By Zack Downing, Staff Writer
There’s no question that New England’s sports fans are among the most passionate in the country. We will defend our teams and players to the very end, and idolize the best players that represent our region.
For years, debates have raged over whether or not Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the Greatest quarterback Of All Time (GOAT). Rivals of New England scorn him as an overrated cheater, while Pats fans revere him as the Jesus Christ of modern sports.
Super Bowl LI blew millions of people away and changed the minds of sports fans everywhere, whether you live in Massachusetts or Miami.
Tom Brady led his team through by far the largest Super Bowl comeback of all time, and arguably one of the most amazing comebacks in the history of sports.
He put up an astounding 466 passing yards and cemented his status as the king of the Super Bowl, obtaining his fifth ring with a few years still ahead of him.
He’s made it to the playoffs every single year he’s started (a 2008 injury sidelined him for the one missing season) and has won by far the most postseason matches ever.
This has convinced countless sports analysts, football fans, and all of New England that Tom Brady is indeed the best quarterback to ever play the game.
But are they right?
Well, there are two different ways to gauge greatness. One is based on wins and overall success with his team(s), the other is based on the individual’s statistics.
Using these two metrics, let’s look at Brady’s main competition in the GOAT category. The two players generally considered to be the greatest in history are Joe Montana and Peyton Manning.
Montana formerly held the record with Terry Bradshaw of most Super Bowl rings at four, with a good playoff record to boot. He’s never lost a Super Bowl, which many argue makes him superior, but that also means he hasn’t reached nearly as many as Brady.
Peyton Manning only has two rings to his name, but what he’s missing in rings he makes up for in his stats. Manning holds the records for most passing yards and passing touchdowns, both in a single season and in an entire career.
So, how does Brady stack up against these two, and are there any other outliers that could threaten him as the greatest?
Well, Joe Montana is certainly one of the league’s best, with four rings and a consistently impressive career.
However, his individual stats aren’t among the elite few, sitting outside the top 15 in passing touchdowns and yards.
Even with the help of the greatest receiver of all time (GROAT?) on his team, Jerry Rice, he couldn’t reach the top of the leaderboards.
So, since his Super Bowl record was surpassed last Sunday, I would take him out of the GOAT race.
Many people scoff at win counts, claiming that the true way to measure a quarterback’s skill is to take the teams out of the equation and look at their individual stats. To an extent, I think they’re right.
Some will say that Brady’s pass TD numbers and total yards aren’t as impressive because he’s being helped by a great coach and team every year.
They aren’t exactly wrong, but the team is always great because of Brady, not the other way around.
Peyton’s numbers are superior in many categories, but he was in the league two years longer, and he also had a remarkable team behind him for most seasons. He had great playoff success, but not nearly Brady’s sky-high level.
In fact, his second ring was entirely thanks to the Denver Broncos defense, as Manning was a shell of a man during the 2015 season, posting his worst stats ever.
To be honest, if you really want to look at a quarterback that doesn’t get carried, check Drew Brees out. He has more passing yards and touchdowns than Tom Brady, and it’s usually been with a rather abysmal team.
What sets Brady apart from those two is his fantastically low number of interceptions, which both Manning and Brees struggle with. The quarterback himself is almost always to blame for interceptions, and Brady is one of the best at keeping the ball safe.
So, Peyton Manning does have the edge in stats, but Brady has enough time to catch him.
Assuming his final years aren’t subpar like Peyton’s, Brady could realistically take several records away from him.
Given a couple more years of solid play, Tom Brady’s numbers and utter domination of the NFL playoffs truly make him the GOAT.