“I think it’s time to make it official: Tom Brady is the G.O.A.T.”
That refrain is once again making the rounds of the football/sports world following the Buccaneers' stunningly dominant 31-9 victory over the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Sunday night.
I say once again because I think people were saying that after Brady’s fourth, fifth and/or sixth Lombardi trophy he claimed as a member of the Patriots. It actually feels like people have been calling Brady the greatest quarterback ever for well over a decade now.
Let’s face it, to do what Brady did this year—take the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl after signing with them in the spring—he could have shown up to the stadium drunk and spent the whole game throwing with his left hand, and it wouldn’t have tarnished his legacy one single bit.
In other words, Brady was playing with house money even going into his 10th Super Bowl. Winning that game didn’t make his legacy as the G.O.A.T official (by the way, if you’re not aware what that acronym stands for, it’s Greatest Of All Time). It was already in the bag.
Besides, there’s nothing official about naming someone the greatest at his or her position. It’s all subjective. How can you actually determine which quarterback was the greatest of all time? Championships? Why, because Brady just won his seventh Super Bowl? Otto Graham appeared in 10-straight championship games during his 10-year career with the Cleveland Browns (1946-1955) and helped them win seven titles. No, none of them were Super Bowls and a few of them weren’t even NFL titles (the Browns were born in the All-America Football Conference before moving to the NFL in 1950), but that was an unprecedented run of championship success for that era.
I don’t know if Graham ever achieved G.O.A.T status during his time, but Johnny Unitas certainly did as he helped guide the Colts to three titles during his illustrious career—including a victory over the Cowboys in Super Bowl V. Unitas wore the G.O.A.T label for decades following his retirement in 1973. In fact, if you were to broach the subject with some folks even today, they might want to fight you for stripping Johnny U of that unofficial title and giving it to Touchdown Tommy.
I grew up in the 1980s, and while he never approached the championship numbers that Brady did, I can tell you that Joe Montana was the Brady of his day as he led the 49ers to four Super Bowls. I didn’t have the animosity toward Montana that I’ve had for Brady during his 21-year career (I was a fan), but that’s because the 49ers were in the NFC. I’ll bet if you asked fans of the Rams, Cowboys and Bears, they were glad to see Montana leave the 49ers in the early-’90s and play out the twilight of his career with the Chiefs. Unfortunately, upon arriving in the AFC, I did get to experience the negative aspects of that Montana magic when he led Kansas City to an overtime win over the Steelers in a wildcard game following the 1993 season.
When Montana was racking up playoff appearances and titles, it just felt like nobody would ever approach his greatest and his mystique.
Brady did a long time ago.
I don’t know if any quarterback will even sniff Brady’s seven Super Bowl titles, but someone will come along and shock and awe a generation into thinking he’s the G.O.A.T nevertheless.
Heck, some have already begun to say that about Patrick Mahomes; after his pitiful performance against the Buccaneers’ defense on Sunday, he might have to achieve that label without the necessary championships that would make it “official.”
In conclusion, Tom Brady may be the G.O.A.T of this generation, but he’s not the first, and he won’t be the last.