While we could have listed more than 10 reasons why Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to ever set foot on the gridiron, we just compiled the most important. Let’s keep it simple. The records listed here are the most incredible triumphs accomplished by a former fourth-string quarterback who was supposed to be working in insurance back in San Mateo, California. In fact, Tom Brady’s portrayal of telemarketer “Gary” in a DailyMVP commercial is pretty close to what the former’s life would have been like had the Patriots not drafted him.
While his accomplishments are astounding, it may be even more incredible to think how teams bypassed the future Hall-of-Famer. If only teams knew then that with every quarterback they drafted, they were bypassing a scratch ticket worth $120 million, four Super Bowls, nine AFC Championship appearances, 12 division titles and 21 playoff wins (and celebrity appearances by Gisele Bundchen).
And again, that’s not what teams would have won had they bought one of those $30 lottery tickets. They could have received that pot of gold for a measly $1 ticket whose equivalent is a sixth-round draft pick. One dollar!
Tommy Boy will always have his doubters. Fans of rival teams. Former players who lost against him in big games (e.g., Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner). Former stars who feel the need to defend their own, former great quarterbacks (e.g., Jerry Rice). Forgotten coaches who hate Belichick and the Patriots and therefore hate Brady (e.g, Don Shula.) But no matter the excuses they conjure up, Brady not only sits atop the pantheon of all time greats, he is the all time great.
Brady’s stats simply highlight how much better he is than other legends. Roger Staubach. Terry Bradshaw. Dan Marino. John Elway. Brett Favre. Peyton Manning. Sift through the names and we’ll show you why they don’t statistically compare to the Patriots’ signal caller. The only quarterback who may be Brady’s equal is Joe Montana and the former even surpasses his idol in some key categories.
So let’s get to it. Here are the Top 10 reasons we can no longer deny that Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time.
10. Brady Loves to Start in the Super Bowl
Only six quarterbacks in NFL history started at least four Super Bowls. Out of those six, only two held perfect Bowl records and only one went on to start in six (Tom Brady). In Super Bowls, Roger Staubach held a 2-2 record, John Elway a 2-3 record, Montana and Bradshaw a 4-0 record and Brady a 4-2 record.
Say what you want about Montana’s and Bradshaw’s perfect Super Bowl mark. They still failed to carry their organization to six. In fact, both earned their Super Bowl rings within a six to nine year period with a star-studded cast who could produce their own trilogy or tetralogy–a four movie part series–because the NFL had no salary cap. Brady dragged his teams to six in a fourteen year period with an always revolving door of average offensive cast members.
(And yes, while the Patriots’ did have Corey Dillon, Randy Moss and Wes Welker, it’s hardly fair to discount the “revolving-door” theory because of them. Of the three, the longest tenured Patriot was Welker who stayed in New England for six years.)
So, after thinking all of that over, you should begin to appreciate how Brady was the only offensive player on the 2014 Patriots to have also played on the 2004 Super Bowl winning squad. Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork was the only other Patriot to have also played on that team.
Finally, Brady might have lost two Super Bowls, but those were hardly his fault. Even a Giants’ diehard can agree with that. In both games, Brady had his team’s leading as they entered the fourth quarter, but the Patriots’ defense folded in the face of adversity. Contrary to popular belief, Brady was not covering David Tyree, the Giants’ eighth-string receiver, when the latter made that miraculous helmet catch on Rodney Harrison. He was also not defending Giants’ receiver Mario Manningham when he made a similarly incredible catch in Super Bowl 46.
9. Brady Owns Playoff Passing Yards and Super Bowl Completion Record
Against the Colts this past postseason, Brady broke the all-time record for most career postseason yards with 7,017, beating out fellow rival Peyton Manning who has thrown for 6,800 yards (you’ll soon see that breaking Manning’s records becomes a theme entwined throughout this article). Brady even upped that yardage mark in Super Bowl 49 when he threw for 328 yards.
Fittingly enough, Brady also stole the Super Bowl completions record away from Manning against the most formidable opponent imaginable, the Seahawks. Against Seattle’s stubborn Legion of Boom, Brady completed 37 of 50 passes, which were three more than Manning completed last year against the same team.
8. Patriots Only Team to Overcome Double Digit Deficit to Win Super Bowl
This entry’s headline gives the Patriots credit for being the first team to come back by double digits to win the Super Bowl. In fact, the history books read the same thing. However, let’s make no mistake about it, while the record books say one thing, our TVs and eyes said the other: The defense didn’t score any of the touchdowns that helped the Patriots take the lead. Brady did.
Brady’s ability to master the art of patience, perseverance and self control under the most extreme conditions–weather include–are only matched by Joe Montana. And even “Joe Cool” didn’t have to bring his 49ers back from such a near-death experience in his team’s four Super Bowl trips.
The fact Brady also broke this record against the NFL’s best defense is all the more revealing. Actually, not only was Seattle’s defense statistically the best in 2014, many thought the overall unit might be dubbed the greatest in NFL history had they won Super Bowl 49. So much for that.
