Deflategate has finally ended. The embarrassing witch-hunt began after New England’s 45-7 thrashing of Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game on January 18th, 2015. After a tiring back and forth of rulings, suspensions and appeals, Brady finally accepted his four-game punishment in July 2016. He returned to the field on October 9th.
That equates to 630 days. The NFL crowned a new champion during this time period. Donald Trump went from reality show host and hairdo extraordinaire to the Republican nominee for President of the United States. A couple could conceive and give birth to not just one, but two babies if they were in a serious rush.
Roger Goodell went after one of the league’s biggest stars and would not relent until a suspension stuck. Perhaps the commissioner hoped the legal battle would serve as a smoke screen, distracting fans from the NFL’s growing concussion problem. Whatever the reason, New England’s nightmare is over.
There’s no visual evidence of Brady throwing the football while simultaneously flipping Goodell the bird with his other hand, but a 406-yard, three touchdown undressing of the Browns can be interpreted that way. He continues to be one of the greatest quarterbacks in the NFL at age 39 – but is Brady the greatest of all time?
It’s always been a polarizing conversation piece, especially after the Patriots got off to a 3-0 start without their franchise QB. The sports world jumped on the opportunity to downgrade Brady in the wake of Garoppolo and Brissett’s success. This article hopes to sift through evidence on both sides of the argument.
Here are 8 Reasons Why Tom Brady is the GOAT and 7 Reasons He Isn’t. Feel free to comment with your thoughts and personal rankings.
15 GOAT: Playoff Win-Loss Record
14 NOT THE GOAT: Bloated Record From Early Success
13 GOAT: Limited Supporting Cast
12 NOT THE GOAT: Brady the Game Manager
11 GOAT: 50 Touchdown Passes
10 NOT THE GOAT: Tarnished Legacy
Whatever your opinion on Spygate and Deflategate, they happened. The public attaches the incidents directly to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. In 2007, the Jets caught a Patriots video assistant illegally taping New York’s defensive signals. An investigation turned up a library of scouting materials and opponents’ signals dating as far back as seven years. There were even handwritten notes used in the 2002 AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Goodell ordered the materials destroyed. Goodell fined Belichick $500,000, the team $250,000, and took away the Patriots’ first round draft pick. Some owners saw Goodell’s destruction of evidence as an effort to hide just how influential New England’s spying had been. Opposing fans did not hesitate to attribute all three Super Bowl wins to cheating.
9 GOAT: Silences the Haters
8 NOT THE GOAT: The Genius of Bill
7 GOAT: Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady
All those in the Peyton Manning GOAT camp stand up. Now, go home. You’re wrong. Manning may be the regular season king. He’s thrown for an NFL record 71,940 yards and 539 touchdowns. The only Super Bowl he won, however, was against Rex Grossman. The Denver defense handed him the second ring as a retirement gift. Let’s compare Manning and Brady head to head. The two Hall of Fame quarterbacks faced each other 17 times in their careers. Peyton got the last laugh in the 2015 AFC Championship Game, but the overall record is 11-6 in Brady’s favor. Manning has thrown for more yards (4,985 to 4,323) and touchdowns (35 to 32), but also tossed more interceptions (22 to 15). That equates to a better quarterback rating for Brady in the rivalry. Here’s a look at career playoff stat lines to separate them further:
QB A: 649/1027, 7,339 yards, 40 touchdowns, 25 interceptions, 87.4 rating, and two game winning drives.
QB B: 738/1183, 7,957 yards, 56 touchdowns, 28 interceptions, 88.0 rating, and nine game winning drives
6 NOT THE GOAT: Patriots Without Brady
Consider this “The Genius of Bill Part Two.” During the Belichick era, the only time the Patriots struggled without Tom Brady occurred in 2000. Tom Brady was a sixth round rookie and on the bench behind Drew Bledsoe. The team went 5-11. It was Belichick’s first year. He didn’t have his system or players in place yet. After Brady drove Bledsoe out of town with his performance, Bledsoe never achieved better than a 9-7 record with the Bills or Cowboys. The pre-Brady year doesn’t wholly factor in. Fast forward to 2008. Brady goes down with an ACL injury in week one. Matt Cassel takes over as starting quarterback. The Patriots still finished 11-5, becoming the second team in NFL history to miss the playoffs with 11 wins. Brady would have almost certainly led them to a better record, but that’s not the point. Cassel had only one good year after turning his success with New England into a new contract in Kansas City. He’s now considered a below average NFL quarterback. Look at his stats as a first year starter compared to Brady:
Brady (2001): 15 games, 63.9%, 2,843 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions
Cassel (2008): 16 games, 63.4%, 3,693 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions
5 GOAT: Super Bowl Trips
4 NOT THE GOAT: The Malcolm Butler Effect
3 GOAT: Playoff Passing Records
2 NOT THE GOAT: Post-Brady NFL
1 GOAT: Overall Body of Work
A relative unknown, selected with the 199th pick in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, leads a team without a previous Super Bowl victory to four rings. This wasn’t supposed to happen. It’s one of the biggest underdog stories in the history of sports. His two NFL MVP Awards and 11 Pro Bowls place him in distinguished company. Brady ranks 4th in career completions (4,981), 5th in passing yards (58,434), 4th in passing touchdowns (431) and tied for 5th in passer rating (96.5). He’s still going. Athletes are often the last to know it’s over. Their performance can drop off a cliff, but Brady’s demise doesn’t appear to be scheduled this year. His numbers will only rise. He could add at least one more ring before he hangs up the cleats. Doing so would slam the door on future arguments. Brady’s body of work already establishes him as one of the game’s greatest. Everything from here on out is just icing on the cake.
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