Could Tom Brady Be The Greatest Quarterback Ever?

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady warms up before a game against the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough, Dec. 30, 2012. (Charles Krupa/AP)

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady warms up before a game against the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough, Dec. 30, 2012. (Charles Krupa/AP)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots are enjoying a more laid-back practice schedule this week, after earning a postseason first-round bye with their 28-0 rout of the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Some say quarterback Tom Brady’s performance this season makes him the choice for league MVP. Is he also the choice for the best QB in NFL history?

A Different Game

A postseason bye was once a long shot for the Pats. They lost two of their first three games this season. But by mid-December, at least according to some statistical measures, Brady was having one of the best seasons for any quarterback in NFL history. ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss says it’s a long way from having a great season to being crowned the best ever.

“The first thing I think about is best ever and how big that is and how do you compare a QB from this era to the ’60s, to the ’70s? Because the game is obviously so different, so that’s the first thought,” Reiss said. “And then the second thought is, you know, there’s a lot of good quarterbacks playing right now, as well, so is he even the best right now?”

“How do you compare a QB from this era to the ’60s, to the ’70s? Because the game is obviously so different.”
– Mike Reiss, ESPN

Brady’s rivals include Peyton Manning, who came back from multiple neck surgeries to lead the Denver Broncos to a 13-3 record. The New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees set the mark at 54 for most consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass. And newcomers Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) and Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins) led what’s been called the best rookie quarterback class since 1983. Luck and Griffin, last year’s first and second overall draft picks, respectively, would have to wait at least a decade before consideration for best ever. Still, Reiss says, they won’t have the same motivation as Brady.

“The fact that he’s never forgotten, ‘I was the sixth round pick, 199th overall, people didn’t believe in me then, I have to keep proving myself each day,’ even now as a QB who’s at the top of his game, at the top level.”

In the frigid parking lot in front of Gillette Stadium recently, the Ganglani family — father Sam, daughter Samantha and son George — huddled around a roaring fire. The Ganglanis have owned Pats season tickets for 20 years, since Samantha was 5 and George was 3. Father and daughter don’t have any doubt that for the past decade they’ve been cheering for the best quarterback in the league.

“Yes, he’s certainly better than those Manning brothers.”

“We have special names for the Manning brothers.”

“Yeah, I don’t think they’re allowed on National Public Radio, unless you have a bleep going.”

George Ganglani offers a more “scientific” approach.

“I can’t really comment on Brady because I’m still trying to get through reading all of the records that he’s broken and I’ve only made it to about page five,” he said. “So there are a few more pages we need to get through but then I’ll be able to see if he’s really the best.”

New Rules Protect Quarterbacks 

It’s true. The list of Brady’s career highlights is very long. But look at most of the NFL records for quarterbacks and you’ll find players from the past decade dominating the lists. Since 2004, the league has changed the rules to protect quarterbacks and encourage scoring. That’s a point Mike Fay, from Wilmington, can’t help but concede.

“Oh, absolutely, and to tell you the truth, you can’t compare Tom Brady to guys that played in the ’60s,” Fay said. “You just can’t. It’s two different leagues. It’s OK, it’s what the game is, but you go back in time, those guys had to fight for their lives all the time, every game, every play.”

Tom Brady with his wife, Gisele Bundchen, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala benefit in New York in 2011. (Evan Agostini/AP)

Tom Brady with his wife, Gisele Bundchen, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala benefit in New York in 2012. (Evan Agostini/AP)

Fay pointed out some of the other differences between Brady and the quarterbacks who came before him.

“So you take a guy like Y.A. Tittle, right? The New York Giants QB? Just look at him after he played a game. Bald head, right? Old man, bloody. Brady would never look like that. He’d never get on the cover of GQ like that!”

During Sunday’s drubbing of the Dolphins, fans huddled in the frozen stadium threw snow in the air every time the Pats scored. The home team celebrated more offensive marks, including setting a new record for the most first downs in a season in NFL history.

After the game, Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick focused on how the team will prepare for the playoffs. Another Super Bowl bid would go a long way toward securing Brady’s place in NFL history. But ESPN’s Reiss says the quarterback’s place in Patriots history is already well cemented.

“We can definitively say that Tom Brady is the best QB in Patriots history,” Reiss said. “The difference with Tom Brady is three things: Super Bowl ring No. 1, Super Bowl ring No. 2 and Super Bowl ring No. 3, which the Patriots had never won before.”

