At some point, you just have to accept reality.
We can judge with a slanted view, put up unfair parameters and rationalize all we want to downgrade his accomplishments, and it doesn’t matter.
Tom Brady trumps ’em all.
Truth be told, not a fan. Never have been. Haven’t been too thrilled with the man-crushing sports geeks out there, either, who laud the guy for seemingly “living the life” and being married to a supermodel and then actually overrate his play at times because of that. But that’s another topic for another snowy day.
Thing is, love him, hate him, don’t give a rat’s ass about him … that’s your own call.
But when it comes to recognizing and acknowledging who the best quarterback in NFL history has been, you can deny it for only so long.
The white flag, finally, has gone up here in regard to that.
Oh, he may not remain in that spot. If, say, Aaron Rodgers gets his head screwed on straight again, or some better receivers, Brady’s time at the top may be somewhat short-lived.
But, for now, he has been the game’s greatest at its most critical position … and he’s proven so in a way that no one can argue, even though many will.
Record-setting individual accomplishments? Check.
Record-setting team accomplishments? Check.
Clutch performances? Check.
Examples of carrying a team on his back? Check, and double check.
In guiding the New England Patriots to their 10th AFC Championship Game appearance since he took over as the starter in 2001 after serving a one-year apprenticeship that was cut short due to Drew Bledsoe getting injured, Brady has the reigning NFL champs locked and loaded to repeat.
Should he lead them past Denver this afternoon, against fellow QB legend Peyton Manning, it would mark the Patriots’ seventh trip to the Super Bowl with him at the helm, and a chance for him to become the first QB to ever win five of them.
To me, it’s not that he has taken them to this point. It is how he has taken them to this point. Pure and simple, he dominates … regardless of who is or isn’t around him. Basically, he makes my argument that it’s silly to judge individuals so highly off team titles moot.
Why? Because more than any other player in his sport Brady is the primary driving force in whatever success his team has enjoyed.
Every year. Consistently, every year.
Never seen anything like it in the NFL.
The fact he shows no signs of slowing down is both fascinating and frightening – especially for those of us who do not possess New England No. 12 jerseys or bootleg copies of “Ted 2,” hoping they contain any clips highlighting Brady that may have hit the cutting-room floor.
This is a guy who couldn’t supplant Brian Griese (hmmm) or Drew Henson (who?) as the University of Michigan’s QB and ended up getting chosen in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. After winning three Super Bowls in his first four years as an NFL starter, Brady suffered a knee injury that seemed like it could have halted his career at its midpoint.
That was in 2008. Ever since returning he has been on a tour de force to obliterate every NFL passing record he can. Put it this way, in the seven seasons he has been back, Patriots fans can take 4,511 yards, 33 TDs and a playoff spot to the bank.
Sorry, not even Joe Montana or Dan Marino were that strong down the back end. Neither was John Elway. Nor Favre.
Oddly, contemporaries such as Manning and Drew Brees are close in that regard, but, then, you know, they ain’t stacking up on that pesky “championships won” stuff.
Of course, Brady might not be that near the end anyway. Yeah, he’s 38 and he’s already thrown for 58,028 yards (fifth all time) and 428 TDs (third) … but he just posted his highest passing yardage total (4,770), his highest completion percentage (64.4) and his highest passing TDs total (36) in four seasons, and his lowest interception percentage (1.1) in five.
The guy always had touch, but it’s been amazing to watch him develop a fastball, a big-time fastball, as he’s aged.
Just can’t deny this anymore: He is the best. Ever. For now.
Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
A FAVORITE 5
This may seem an eclectic group, but more than any other QBs these guys stoked some sort of passion and loyalty the last several decades.
1. Drew Brees
A runaway “winner” on this board. Fantastic college player at Purdue, where he made the Boilermakers relevant and took them to the Rose Bowl. He’s actually ahead of Tom Brady in career passing yards with 60,903 to rank fourth all time and is tied with Brady on the career passing TD chart at 428, a mark that places them third in NFL lore. Undersized, but hair-trigger quick with his decisions and release, Brees has completed 66.4 percent of his passing attempts in his career and has one of the best passer ratings of all time with a 95.8. After being let go by San Diego after the 2005 season to make room for the younger Philip Rivers, himself a future Hall of Fame candidate, Brees led New Orleans to its only Super Bowl victory in 2009.
2. Bert Jones
May make no sense to anyone else, but the guy was a special talent – when he could stay healthy, and there’s the rub. Why? Because he couldn’t. The second overall pick of the 1973 NFL Draft by Baltimore, Jones was the strong-armed, fleet-footed QB everyone GM dreams about, except he also came with the “injury-prone” tag as well. Very few guys in the history of the NFL have displayed a cannon worthy of comparison to what Jones possessed, with Terry Bradshaw, Joe Namath and Michael Vick being the only ones to come to mind. If you ever get a chance to see some NFL Films production that displays Jones and his fellow Colts, do yourself a favor and check it out.
3. Steve Young
Incredible athletic talent who expected to blossom in San Francisco once he was exiled from Tampa Bay, Young actually had to spend four years of his prime backing up NFL legend Joe Montana before finally taking the reins in 1991 at age 30. Didn’t matter. He was so good he still managed to earn a place in the Hall of Fame after racking up 33,124 yards and 232 TDs passing, and another 4,239 yards and 43 TDs rushing. Following a four-time Super Bowl champ in Montana, obviously, was difficult. But Young managed to win one of his own, and currently sits atop the all-time NFL passer-rating list for those who have completed their careers.
4. Ben Roethlisberger
Part of the 2004 NFL Draft that included Rivers and fellow two-time Super Bowl champ Eli Manning, Big Ben has been a testament to toughness and often overlooked brilliance while throwing for 42,995 yards and 272 TDs in his career. Frankly, he seems to embody everything about the Steelers and what they strive to have – production at the highest level without having a big production to go with it. Even his trademark talent of extending plays is all about trying to make something happen for the team, not headlines for himself. Though Manning and Rivers have had great careers as well by the teams that drafted them, the Giants and Chargers, respectively, Roethlisberger has been just about a perfect fit for Pittsburgh from the moment he arrived in town.
5. Aaron Rodgers
My best hope to unseat Brady as the NFL’s greatest ever. Stuck behind Brett Favre for three years after being selected 24th by Green Bay in the 2005 draft, Rodgers unleashed the beast in 2008 and really hasn’t stopped. This season was, by far, his worst and it yielded these numbers: 60.7 percent completion percentage, 3,821 yards and 31 TDs (against just 8 INTs) passing, as well as another 344 yards and a score while running at a 5.9 yards per clip average. At this point, he’s already 32 and a little behind the 8-ball, so to speak, with catching Brady due to that aforementioned delay. But he has thrown for 32,399 yards and 257 TDs thus far and holds the top spot all time in NFL passer rating at 104.1. Has led the Packers to a Super Bowl victory.
Michael Vick and Mark Brunell. Must be something about being lefty and having wheels. Both dual-threats who were good enough to carry their teams to conference title games, neither will go down as all-time greats. All-time talents is another story, and while Vick’s abilities were often recognized, Brunell’s were not exactly chopped liver. The guy threw for 32,072 yards and 184 TDs in his career, adding another 2,421 yards and 15 TDs on the ground while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Vick’s wheels are legendary, him racking an NFL QB-record 6,109 yards rushing by averaging 7.0 yards per pop. Through the 2015 season, he also had accumulated 22,464 yards and 133 TDs passing.