Up until 11 p.m. last night, I had always considered Joe Montana to be the greatest quarterback to ever play in the National Football League.
And then Tom Brady engineered the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history and changed all of that.
For many, they despise the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and especially, Brady. And for years, people had legitimate reasoning to do so.
The scandals; whether it be Spygate or Deflategate, or the way Brady and Belichick conducted themselves with the media publicly, people had their reasons to hate the existence of the Patriots and Brady.
But putting personal feelings aside, the facts are there, and it’s a debate that Brady himself ended last night by engineering a 25-point comeback and a 19-point fourth quarter comeback to send Super Bowl LI into overtime and then won in overtime, as Brady has solidified himself as the greatest NFL quarterback to ever play the game.
It’s not Montana, not Johnny Unitas, Terry Bradshaw, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning or anyone else that others will throw in for discussion. It’s Tom Brady.
Five Super Bowl championships in seven tries. The first and only quarterback to win five Super Bowls and also the first player to ever win four Super Bowl MVP Awards. Pretty incredible, right? Sure, he did lose two to the New York Giants and one of which was during the then-undefeated 2007 season, but those two defeats to the Giants do not diminish his legacy.
If anything, it makes what the Giants did in their two Super Bowls that more special, because they were able to do what the St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks and now Atlanta Falcons couldn’t do; stop Brady, Belichick and the machine that is the Patriots.
In Brady’s 17 years in the NFL, his career has been filled with nothing but dominance and winning. Only two years where his team didn’t qualify for the playoffs and one of those was due to suffering a season-ending knee injury (they still went 11-5 in 2008). 14 AFC East division titles with eight straight after the 2016 season. 11 conference championship appearances with seven victories and has appeared in the AFC Championship in six straight seasons.
Montana was good. Terry Bradshaw was good. But this level of dominance by a quarterback has been unheard of. And what makes Brady’s case even stronger is his supporting cast.
Look at Brady’s teammates; how many are Hall of Famers? Randy Moss, probably. Rob Gronkowski, eventually, and he didn’t even play in the game in Houston. That might be it.
Montana and Bradshaw were both tremendous players who lead their teams to many championships, but they also had a lot of great players helping them. Montana had Roger Craig and Jerry Rice among others. Bradshaw had Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, and John Stallworth among others. Brady won last night without the best tight end in football. In years past, Brady won with guys like Troy Brown, David Patten, and Kevin Faulk. Not exactly a Hall of Fame list of players, but Brady won with them.
Now, there are those who will argue for Montana against Brady because Montana never lost a Super Bowl game and never threw an interception in a Super Bowl game. Sure, and up until Sunday night, it made Montana’s case that stronger.
But what Brady accomplished; the most yards ever in a game (466), the most touchdowns in Super Bowl history (15) to go along with five Super Bowl championships and four Super Bowl MVP Awards, and not to mention, two regular season MVP Awards as well in 2007 and 2010.
And here’s what’s even more incredible; he’s not done yet.
When the 2017 season starts, he’ll have just turned 40 years old and Brady is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, reports have come out that Brady might look to play another three-five years, so it’s quite possible that Brady could further add to this already historic legacy.
But after Sunday night’s game and with Brady leading the Patriots, again, with another fourth quarter comeback and drive that resulted in the Patriots winning another Super Bowl, it ended the debate once and for all and solidifies Brady as the greatest quarterback we’ve ever witnessed in the NFL.