Yes, I said it! Tom Brady is NOT the Greatest of All-Time (GOAT) when talking the NFL and his quarterback prowess. Now, I will acknowledge that Brady, who’s preparing for his 10th Super Bowl game, this one as the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has enough accomplishments to seriously consider him the GOAT. Those accomplishments include six Super Bowl victories for the 21-year NFL veteran. And when you start researching the best quarterbacks of all time, most publications easily put Brady at #1.
I get it. It’s easy to put Brady at #1. But really? Why are so many of you willing to just give him the title of GOAT? Have you decided to just overlook the past and all the other greats like Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Bart Starr, Otto Graham, Peyton Manning and even John Elway, though I can’t look at Elway fairly since he tore my heart out, like three years in a row as a young Cleveland Browns fan.
It’s easy to give Brady the GOAT status when all we look at now are awards and accomplishments. But what some of those other great NFL quarterbacks did in their careers was more than impressive and I believe challenges Brady’s accomplishments. And even if Brady wins the Super Bowl with the Buccaneers, I still won’t give him GOAT status.
Brady came into the league as a 6th round draft pick, #199. So, I’ll give him credit at overachieving in his NFL career. But I suggest that what Brady has done is much more the product of the system run under New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. There’s been a lot of debate this past year about how much was the Patriot’s success about the coach or Tom Brady? I say the coach and the system that the Patriots ran had more to do with the six Super Bowl titles while Brady played in New England.
But with the Buccaneers now in the Super Bowl, it’s easy for us to assume it’s all because of Brady. You add in the fact that the Patriots really struggled this season without Brady at quarterback and it just adds to that support that all this success was because of Brady. Now I will acknowledge, as with my own coaching experience and knowledge, that you need players and athletes with high abilities to be coached and having a high on-field IQ to have success overall. I always said after games our teams won, that it was all about the kids and the efforts they put into the victories. Brady is certainly a hardworking and good teammate.
But the way Patriots coach Belichick utilized his players and managed games over the years can’t be dismissed now that it looks like Brady was the key. 11 guys line up on offense every play. And because of what the other 10 guys did every play helped Brady look good and reap the benefits of stardom because he was the quarterback.
When I consider the greatest of all time, when it comes to the NFL and quarterbacks, I come back to two others to consider, former San Francisco 49ers QB Joe Montana and the Browns legendary QB Otto Graham.
Joe Montana played 16 seasons, 14 of them with the 49ers. What is most impressive about Montana was that in the four Super Bowls the 49ers played in, they won them all. Maybe because in my youth, primarily the 1980’s, it seemed like Montana and the 49ers were always winning is why I consider Montana more of the GOAT than Brady.
And then there is always the forgotten one, Browns quarterback Otto Graham. Now, I know he’s considered playing in a past era, but that point goes to my other argument of why Brady shouldn’t be considered the GOAT now. If Brady played in the previous era or even the 1970s or 1980s he wouldn’t have had the longevity to his career because he would have been bulldozed or sent to the ER multiple times because of what players used to be able to do in the NFL. It was much rougher back in the day. The quarterback today can’t be touched, or it’s a penalty. So, while it’s impressive that Brady is playing at the age of 43, on the other hand, don’t you know that if Bradshaw, Marino or Starr had that type of protection their own career numbers would be even more off the charts?
As for Otto Graham, he won seven titles as a pro! Yes! Not six, but seven championships! Between 1946-55 there was no one better! The Browns won five titles in a row between 1946-50. Now, some of you will contend that four of those titles were in the old AAFC. But when the Browns entered the NFL in 1950 most said the Browns would just be fair game for the big wigs of the NFL like the Philadelphia Eagles. So, in that first game of the 1950 NFL season, the Browns and Graham annihilated the Eagles, 35-10, and sent the NFL league a message, the Browns and Graham would be respected forever. The Browns went on to win the NFL title game that season against the Los Angeles Rams, 30-28.
So, I know, most of you will continue to settle on the idea that Brady is the GOAT. I chalk much of this up on the accomplishment side of things. But I ask that you ask yourself when you really start researching the past great ones, can you honestly say Brady would stand alone at the top against Montana, Manning or even John Elway?
If I had a game on the line and all those greats were available to put in the game to help win it, I’m not taking Brady first. Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday! And we’ll continue this debate next time!