I would certainly hope that this debate is over after winning his fifth Super Bowl. So more than anything, I would just like to take the time to marvel at what this guy has done in his career. I love to witness athletes who I can look back on and say that I saw the greatest to ever to play the game, and in my lifetime, Tom Brady is it.
Super Bowl Wins: Winning 5 Super Bowls definitely closes this case in my mind, but one debate that always drove me nuts was when he was compared to Joe Montana and how Joe Montana never lost a Super Bowl, making him more clutch. Despite winning the same amount of rings (before the recent 5th), people often pointed out that because Brady lost 2 others, this somehow had an impact on his legacy. What baffles me about this argument is that Tom Brady got second place TWO MORE SEASONS than Montana did. Tom Brady got two more silver medals and the same amount of golds, and for some reason Montana was still considered better?! And by extension – let’s talk playoff appearances. Tom Brady has won 25 games in the playoffs compared to Joe Montana’s 16. In my mind, before his 5th Super Bowl win, he had solidified himself as the best ever because he had given his team a chance to contend so many times in his career, and the big stage of the playoffs was more of an understood expectation rather than an end goal. And Joe Montana won his last Super Bowl at an impressive age of 35, but Brady won his last two at the later years of 37 and 39! Pure dominance from end to end of Brady’s career and would not count him out for contending for more in the future.
Supporting Cast: Joe Montana had Jerry Rice for his last 2 Super Bowl victories and with statistically the best WR ever, that is a supporting cast that Brady never had. Tom Brady, on the other hand, has worked with castoffs like Chris Hogan and LaGarrett Blunt and other players like Boston favorites, Deion Branch and Julian Edelman, which I would argue (and I do love both of these guys) are more products of the system rather than can’t-miss talents, because Bill Belichick is in a league of his own when it comes to coaching.
Deflate Gate*: Let’s all be honest here. Deflate Gate was a way for Roger Goodell to flex his muscles and act like he runs a tight ship when previously the Ray Rice scandal further exploited how money-driven and incompetent the disciplinary policies are in the NFL. Because lets be honest here – if Roger Goodell ever actually cared about the inflation of the footballs, HE WOULD NOT HAVE THE TEAMS BRING THEM TO THE GAME! If he cared the NFL would do exactly what the MLB does and supply the balls at the game – not give them to the players before to scuff them (like Eli Manning stated in a New York Times Article) or over-inflate them (like Aaron Rodgers told Simms). Do I believe that Tom Brady had the footballs deflated? Probably. But more than anything, I believe this was another prime example of the Patriots being used as the scapegoat for the commissioner to make an example of and enhance his imagine as a no-nonsense commissioner, which he is not.
But I believe that we all knew when Tom Brady came back from his suspension that we were going to see something amazing. Tom Brady is one of the best competitors in sports, and overcoming the largest point deficit in Super Bowl history (25 points) proved just that. The perfect ending to one of the best Super Bowls I have ever seen (toss up for me with this one and the infamous interception at the 1-yard line against the Seahawks – instant classic). But what made this ending even more special was Roger Goodell being booed out of the stadium and not even hanging out on the stage for more than 5 minutes. To me, this was the cinema equivalent of Maximus defying the emperor in Gladiator. Despite the odds, Roger Goodell was forced to award victory to the player that had been one of the biggest thorns in his side for the last two years. To paraphrase from Russell Crowe’s character, “He won the crowd, he gave them something we had never seen before.” And we are all witnesses.
– Joey Almars