By Staff Writer Tom Griffin.
While some doubt the validity of Tom Brady’s status as the “Greatest of All Time,” the aging quarterback’s career accomplishments prove just that.
The age-old adage states that the empire of Rome wasn’t built in a single day, but Tom Brady has managed to foster two prosperous dynasties within 20 years. After this past victory at Super Bowl LIII, the 41-year-old veteran has led his empire of a Patriots team to nine Super Bowls and six championship titles in nearly eighteen straight winning seasons. Not once in the entire span of his career has Brady allowed a sub .500 season in New England.
Perhaps, in the case of Jim Kelly and Fran Tarkenton, greatness doesn’t stem from postseason success, but rather by individual accolades from the players themselves.
In which case, I guess it’s safe to know that Brady owns the record books in almost all major categories for a quarterback: regular season wins as a starting quarterback, most passing yards and touchdowns in league history (factoring in both regular season and postseason play), most playoff wins, and the most division titles for any one player in the league after having ruled over the AFC East for 16 seasons.
Adding in the stats solely acquired from Super Bowls, Brady looks like even more of a statistical world-beater. Playing in the league’s biggest game often enough to consider it a regular season, the Patriots’ franchise quarterback’s nine appearances and six wins are the most out of any player to ever grace a National Football League field. That’s before tacking on the additional league records for touchdowns and passing yards in the big game.
While other quarterbacks may slightly eclipse the aging Patriot in some areas, Brady has what most of them don’t: rings. In terms of career passer rating, three quarterbacks – Aaron Rodgers, Russel Wilson, and Drew Brees, all outplay Brady’s very respectable 97.6. Despite their successes, however, each quarterback has only one Super Bowl victory each to their names.
While the career passing yards record is still held by Drew Brees, Brady has a chance in his upcoming seasons to surpass the currently retired Brett Favre and Peyton Manning, who, again, only have one and two championship wins to their names, respectively. Who can really call themselves the Greatest of All Time if they can’t prove that they can beat everyone time and time again?
Brady’s subpar showing in Super Bowl LIII rose some concern as to if he had suddenly lost his G.O.A.T. status or declined in his old age beyond greatness. His 21 completed passes of 35 attempts for 262 yards look paltry, worsening with his one interception to zero touchdowns. However, in a league where defense wins championships, there have always been far worse Super Bowl Quarterbacking performances.
Take, for example, the quarterbacking performance of Peyton Manning back in Super Bowl 50. In his last season in the league, Manning’s Broncos won over the Carolina Panthers in convincing fashion, allowing him to go out on top – with an awful 13 for 23 and 141 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. In a game where the Broncos’ shutdown defense, led by edge rusher and eventual MVP Von Miller, forced four turnovers, Manning was content to give the game back to the Panthers at every turn.
Even Brady himself has played worse in a Super Bowl, yet retained his G. O. A. T. status. Back in his first appearance, Super Bowl XXXVI, the inexperienced rookie Brady threw for only 16 of 27 for 145 yards and a passing touchdown – arguably worse than his performance in the most recent Super Bowl LIII. If nothing else, Brady’s aging play is showing that he’s still improving, rather than regressing or getting worse.
The once consistency between then and now has been Brady’s ability to lead a team. What will define Brady’s legacy after his retirement isn’t his accolades, but the moments where his make-or-break decision making was the difference between total success and absolute failure.
The drive leading to the final field goal in Super Bowl XXXVI, the entire 25-point comeback of Super Bowl LI, and even the game-sealing touchdown drive of the Super Bowl this past Sunday all showed precision and perfection that the likes of Joe Montana and John Elway could only dream of.
No matter what the numbers, the reporters, Vegas or the 4th quarter game clocks say, Brady will always be the deciding factor between a win or a loss. He will always be the Greatest of All Time.