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It was announced on Saturday that Tom Brady will be planning to retire after 22 seasons in the NFL. He played his legendary 22 season with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His full resume is unmatched with the accomplishments and trophies. His story is almost too good to work as a Hollywood script. He will go down as the greatest quarterback that has ever played the game. His legacy is unmatched and it is likely no one will ever reach the peak he has reached.
We all know the story by now. The 6th Round pick of the New England Patriots that showed little to no athletic ability or promise. He told owner Bob Kraft shortly after, “You’ll never regret picking me.” He went on to be the primary backup for starter Drew Bledsoe, but a freak injury against the rival New York Jets propelled Brady into the starting lineup. A magical run in the playoffs, a Tuck Rule, and 4th quarter comeback against the defending champion St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI cemented Brady as the permanent starter. He played most of his career with the great coach Bill Belichick, so most tried to question the level of his greatness.
Fast forward through Brady’s legendary career: 7 total Super Bowl rings, 5 Super Bowl MVPs, 3 NFL MVPs, records for most career quarterback wins (243), most career passing attempts (11,317), most career passing completions (7,263), most career passing touchdowns (624), most career passing yards (84,520) and most pass completions in a season (485). Brady’s resume is clearly unmatched as he has decided to walk away from the game he has helped redefine. Not only does he check off the boxes as far as accomplishment, it’s the longevity that makes him so great. For him to be at such a high level for so long is a wonder in itself. The average quarterback has a career in the NFL for 4.44 years. Typically the really good QBs in the NFL will be a starter anywhere from 8-13 years. Tom Brady has done it for 22 years at a Hall of Fame level. He has often had his career split into 3 sections and all 3 periods are Hall of Fame worthy.
Photo Credit: The Athletic
I have previously discussed Brady's GOAT status here so let's give you a quick recap. He has most sports fans and expects voting him as the G.O.A.T. in the sport of football. While I will never call him the GOAT as a football player, I say he is the greatest quarterback ever. I feel football players are different from basketball, hockey and baseball players as they are only asked to play one side of the ball. He never plays defense so to compare him to other positions is kind of unfair. At his position he’s the best, at the WR position Jerry Rice is the best, Lawrence Taylor at the LB position, Jim Brown at the RB, etc. That is my opinion of course but I have to make the distinction. Only QBs are “credited” with wins, but 21 other position players affect the outcome of the game.
Brady’s accomplishments are so far ahead of the next QB at all levels: whether it’s stats, championship, regular season, etc. We do a disservice to other QBs like Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes to even start to compare the two. In any other reality, Peyton Manning would be celebrated as possibly one of the all time greats but Brady shuts that conversation down. We look at Drew Brees, Rodgers and Mahomes as playoff failures because they only have one ring. We have seen how hard it is to win consistently as Mahomes and Rodgers have been to 4 conference championship games with 1 Super Bowl win each to show for it. It’s hard to win in this league; the grind, consistency, team built around you, etc. Brady has done it so easily and consistently, we want to compare others to him.
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Brady is Halley’s Comet, visible from Earth every 75 years. We don’t see people like Brady and will only see it once in our lifetime. We can’t keep comparing Rodgers’ and Mahomes’ level of greatness to Brady. Tom Brady has reached heights we have never seen in football and rarely seen in all sports. Only Bill Russell and Yogi Berra can be considered on his level for winning. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wayne Gretzky can be on his level for records. Tom Brady rolls all those into one. We need to appreciate Brady for the rarity he is. In 5 years, we will celebrate him in the way he should be celebrated at Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. No one is on his level at the quarterback position and it will likely be a very long time before someone reaches that level ever again.