasons. He isn’t 4/4 in the super bowl, he’s 4/16 (which is still insanely impressive). Jordan wasn’t 6 of 6 he was 6 of 15. Again, this is hugely impressive. So let’s give Brady his due as well, believe me I’m a Dolphins fan so it hurts me as well, but the dude’s ten superbowl appearances and 6 wins (7 if he wins Sunday), is extraordinary.
The sheer longevity of Brady’s career is another morvel. It doesn’t even bother me that he likely has received some help from “the pharmacy”. Players have always sought an edge and will continue to do so. I don’t particularly condone performance enhancing drugs, especially because it pushes amatuer athletes to take them as well so that they too feel like they can compete and go pro. However, I believe that these are more widespread in pro sports than is even reported. If that is the case, then what we’re seeing in every game is the best of the best pushed by all benefits of the commitment, practice and most importantly, science.
Brady isn’t how aging is supposed to look. We’ve seen how quick the decline was for Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers and others. We saw how Joe Montana and Brett Favre looked in unfamiliar jerseys and how they failed to reach the pinnacle one last time. Brady, for the most part looks like he is still close to the top of his game. The hard outs and deep sideline throws don’t quite get there but his reads are as sharp as ever, his ability to move in the pocket seems unparalleled and his ability to get rid of the ball quickly still seems legendary. We talked to ex NFL and CFL player Davis Sanchez and he discussed aging in the unforgiving sport that is football. He gave us a breakdown of why it is he felt Brady could still play at this level when we interviewed him:
Now, after two decades of dominance, a young gunslinger is here to take all of Tom Brady’s stuff. Where we had montana/Brady debates we will soon be debating the greatness of young Patrick Mahomes vs. Tom Brady. Patrick Mahomes is a phenom, the likes of which i have never seen and whether or not he is the greatest ever, I can subjectively say, he’s the best I’ve ever seen play the position. This weekend feels like a true passing of the torch. However, Tom Brady seems about as ready to hand over the mantle as he is to eat strawberries (which is to say not at all). The man who has been synonyms with greatness since the beginning of this century is now the loveable underdog. The game is laden with story lines and here is what our staff’s picks are for the big game:
Peeze: Chiefs by 16 points (feel free to be drunk by halftime)
Terry Tam: Chiefs 31-27
Eagle: Chiefs by 10, Nokia down 16%
Duke: Bucs 34-31
Pops: Chiefs 31-24
Jon Eamon: Chiefs by 3, in overtime (begging for a push like a JERK)
Alex The Intern: Chiefs by a “razor thin” margin of 7 points
Matt Mckenzie: Chiefs by 10 points
Spence Plamondon: Chiefs by 7 points (still razor thin)
David Bruno: Is it even a league if it isn’t premier?
Kristian Johnston-Galvez: Leafs by 6!
Tyler O’Connor: I hate Brady!
William Power: Miami Heat sign Bradley Beal