3 Reasons Tom Brady Is the Greatest NFL QB of All TimeFriday June 7th, 2013 - New England Patriots Tickets
It's time to put the debate to rest. Tom Brady is the greatest NFL quarterback of all time. Period.
There might be a couple guys with more rings, and a couple with slightly higher stats, but when you take the sum of all the parts, Brady stands alone.
He has the stats. He has the wins. He has every intangible a team could want. And with a handful of seasons still to go, Brady will only further cement his place as the best to ever play the position.
Let's begin by touching on the historical context, because there are plenty of lists out there that say players like Sammy Baugh, Otto Graham and Bart Starr were all better than Brady.
There is an over-romanticized view of NFL history that conveniently leaves out factors like how less dependent football was on quarterbacks back then, and how much smaller and simpler the sample size was.
Yes, Bart Starr won five championships, but two of them only required him to win one playoff game, while two others required him to win two. He also had almost as many interceptions (138) for his career as touchdowns (152). Not to mention the Packers were truly powered by their running game during their championship runs of the 60's.
It's nice to remember all the greats who have come before, but with all due respect let's be honest, the players now are bigger and faster, and the game of football has evolved into the most physically and mentally-challenging game on the planet. And the quarterback is unquestionably at the center of it.
The most basic goal of offensive football has and will always be to score, and ultimately win. That's the constant between the early days of the game until now, and no quarterback in NFL history has done both more consistently than Tom Brady.
Thus, let's judge Brady against the only other two players that should even be in the conversation, Peyton Manning and Joe Montana, and look at three critical areas why Brady comes out on top.
1. Brady has consistency.
One of the most common arguments against Brady is that he's played for one of the greatest coaches of all time, and when he was winning Super Bowls and defeating Manning in the playoffs, he had one of the best defenses of all time.
To try and judge a quarterback outside of the coach who shaped him and the players he played with is a pointless exercise. Brady, Montana and Manning all had their share of talent surrounding them over the courses of their career.
And it's not as if the teams around Brady gave him a distinct advantage over Manning specifically.
When compared to Manning's teams in Football Outsiders' DVOA efficiency rankings, Brady's defenses averaged 15th. Manning's averaged 17th.
Eventually all these arguments level out. If anything, Brady has lacked the consistent weapons that Montana had in Dwight Clark, Jerry Rice and Roger Craig, and Manning had in Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.
Brady has had turnover at the receiver position that neither of his rivals experienced until they switched teams late in their careers, and he'll again have to overcome it this season after losing 62 percent of the receptions he threw last year.
Regardless of who Brady has played with, he's still won at an epic rate and turned no-names into stars (Wes Welker) and stars into superstars (Randy Moss).
2. Brady has the stats.
Montana gets edged out in the stats argument due to the evolution of the passing game in the NFL, while he was also limited somewhat by the short-pass West Coast offense, but Manning and Brady are nearly identical in every statistical category.
There's no question, Montana was efficient, but Manning and Brady were explosive.
Since Brady is 9-4 all-time against Manning, the argument that Manning is the better quarterback has devolved into taking the actual game of football out of the equation.
If the two quarterbacks were judged in a bubble with the same defenses and weapons surrounding them, then Peyton is better.
And based on pure talent alone it's probably true, but football isn't played like a Madden simulation.
What makes Brady better is what makes football great; consistency and clutch play under pressure, something Manning has struggled with over his entire career as evidenced by his eight one-and-done postseasons.
Early in his career, Brady engineered wins against MVPs and more talented teams, and when he finally did get the kind of talent around him that Manning and Montana had, he broke their records.
Manning had the statistical advantage until 2006, but since Brady's 50-touchdown campaign in 2007, the argument has swung in No. 12's favor.
3. Brady has the wins.
For those who think that winning, and especially winning championships, is the ultimate factor in judging the greatest quarterback, the debate comes down to Brady and Montana.
Montana's four rings and three Super Bowl MVPs are most often held over Brady, along with the fact that he never lost a Super Bowl.
While it might be unfair given the evolution of the game to compare the two statistically, that door swings both ways when we talk about the wins.
Going 3-2 in Super Bowls in the free-agency era is every bit as impressive as going 4-0 before free agency.
Until Brady wins another Lombardi, the pro-Montana crowd will always have that fourth ring over him, but it's easy to overvalue Super Bowls. They are, in essence, a single game in an exhibition-like setting, and in Brady's case, all five could've gone either way.
When factoring in the regular season over the course of their careers, Brady has won more, and more consistently than Montana.
Because Brady's defenses didn't get a stop on the last possessions of Super Bowls 42 and 46 can't be the only significant factor as to why Montana is the better quarterback than Brady.
In both games, Brady put his team in position to win. He didn't have the best performances of his career in either, but the thin line between winning and losing in the NFL can distort just how how tough continued dominance is in the modern game.
The All-Time Best
Brady is at or near the top of every possible way to rank or measure a quarterback.
He's won a ton of games, both in the regular season and in the playoffs, over a still-going stretch of 12 seasons, minus 2008.
He's set records. He's done it in all kinds of weather. And he's done it against some of the most heralded defenses and players of the modern era.
And of course we can't forget Brady did it all as an unheralded sixth-round pick.
Even if he's not the best, there is no one better than Tom Brady. And this season, with a new crew of receivers, he has a chance to raise the bar even higher.
Mike Dussault is a New England Patriots Featured Columnist and is the Managing Editor of PatsPropaganda.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.