7. Brady Throws Touchdowns in Super Bowls. Lots of Them
Even though Brady owns the Super Bowl passing touchdown record, critics will still exploit his two interceptions against the Seahawks as the main reason he ranks below fellow four-ring quarterbacks Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. A fairer comparison would be to at least break down some of their numbers on the NFL’s grandest stage.
Bradshaw might own a 4-0 Super Bowl record, but Brady is statistically superior to the great Steeler in almost every major category during the Super Bowl. In Bradshaw’s four Super Bowls, he completed 49 of 84 attempts for 932 passing yards, nine touchdowns and threw four interceptions. Bradshaw averaged a 58 percent completion percentage.
In Brady’s first four, he completed 100 of 156 attempts for 1,001 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception. He held a 65 percent completion percentage. As you can see, Bradshaw also threw far less than Brady did, totaling just 18 completed passes in his first two Super Bowls for a measly 305 yards and three touchdowns. This indicates one thing: Brady carried his team far more than Bradshaw ever did.
Only Montana can statically compete with Brady in Super Bowls. During his run, Montana completed 83 of 122 passes for 1,142 yards, nine touchdowns and threw no interceptions. He held a 68 percent completion percentage. While Montana scored ever so slightly better than Brady in these categories, New England’s quarterback eventually pulled away during his next three Super Bowl appearances, increasing his career Super Bowl totals to 1,605 yards on 164 of 247 pass attempts and 13 touchdowns. And isn’t the saying, “It’s not how you start the race that matters, but how you finish”? (or something like that.)
6. Brady is a Touchdown Passing Fiend in the Playoffs
Brady has thrown 53 touchdowns in the playoffs. That’s eight more than Joe Montana who now sits quietly in second place. In its own right, that’s an improbable feat. However, what’s even more otherworldly is how Brady threw those touchdowns. When you break down his touchdown passes by opponent, distance, receiver, location, receiver, and game situation you’ll see he earned that achievement mostly by himself.
First, it seems fitting that Brady has thrown more playoff touchdowns against the Denver Broncos–Peyton Manning’s current team–than any of the other 13 teams he has thrown playoff touchdowns against. Number two on that list is the lowly Jaguars, followed by the Ravens and Colts. The Seahawks vaulted their way into eighth place with the Jets and Chargers after the former’s Super Bowl 49 melt down.
It gets better though. Brady has thrown more touchdown passes into the end zone (26) than any other location on the field, which means he’s not relying on receivers to make him look better after the catch. In breaking this playoff touchdown record, he also threw to 24 different players. No receiver had more than seven touchdowns and that receiver was David Givens. Who? Finally, roughly 33 percent of Brady’s touchdown passes helped the Patriots take the lead. In other words, he made them count.
These stats are taken from an amazing piece from ESPN, that you can see here.
5. Patriots Overcome Snake Eyes Twice Against the Ravens
Against the Ravens in the 2015 Divisional Round, the Patriots became the first team to overcome two different 14-point deficits in the playoffs. First when they were down 14-0 and then 28-14. Interestingly enough, Boston.com pointed out that Brady overcame two similar deficits in his final bowl game against Alabama.
New England was first down by 14 points until receiver Danny Amendola caught Brady’s pass and shifted his way into the end zone with 3:38 remaining in the half. The game was tied at 14. However, not only did the Patriots immediately lose the lead prior to half time, they wouldn’t tie the score again until four minutes remained in the third quarter. Baltimore then pulled ahead by three, but Brady sealed the game when he lobbed a flawless pass to receiver Brandon Lafell in left-front corner of the end zone with five minutes remaining in regulation.
While Brady had guys like Rob Gronkowski, Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman to lean on, he still had to lead them. He still had to calm his troops when the sheer weight of playoff magnitude appeared too much to hold up. Currently, no quarterback has the same will power to lead his team back from two different 14-point deficits in the playoffs. In fact, in the NFL’s 94 year history, no quarterback ever has.
4. The Patriots Quarterback Owns the Fourth Quarter During the Playoffs
Say what you want about Brady’s post-season record over the last several years (11-8 since he went 10-0 in first 10 playoff games), his teams are a hard-knock out because he always gives them a chance to win. Compare that to how your team’s starting quarterback commands his crew. There’s a better chance your team collapses in the fourth quarter because of your quarterback’s poor play than because of the players surrounding him. With the Patriots, it’s different. No matter the circumstances, Brady always puts his team in a position to win.
Brady currently holds the record for career playoff game-winning drives with nine. That’s three more than John Elway–who the incompetent former Patriots’ staffer turned analyst Chris Simms dubbed as better than Brady–four more than Joe Montana and eight more than Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Bart Starr, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, and Jim Kelly. In fact, if you want to do your math, if you add up all of those legendary quarterbacks’ game-winning playoff drives, Brady still has two more than them!
