There is no argument, Tom Brady is the GOAT
By HUNTER KOSSODO
College Contributor Network
Before this season started, Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning was still a debate.
That's settled. And guess what? So is Tom Brady vs. every quarterback who's ever lived.
Brady now has four Super Bowls and joins Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks with that many. But how can Brady be better than Montana when Cool Joe has as many rings and Super Bowl MVPs, and never threw an interception in a Super Bowl when Brady just threw two of them on Sunday?
There are two things that separate special quarterbacks from the merely talented ones. Performance in the playoffs, and performance in the clutch. In both of these subjects, Brady has no equal.
Brady is the only quarterback in league history to start six Super Bowls and passed Montana for most Super Bowl touchdown passes with 13 now to his name. He has the most passing yards, passing touchdowns and game-winning drives in the playoffs. In every Super Bowl the Patriots have won, it's because Brady had to orchestrate a game-winning drive. Every one of them.
Down 24-14 with 12 minutes left to go in the fourth quarter against the best pass defense in the NFL, the Patriots are on their own 24-yard line on second-and-18 after Brady was sacked on first down. Brady goes five-for-seven, including conversions on third-and-14 and third-and-eight, and a touchdown pass to Danny Amendola.
New England's defense forces a three-and-out, and now Brady has the ball again down 24-21 with less than seven minutes left in the game. Brady didn't complete a third-down conversion in that drive because he never had to. He goes nine-for-nine, the ninth going to Julian Edelman to what amounted to the game winning score.
Facing the Seahawks and perhaps the best defensive unit since the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, Brady threw a Super Bowl-record 37 completions for 328 yards and four touchdowns. Yes, there was also a couple of interceptions but this was the biggest spanking Seattle's defense has ever received on a national stage in three years. This was the same defense that held Aaron Rodgers to 178 yards, one touchdown and two picks on 55.9 completion percentage two weeks ago.
Sure, there was some luck involved. By now everyone with access to a keyboard has blasted Pete Carroll for not running on the one-yard line when he has a running back whose nickname is Beast Mode. But luck goes both ways. Jermaine Kearse had one of the most miraculous catches in Super Bowl history two plays prior, and Doug Baldwin was so open for his lone catch of the game, a short touchdown, because Darrelle Revis ran into an umpire. Luck happens to both teams in every game of every season, so you can hardly discredit a player because "he got lucky."
We talk about "ifs" too much in sports. You can't make a case for Montana on the basis that if the Seahawks punch it in with Lynch, then Seattle wins the Super Bowl and Brady is stuck at 3-3 in the big game. Hypothetical situations have no place in arguments like these, only what actually happened. It's the same as saying if David Tyree and Mario Manningham don't make two supernatural catches, suddenly Brady is a perfect 6-0 in the Super Bowl. Using the if argument is ridiculous.
Today's NFL does favor the quarterbacks and allows for inflated numbers more than it did in the '80s and '90s, but defenses have also evolved and become more complex than ever before.
The best defense Montana faced in the Super Bowl in terms of yards allowed was the '89 Denver Broncos that allowed 4,407 yards in the regular season. The other three teams Montana faced all gave up at least 5,100 yards, which was right around or below the league average at the time.
Just one of Brady's Super Bowl foes gave up over 5,000 yards in the regular season: the '04 Eagles. The '01 Rams, '03 Panthers and '14 Seahawks allowed between 4,274 and 4,725 yards, all marks well above the league average.
Even though Montana didn't have the rules in the offense's favor as much when he played, Brady had to play much tougher defenses in the Super Bowl. Brady didn't have Jerry Rice either.
Brady's postseason stats seem padded because the Patriots are in the playoffs every year he's healthy, but the fact that the Patriots are in the playoffs every year he's healthy is a testament to his greatness. For most of his career he's been the most-loved athlete in Boston, a baseball town, and he's lead his team to an incredible 14-year run of success in a sport where that should be impossible.
He's got the records, the wins, the moments, and he's the greatest of all time.
Hunter Kossodo is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is a rabid supporter of Boston sports having lived there for most of his life. Follow him on Twitter: @HKossodo