Tom Brady: the greatest quarterback of all time?

Tom Brady: the greatest quarterback of all time?

569 career touchdown passes is better than 539.

74,571 career passing yards is better than 71,940.

Six Super Bowl rings are better than two.

These statistics close the coffin on the Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning debate. A blanket statement maybe, but I beg to differ because of what sport we’re talking about here. Football was not meant to be a game of complexity; instead, it was meant to be a game of two simple phenomenons: raising the annual Lombardi trophy and winning games in crunch time. 

Before I get into the basis of my argument, I want to make sure that everyone understands that this is an apples vs. oranges debate. Most people are likely to pick either Brady over Manning or Manning over Brady because of their preferences in a quarterback. For instance, some fans would prefer more of a game manager quarterback at the helm, whereas others might tend to lean towards a quarterback that throws it fifty times a game. What I am trying to say is that Manning and Brady will always be an argument, and there will never be a sole winner in this rivalry of epic proportions. 

With all of that preliminary recognition out of the way, the nod—in my book—goes to the skinny kid out of Ann Arbor.

Tom Brady is the only active player in the league that has more Super Bowl rings than fingers on one hand to wear them.

The seventh round draft pick out of Michigan was never seen as “the guy” for an NFL Franchise. In fact, six quarterbacks were selected above him. Even though we can laugh at those teams now for missing out on Brady, he was initially labeled as nothing more than a potential NFL journeyman back in the start of the 21st century. NFL backup quarterbacks always have to be ready to take over the reins the second something detrimental happens to their starter. Tom Brady never envisioned a life-threatening injury to Drew Bledsoe to be the cause for a starting job, but we live in a crazy world. CBS color commentator Tim Brando explained it best:

“Bledsoe… Going to run it?”

“Needs ten yards,”

“Oh!!”

“Oh my!”

“Oh look at Drew,”

“This is a little more critical than first down to the Patriots hopes,”

“Sean Ellis was a brick carrying his 294 pounds along with Moe Lewis right into the path of Bledsoe.”

Drew Bledsoe’s shattered blood vessels did not put his season in jeopardy or even his career in jeopardy… It put his own life in jeopardy. As can be seen, Bledsoe would never start in Foxborough again. No matter how bitter of a taste his career-ending injury tasted, “next man up” means “next man up.” And that next man just happened to be a Hall of Famer. Tom Brady then stepped into Bledsoe’s shoes and never stepped back out. Over his first four seasons as the starting quarterback for the Patriots, Brady compiled a resume like no other player. He was 48-16 in the regular season, he won all seven overtime games, he got into the playoffs three times, and he won three super bowls. Take in all of those monumental accomplishments for a second. Yes, you heard that right: he won a whopping three super bowls in the span of four years. In my opinion, this is where the argument between Brady and Manning stops in its tracks. After winning those three Super Bowls between 2002 and 2005, Brady went on to hoist up three more Lombardi trophies. 

3 Super Bowls+3 Super Bowls=6 career Super Bowl victories 

Terry Bradshaw best described the feeling of a Super Bowl victory when he said, “As a player, it says everything about you if you made the Hall of Fame. But, then again, boy… there’s something about winning a Super Bowl.” That same “feeling” about winning a Super Bowl ran through Brady’s body like adrenaline. The man didn’t even let a 28-point deficit get in the way of his most recent ring. Peyton, on the other hand, wrote a different—Hall of Fame—story. Unlike the wonder-boy Brady, Manning and his name were a part of the most elite family of quarterbacks to share a womb. A gunslinging assassin one day, a Nationwide ad spokesperson the next. Peyton’s down-to-earth personality has always been at the forefront of the NFL; however, a great personality is one thing, yet Super Bowls are another. In comparison to Brady, Manning only managed to scoot to victory in two out the three Super Bowl games his team appeared in. In order to minimize blushing and embarrassment, I will also try to stray away from talking about his 43 to 8 loss to the Legion of Boom and his 13-3 season as a Colt in which he threw two interceptions in a 28-24 divisional loss to the Jaguars. Football is a team game, but Manning was obviously not able to provide any sort of offense to help carry his team to victory when it mattered most; players much more talented than the players Brady has had to work with over the course of his career. Another tidbit that might interest you is that if Manning happened to lead his team into a playoff sudden death overtime in either of those games, then history would not have been on his side; Manning was only 3-4 in overtime appearances, and he was even worse in the playoffs with an 0-2 overtime record. As far as Brady is concerned, he was able to organize eight successful overtime drives and another one in the playoffs. 

In the end, football players’ identities are positively or negatively cemented based on their performances between January 4th and the first Sunday of February. The fact is that Brady’s cards were always pushed into the middle of the table come playoff time, and he had the winning hand almost every drive down the field. Brady’s unshakeable identity was truly formed in the trenches of NFL postseason rounds. After all, he isn’t called Mr. Immortal for nothing.

Tom Brady [tom braydee]

SEE SYNONYMS FOR Tom Brady ON DICTIONARY.COM

noun

a. the best quarterback of all-time.

b. a better quarterback than Peyton Manning

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Check out Thomas’s argument for why Peyton Manning is the GOAT!

Peyton Manning: The greatest of all time?