Regardless of what your opinion of Tom Brady is, he is one of the most successful quarterback’s in NFL history and will undoubtedly be a First-Ballot Hall of Famer when it’s all said and done.
Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, who won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, feels Brady has already cemented his legacy as the greatest of all time no matter what the outcome of Super Bowl LI is on Sunday.
“I don’t think he needs to do any more,” Aikman said Tuesday. “I’m sure he’s sitting there saying he wants to win his fifth [championship]. That would be the cherry on the pie. . . . I think that anybody who wants to make a case for Tom Brady being the greatest of all time, they certainly can do that regardless of whatever happens on Sunday.”
When you crunch the numbers, it’s not hard to see why Aikman feels this way. In 15 seasons as a full-time starter, Brady has won four Super Bowls, seven AFC title games, and 14 division titles. Brady is a three-time Super Bowl MVP, has been selected to 12 Pro Bowls, and is currently sticking it to father time, as he is arguably playing his best football at the age of 39.
In 2016, Brady surpassed Peyton Manning for all-time wins by a quarterback and posted a record-breaking 28:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the regular season. Brady’s stat sheet for his entire professional career is also very compelling, as he has completed 63.8 percent of all of his passes for 61,582 yards, 456 touchdowns. His 97.2 career passer rating is the third highest of any signal caller to ever play in the NFL.
The longevity Brady has displayed over the course of his career is incredible, and no quarterback in NFL history has been able to match some of the milestones he has achieved. He is the only quarterback to start in seven Super Bowls and will be the only quarterback in NFL history to win five Super Bowls if the Patriots can top the Falcons in Houston on Sunday.
“If he wins five Sunday then there’s your answer,” said Terry Bradshaw, who along with Joe Montana and Brady are the only quarterbacks to have won four. “And everybody should be fine with that.”
Bradshaw, who won four Lombardi trophies with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1974 to 1979, gave his list of quarterbacks he felt had a case at being referred to as the greatest of all time. Players such as Montana, Johnny Unitas, John Elway, [Peyton] Manning, and Roger Staubach, who have all won multiple championships, were all in that list.
However, Bradshaw also gave Dan Marino and Dan Fouts, Hall of Famers who never won the big game, a shootout as well. The point he was trying to make is that the circumstances a player faces in their career, which all vary greatly, could also play a role in their overall success.
“I’ve always said Joe Montana was the best,” said Aikman, who will call Sunday’s game with Joe Buck on FOX. “That’s just been the guy who I’ve answered that question with.”
Being a broadcaster for FOX, Aikman doesn’t have the opportunity to call – or watch – many of Brady’s games, as Brady plays for an AFC team and FOX primarily broadcasts NFC games. Despite this, Aikman still feels Brady is the best player to ever toss the pigskin, and stated how he was impressed with how Brady continued to play at a high level despite a revolving door of talent around him.
“In addition to the Super Bowls, what’s amazed me about the Patriots and Tom is that they’ve done it with so many different people,” Aikman said. “And most of us who went to multiple Super Bowls, we pretty much had our same core.”
When Brady first took the field earlier in his career, he wasn’t as valuable to the Patriots as he is today, as Bill Belichick, who is more of a defensive-minded coach, built a system to rely on a dominant defense and balanced offense. But as the NFL evolved, placing a much higher importance on quarterback play in the process, Brady bloomed into the blue-chip player he is today.
Make no mistake about it; Brady has had plenty of talent at his disposal, having big name players such as Troy Brown, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Rob Gronkowski to work with over the course of his career. But even without these superstars on the field, Brady has still found a way to win ballgames.
“Look at what Tom Brady has accomplished. Now you tell me the Hall of Famers that surrounded him,” former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson said. “And that’s why I say, especially in the era of free agency and salary cap, and the way you change your team every year. Back in the old days, you got you a great team and you had that great team for a long time.”
Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr, who ruled the NFL in the 1960’s, had 11 Hall of Fame players to go to battle with during their reign of supremacy.
Although the topic is constantly discussed, Brady doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about his legacy, as he ignores questions about it because he feels he’s still adding on to it. Being on the wrong end of two Super Bowls, Brady knows you can’t take anything for granted in the NFL.
“I don’t think anything about a personal legacy,” Brady said Tuesday. “Those words would never even come out of my mouth unless I just repeated them. Those things have never been important to me. I never thought that I’d be at this point in my life. I never thought that I could play professional football. I didn’t think I could play any professional sports.
“Of course, I had dreams and hopes like probably a lot of kids, but never could have imagined I’d be here after 17 years doing this.”
Only Brady knows if he thought he was going to make it to the big game after he was suspended for the first four games of the season due to the Deflategate controversy, which has been a thorn in New England’s side for over a year now. He choose to end his appeals to the league, not because he felt he was innocent of the accusations being thrown his way, but because he felt it was the best decision for the good of his family.
“It has been a challenging year for my family for some personal reasons,” said Brady, who appeared to become emotional during Monday’s media night when he spoke of his father, Tom Sr.
Brady’s parents didn’t attend many of his games this season due to health problems his mother, Galynn, had been dealing with.
On Sunday, Brady’s entire family, which includes his wife, Gisele, and their three children will be attending Super Bowl LI. While winning a Super Bowl in front of his whole family would be a great way to walk off into the sunset, Brady doesn’t plan on calling it quits and intends on playing in his 40’s.
“It just feels like it’s very much still ongoing,” said Brady. “There’s no time for me to look back or look ahead. There’s so much going on. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I still want to keep playing. After this game I’ll probably take a week or two off and get back to work.”
If the ageless Brady continues to produce at a high level in the years to come, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind as to who the greatest player to ever wear a helmet and shoulder pads is. Love him or hate him, Brady’s greatness can’t be denied.