3. Move Over Brett Favre. Tom Brady is the Greatest Gun Slinger in NFL History
Brady is a system guy. Brady wins because he has great teams around him, and he never wins the big games on his own. That’s what the critics say, right? Well, that’s absolutely false. The 70,288 fans who attended Super Bowl 49, mostly Seahawks’ fanatics according to reports, witnessed Brady carry the Patriots to their fourth Super Bowl victory in 13 years. He currently owns the highest winning percentage when throwing 50 plus times in a game and has done so more than any other quarterback with 100-plus starts.
Analysts might categorize quarterbacks like Brett Favre, Drew Bledsoe and Dan Marino as gunslingers–guys who chuck the ball a consistent 40 or so times a game. But never would analysts place Tom Brady into the gunslinger category. According to Rich Hill of SB Nation, Brady is one of only three quarterbacks (Donovan McNabb and Dan Fouts being the others) to own an overall record above .500 when throwing 50-plus times in a game. The Patriots’ quarterback not only sits in the top three, he’s actually done so in three times as many games as either McNabb or Fouts. The Patriots have asked Brady to throw at least 50 times in a game in 21 of 236 starts, which is a rate of 8.9 percent. That’s the highest percentage in NFL history, which beats Joe Flacco’s and Drew Brees’ mark of 7.1 percent.
2. Brady Has Built an Empire With Militia
For those who aren’t history buffs, American militia were not the backbone of the British resistance during the American Revolution. The Continental Army was. In fact, the Continental Army often viewed the militia with disdain because of the latter’s inexperience, ineptitude and ability to break easily when under heavy pressure.
While Joe Montana was throwing to receivers like Roger Craig, Jerry Rice and Dwight Clark, Tom Brady was tossing passes to Super Bowl-starting receivers like David Patten, David Givens, Deion Branch and Troy Brown. Let’s also not forget that part of Brady’s militia consisted of castoffs like receivers Doug Gabriel, Richard Caldwell and Kenbrell Thompkins. And like we noted in our previous entry, in throwing to those no names, Brady still became the only quarterback in NFL history to own a .500 winning percentage when throwing 50-plus times in a game.
While analysts, critics, GMs, coaches and owners all fawn over the epic skill-positions players they surrounded their young–often incompetent–quarterback with, Brady begrudgingly bucks the trend. It’s statistically proven he has not only made the players around him better, but has also accomplished more with less.
The Patriots four starting receivers during the 2003 and 2004 Super Bowls (and to a lesser degree the 2001 Super Bowl) combined for career receiving totals of 20,043 yards, 166 touchdowns and 1,549 receptions. In retrospect, Jerry Rice alone–who was Joe Montana’s main weapon for three Super Bowl runs–destroyed all four Patriots’ starting receivers in the same three categories. Rice’s career totals include 22,895 receiving yards, 197 touchdowns and 1,549 receptions. Imagine if Brady had someone like Rice to throw to for that duration of time? Imagine if he had Dwight Clark to toss passes to instead of tight ends Christian Fauria, Jermaine Wiggins, Ben Watson or Daniel Graham?
Brady was one of the league’s top five to 10 quarterbacks, statistically speaking, even before Randy Moss walked through Gillette Stadium’s doors. Which means, even with his plethora of average militia, Brady was still putting up numbers that rivaled the Continental Armies of Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, and Drew Brees.
1. Brady is the Only Quarterback to Win Four Super Bowls in Salary-Cap Era. Drops Mic.
Brady surpasses every quarterback who won three to four Super Bowls for one reason and one reason only. He broke all of the records we listed in this article during an era of football that denounces dynasties and relishes parity. The salary cap is supposed to ensure a different team wins the Super Bowl each year. It’s supposed to ensure teams can’t load up on star talent and feed off bottom-dwelling organizations. And it has done just that for 31 of 32 organization; the Patriots are the lone wolf. While other quarterbacks struggle to carry their teams that, in turn, are struggling to overcome the vice grip that is the salary cap, Brady constantly turns coal into diamonds.
Some analysts might dispute this argument by indicating the NFL’s cap has a lesser impact on its franchises than other leagues’ caps have on their respective franchises. A case might be made if one argued NFL franchises feel less of a blow because its league’s talent variation is much narrow than other leagues. “Narrow talent variation” basically means you can find great talent deep in the NFL draft whereas it’s hard to do the same in other drafts in the other professional sports league.
However, other analysts–the correct analysts–will find fault in this theory by simply pointing out that only two teams won back-to-back Super Bowls since the NFL implemented the salary cap. That’s not a coincidence. The Broncos did so in 1997 and 1998 and the Patriots in 2003 and 2004. However, we might even exclude the Broncos because they manipulated the salary cap by deferring $29 million in payments to John Elway and Terrell Davis.(the NFL punished them for the violation).
The magnitude of Brady’s four Super Bowl wins can’t be understated. If the salary cap is Mount Everest, Brady has scaled it four times with offenses equivalent to inexperienced climbing crews who owned cheap equipment and lacked any sort of outdoor-survival skills. He’s even been able to get close to the top eight other times, which is far more than any other quarterback since the NFL instituted the cap in 1994. In other words, move over Apa Sherpa, Brady’s coming for your Everest throne.
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