Tom Brady, Best Ever?

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Storyline: I don’t understand how people can say Tom Brady is GOAT. Many fans dismiss prior decades and focus only on the years they’ve been watching the NFL.


Superbowl LI had barely ended and already the question is being asked: Is Tom Brady the greatest QB ever? My first thought was … Oh, please! Not again with this greatest ever debate.

Courtesy: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports, Locker Talk Sports

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with anyone saying Tom Brady is the best QB of his era. He has proven it and I can’t take that away from him.

But best ever?

I think anyone who has studied football history–even just a little bit–could tell you that it’s not really possible to say who was the best ever QB. The game, the equipment, the players, the rules, and so many other variables have changed drastically over the years.

The era in which Sammy Baugh played was so much different from the Johnny Unitas era. And the Johnny Unitas era was so much different from the era during which Joe Montana played. I could go on and on. Honestly, I’m not sure why it’s so hard for some people to understand that.

Courtesy: baltimoreravens.com

I suppose it’s fun to imagine the “what if’s.”

What if Unitas were playing under today’s liberal passing rules. How much more impressive would his stats be?

What if Tom Brady had played in the 1960’s or 1970’s when rules didn’t favor high scoring offenses?

What would have been if Brady had played against the likes of “The Steel Curtain” “The Doomsday Defense,” “The Fearsome Foursome.” or “The Purple People Eaters”? Would he have been able to accomplish as much as he has today?

Sure, it’s fun to imagine and debate, but it’s also not real. It’s make-believe, opinion, and speculation.

I think many football historians would agree that Sammy Baugh or Sid Luckman was the best of their era. Otto Graham was the best of his era. Unitas was the best of his time. Montana was the best when he played, And Brady or perhaps Peyton Manning are the best of today’s QBs.

But why isn’t that classification good enough for some people? Is it because sports fans love a good debate? Or is it something more?

One reason is our culture. Many of us believe there’s no room for second place. There has to be a # 1. Ties are unacceptable. Second or third place isn’t good enough.

The great Sammy Baugh (photo, The MMQB – Sports Illustrated)

So how do we judge who was the best QB ever? Do we go by statistics? Do we go by career wins and losses? Or do we just go by the number of Super Bowl rings?

There’s another reason, too. What I don’t get–really don’t get–is how some people can say Brady is GOAT when they never saw the others play. Many fans don’t even know who these historic players are. Are we just going to dismiss prior decades and only focus on the years that we’ve been NFL fans?

Take, for example, Bart Starr of the Green Bay Packers. He has five rings, too, just like Brady. But only two are Super Bowl rings. The other three rings were won before there was a Super Bowl–before the current NFL structure (post-consolidation with the former American Football League).

Another example is Otto Graham of the original Cleveland Browns. Graham played ten seasons and led his team to the league championship game in every one of those seasons, winning 7 of 10, including five in a row. With Graham at QB the Browns won the NFL title in 1950, 1954 and 1955. They won the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) title in 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949.

Do you think AAFC titles don’t count? Think again! The Browns defeated the defending NFL champion, LA Rams, in 1950–their very first year in the league. There’s no telling how many Super Bowl rings Graham would have won if there had been a Super Bowl back then.

Courtesy: Land of Boz

Am I saying Bart Starr and Otto Graham were better than Tom Brady? No, that’s not my point. My point is that it’s silly to say Tom Brady is the best ever. Brady is a great QB, probably the best of his era.

You’re entitled to your opinion. But let’s not bypass football history. Fans need to look at what other great QB’s have accomplished … before declaring the QB they’ve watched–Tom Brady–is “The Greatest.”

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About Mark C. Morthier

I grew up in Northern NJ as a fan of local sports teams–the Yankees, Knicks, and Rangers. But it was different in football: I was a Dallas Cowboys fan. In sports, I played high school football, competed in Olympic-style weightlifting (1981-1989), and I’m engaged currently in powerlifting (2011- forward). I’ve participated in nearly 60 weightlifting/powerlifting competitions and currently hold several New York State & New Jersey State records in the 50-54 (Masters Division) age group. I’ve also served as a weightlifting/powerlifting coach. In addition to competing I’ve always enjoyed writing, even though I don’t have special training in either journalism or sports writing. Writing is an avocation for me, an adjunct to my day job. For years I worked as a forklift operator. Now I’m a school bus driver in Upstate New York, I’m really honored to be a contributor at The Sports Column. My favorite topics are football, weightlifting, and 1970’s NFL.



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