New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has constantly been referred to as the greatest of all time (GOAT), since winning his fifth Super Bowl championship over the Atlanta Falcons last year.
It’s easy to understand why so many people think this. For a lot of fans and pundits, it all comes down to championships. Brady has the five Super Bowls, three NFL MVP awards and holds virtually every quarterback playoff and Super Bowl record imaginable.
But after New England’s Super Bowl 52 loss to the underdog Philadelphia Eagles, we have to take a closer look at Brady, and understand that he is not the GOAT that the media loves to hype him up as.
Let’s get the ring argument out of the way early. Bart Starr (the Green Bay Packers legend), won five NFL Championships and two Super Bowls. So if Brady is better than Peyton Manning and Joe Montana because of rings, Starr is better than TB12.
You’re also saying Jimmy Garoppolo is better than Aaron Rodgers, even though the former was a backup in New England for his two titles. See where I’m going with this? The ring argument is as flawed as it gets.
Okay, now back to Brady.
It was quite remarkable for Tommy Terrific to win three Super Bowls in his first four years as a starter. But don’t you think Brady gets a tad too much credit for the Super Bowl 36 championship? That title path was gifted to them by the most ridiculous officiating call ever in the tuck rule.
In Super Bowl 36, Brady tossed 16 completions for 145 yards and a touchdown. Too bad nobody talks about the Patriots defence that shut down Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce – known as “The Greatest Show on Turf” offence.
That year, the Rams averaged 31.4 points per game. Warner ran away with the NFL MVP Award. The Patriots held them to 17 points in the Super Bowl. Adam Vinatieri made the game-winning field goal. But sure, Brady’s 145 yards were the total difference!
Super Bowl 38? Brady won an epic shootout against Jake Delhomme. He can thank kicker John Kasay for kicking out of the ball out of bounds with a minute left, giving Brady a short field to set up Vinatieri for another game-winning field goal.
Super Bowl 39? Brady had a mere 236 yards and two touchdowns in the game. The Patriots defence shut down star quarterback Donovan McNabb, picking him off three times in the game. But sure, Brady gets all the credit.
Let’s not forget that in 2015, over 40 former Patriots coaches/officials/players confessed that the team got away with a handful of cheating during their first three Super Bowls. Bugging locker rooms. Videotaping other teams’ signals and practices. Stealing their play-calling sheets. You name it. They said they did it.
The Patriots would wait 10 years to win their next Super Bowl after defeating the Eagles. Brady and the record-breaking 2007 Pats’ offence was held to 14 points against the New York Giants in Super Bowl 42. They blew the chance to be the very first and only 19-0 team in history. They also lost Super Bowl 46 to the Giants, in which Brady only scored 17 points against one of the NFL’s worst defences.
Many then called Brady the GOAT for leading his team to a thrilling Super Bowl 49 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Luckily for Tom, Pete Carroll called the worst play in the history of sports. Malcolm Butler picked off Russell Wilson at the one-yard line. Tom Brady didn’t make the game-saving play. Butler did. But sure, call Brady the GOAT if you must!
Two years later, Brady and the Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 to win their fifth championship. Give Brady credit for the epic comeback, but it was New England’s defence that shut down MVP Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offence over the final 20 minutes. Also, the Falcons absolutely gifted that game to New England. It was handed to Brady more than Brady won the game himself.
The long and short of it: Brady has been bailed out by his defence throughout his entire career. What happens when their defence finally doesn’t have a lights-out performance? Brady can’t carry them. He fumbles with two minutes left and costs his team the championship. But yeah, it’s not his fault!
Allow me to mention that Brady has had great company in Bill Belichick – the greatest head coach of all-time. Brady himself admitted he wasn’t the GOAT last year, and for good reason:
“I don’t agree with that (being called the GOAT). and I’ll tell you why. I know myself as a player. I’m really a product of what I’ve been around, who I was coached by, what I played against, in the era I played in. I really believe if a lot of people were in my shoes they could accomplish the same kinds of things. So I’ve been very fortunate . . . I don’t ever want to be the weak link.
He’s right. The Patriots are 14-6 without Brady since 2008. Matt Cassel never started a game in college, but replaced an injured Brady to help the Pats win 11 games in 2008. New England went 3-1 without Brady during the 2016 season, too.
Not to mention the 1996 Patriots – led by Drew Bledsoe – reached Super Bowl 31. I would agree that Brady is a product of the system he’s in. When has a quarterback under Belichick flopped in New England? None of them have.
So here’s my entire summary, in short:
-Tom Brady has been bailed out by a great defense.
-Tom Brady is fortunate to have the best coach ever
-The cheating scandals leave an asterisk beside the Patriots’ rings
Add it all up, and Tom Brady is a great quarterback. But the “GOAT” label belongs to Joe Montana and Peyton Manning. The former never threw a pick in the Super Bowl, where he went 4-0. The latter trumps Brady in MVPs, passing yards, and touchdowns. He would have had more rings if he had a good defense and the same legendary coach throughout his career.
So next time you call Tom Brady the “GOAT,” understand his rings were given, not earned. The asterisks and the great supporting cast don’t lie. And if you thought he was the GOAT, just see how he fumbled away a chance to end the debate in Super Bowl 52 against the Eagles.
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