Brady and the Pats begin their bid for Super Bowl ring No. 4 on Jan. 13. Depending on the outcome of this weekend’s games, the Patriots will face the Texans, the Ravens or the Colts.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.kushner.5 Jeffrey Kushner

    Brady is an all time great and has had a very good season. To say that he deserves MVP more than Adrian Peterson is just plain silly

    • steve

      yeah if Peterson doesn’t win it this year with 2100 yards. They should change the name to best statistical QB season. Chris Johnson didn’t win it in 2008 and he had 2000 yards, guess who won it. The media darling Peyton Manning. Go back and check his stats that year. Like six QB’s have better stats than him this year. The media gave him the trophy anyways. Poor AP doesn’t have a shot.

  • LeonardNicodemo

    If Brady wins another Super Bowl, he will be without a doubt the greatest of all time. Unfortunately, he’s blown two big chances. Lets see if he can do it this year.

    Peyton isn’t on his level, especially with a 9-10 record in the playoffs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/harry.zarkades Harry Zarkades

    A good way to judge is by consistency within an era and championships won. Brady is virtually unparalleled, or soon will be, in most every respect.

  • Mike_Card

    No. He is a very good QB and might be the best playing currently. Put him in the same game with Joe or Johnny and he gets his ass waxed.

    • Steve

      Montana was great, but his winning % isn’t as good a Brady’s Montana did win four super bowls (with the 80 dynasty niners) I’m a big Montana fan. I’ll take either one. Montana’s big knock was staying healthy. He was like Vick, always out a few games throughout the year. The game is different now, but Brady has dominated these last 12 years just like Montana dominated the 80′s if not more. Peyton Manning like Marino was more liked. I don’t here squat anymore about Marino, and as time goes on Montana’s legend grows and grows. I loved Joe, but He’s know Brady, and Brady’s no Montana. Montana led his team to win four super bowls but lost 12 other years (two NFC championship games, and one AFC championship game) There is only One winner if football. I hate how Bradshaw says how he is glad he doesn’t know what it feels like to lose a super bowl. That there is what separates Tom Brady from a Terry Bradshaw. Brady would rather go out fighting and clawing his way out, rather than tuck his tail for an early exit that can be easily forgotten about. In my book leading your team to six super bowls is better than just leading your team to the playoffs six times, and leading your team to the playoffs is better that not ever doing it. I’m sure Archie Manning isn’t out there saying I’m glad I never lost a playoff game. I’m glad I don’t know what that feels like.

  • Ronny

    Last time I checked Super Bowls is a team accomplishment. Brady won three super bowls with a great defense. Since his defense has left he has lost both. Manning and Brady have one difference in their careers…. Coaches. Bill Belichick has been considered one of the greatest coaches ever. Manning on the other hand went with Caldwell. As far as individual accomplishment Manning trumps Brady.

    • iceberg

      How does he trump him exactly. Most of Peytons stats are volums stats. He never missed a game until last season, and hes been playing longer than Brady. Brady wins in the efficiency stats, better td int ration, better win pct, better playoff record, more rings etc etc. Brady is better hands down.

  • Fairplay

    One must understand facts as much as football
    Sure things change, as do weak divisions and strong divisions change
    let some objective person, not the Owner, do the numbers, what QB consistently won big games because of the QB and not say the kicker, a back-up QB or video tape.

    The big game is not this week but next in Denver, where the better QB will win

    Things change but remember:
    Joe Montana in Superbowls is undefeated
    who takes 2nd place or 3rd…. open for discussion

    facts only please

  • mark

    Very simple ! Joe Cool. Montana Rice Touchdown……………….. 49ers

  • drglide

    Only one Quarterback in the history of Professional Football took his team to TEN straight Division

    Championships, winning SEVEN League Championships. OTTO GRAHAM.

    • Played in 126 games for the Cleveland Browns

    • Threw 2,626 passes, completing 1,464 for 23,584 yards and 174 touchdowns

    • Ran the ball 405 times for 882 yards and 44 touchdowns

    • Finished with a 105-17-4 regular-season record

    • Led the Browns to 10 division or league titles in 10 years

    • Led AAFC in passing four times

    • Led NFL in passing two times

    • Named All-AAFC four times 1946 (UPI, OA), 1947 (NY, OA), 1948 (UPI, OA), 1949 (UPI, NY, OA)

    • Named All-NFL five times 1951 (AP, UPI, NY), 1952 (UPI, NY), 1953 (AP, UPI, NY) , 1954 (AP, UPI, SN, NY) , 1955 (AP, UPI, SN, NY)

    • Named NFL All-Pro four times 1947 (AP), 1948 (AP), 1949 (AP, IN)

    • Played in five Pro Bowls 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955

    • Named NFL MVP twice

    • Won four straight AAFC titles

    • Named to the all-NFL 75th anniversary team.

    • Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965


    Peyton Manning HANDS DOWN

Most Popular