OPINION: Tom Brady is unequivocally the greatest football player in history

Buccaneers quarterback just won his 7th Super Bowl


Brandon Wu

Then-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady pictured at Patriots training camp in July 2019. Copy editor Jordan Parker argues that Brady is the greatest football player ever after his seventh Super Bowl Victory last Sunday over the Chiefs. “Tom Brady” by BTW Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Jordan Parker, copy editor

I’ve been blessed to be able to watch many talented players come through the National Football League so far in my 21 years. I’ve seen players like Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed, Tony Gonzalez, Peyton Manning, J.J. Watt and Philip Rivers.

When I was 7 years old, my Nano flipped the channel to NBC for Sunday Night Football. Being one of the first times I watched football, I was very impressionable. I watched that night as then-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady shattered the regular season touchdown record. After I watched that game, Brady instantly became my favorite athlete and it was on that night that I invested my sports love into the young star out of Michigan.  

Brady came into the league as the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, just over two months after I was born. Nobody believed in him or thought he’d make it in the league — I mean, seven quarterbacks were drafted ahead of him. Yet, at 43, Brady is still here and they’re not. 

The argument I make today is that Brady is not just one of the greats, he is the greatest player to ever play the game of football. What is a GOAT in football? It’s someone who not only dominates the game, but is an artist. It’s someone who proves his will to be better no matter how great he has become. It’s someone whose heights are greater than anyone else who has come before him.

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Now I say this not to slight the greats of the game such as Jerry Rice, Lawrence Taylor and Walter Payton, but I say it because of the mountain of evidence that exists before my very eyes. That’s not to say that the above players weren’t great in their own right. They are among the best to play at their respective positions, but each player lacked what Brady has in one way or another. 

In the case of Rice, he has the personal stats with records such as most receptions all-time and net yards, but was often a beneficiary of playing with Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young. Lawrence Taylor in my opinion is the greatest defensive player ever, but let’s face it — it’s just not possible for a defensive player, especially a linebacker, to hold the title because the impact of players on the game at those positions is lower than others. Walter Payton is often in the GOAT conversation, but he leads no major offensive statistical categories, which makes his argument difficult. 

Truth be told, Brady has shattered the model of expectations for quarterbacks (the most regarded position in football) during his trailblazing career, which is what ultimately separates him from anyone who has come before him.

Where do I start? Of course, I could do the classic run-down of his seven Super Bowl victories in 10 appearances, 581 total touchdown passes and 79,204 passing yards. It’s so much more than that though.

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Brady now has 34 playoff wins, 14 more than the next closest player Joe Montana. He has led 39 comebacks trailing only Peyton Manning and has come up big for his teams almost every time they needed him. Not to mention that his 34 playoff wins are only less than three NFL franchises (Patriots, Steelers, Cowboys).

In addition to that, Brady is the all-time leader in every major playoff category, including yards, touchdowns, wins, completions and Super Bowl MVPs.

Brady helped lead the Patriots to their first Super Bowl victory in 2001 when they defeated the St. Louis Rams, the team known as “The Greatest Show on Turf” at the time, by a score of 20-17. From there, the Patriots won two more Super Bowls in three years against the Panthers in 2003 and the Eagles in 2004. 

A legend is not judged just by their success though, they are judged by how they respond to adversity. Losing two Super Bowls to the Giants and Eli Manning in 2007 and 2011 put a dent in Brady’s legacy because all of a sudden he went from undefeated in Super Bowls to 3-2 as he entered the backend of his career. But Brady rebounded, winning four super bowls in the last six years. He is the ultimate champion of football. 

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While continuing to win, Brady silenced critics about the approaching “cliff” that he was heading toward like Peyton Manning or Brett Favre did in their final years. What did Brady do? Nothing much — besides having the second best year of his career statistically with 40 touchdowns and 4633 yards.

In fact, if you split Brady’s career in half, he’s performed better in the second half than in the first. From 2000-2010, Brady averaged 27 touchdown passes and 3633 passing yards, but from 2011-2021 he has averaged 31 touchdown passes and 4446 passing yards.

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What makes Brady the GOAT most of all is his unbelievable performances in the clutch. He has led 39 comebacks, which is second of all time to only Peyton Manning. My personal favorites are when he led the Patriots’ comeback from down 28-3 in Super Bowl 51, their comeback from down 24-14 in Super Bowl 49 and their comeback from down 20-10 in the 2018 AFC Championship game against the Jaguars with a torn thumb ligament. 

And certainly no one can deny that Brady became the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl at age 41 in Super Bowl 53 against the Rams and then broke that record again two weekends ago against the Chiefs at 43 years old. Nobody can deny that he’s the oldest quarterback to throw for 4000 yards. 

There is not and never will be a player like Tom Brady. He is dominant, clutch and a proven champion. In the 101-year history of the National Football League there have been over 23,000 players and only one is the greatest. His name is Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.