Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL.
I thought that before he led the Patriots to a fourth Super Bowl championship on Sunday evening, and of course that victory only reinforced my belief. What exactly would the argument be against him?
Rather than reel off the usual stats cited ad nauseam -- how Brady owns the record for most passing yards and touchdowns in Super Bowl history, how he's in the Top 5 in most major career regular season categories among all QBs, how he has the most playoff TDs -- let's explore the arguments against now that Brady has tied Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana for most Super Bowl wins of all time.
The first is that Bradshaw and Montana never actually lost a Super Bowl while Brady has lost two. It's an inane argument. Any person saying this is essentially positing that you are better off losing in the Wild Card Round or Divisional Round than actually getting to the Super Bowl and losing.
That makes no sense whatsoever. The goal is to win more games, not less. Kind of like "better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all," it is better to have actually gotten to the Super Bowl and lost in any given year than to have fallen short.
Doesn't Peyton Manning get ripped all the time for how many "one and dones" he has in the playoffs during his career? Would anyone argue for his legacy that it was better that he lost those games than actually reaching the Super Bowl those seasons, even if they fell short in the big game? Of course not.
One of the other things Brady doubters bring up is simply the brilliance of his head coach, Bill Belichick. One of the biggest reasons why Brady has won so much is that Belichick is the best coach of all time, the theory goes. I'm not going to diminish Belichick's accomplishments. He's a terrific coach and a great argument can be made for him as being the best.
But isn't Bradshaw's Chuck Noll and Montana's Bill Walsh in that same conversation? If you are saying Brady's success is primarily a result of coaching, are you inferring that Bradshaw and Montana and any other quarterback in this debate did it in spite of their coaches? Dan Marino was coached by guys like Don Shula and Jimmy Johnson. John Elway's Super Bowls were under the watchful eye of Dan Reeves and Mike Shanahan.
Point is, it is a reciprocal relationship and you'd be hard-pressed to find many great quarterbacks that were coached by slouches. It just doesn't happen, at least not to the level where they are in the discussion among the best ever.
Last but certainly not least when it comes to the anti-Brady debate is the Patriots' impropriety, both alleged (Deflate-gate) and confirmed (Spygate). This is the argument that probably carries the most weight, but even if you believe that the Patriots -- and, by association, Brady -- benefited from these incidents, I think you have to really ask yourself how much.
Even after the Patriots were busted for Spygate, they went on to have a perfect regular season and were a play away in a couple different points in the Super Bowl from the first 19-0 season.
And this year, no matter what the NFL's finding ends up being as it relates to the deflated balls, you have to acknowledge that it was not the reason they demolished the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game. Furthermore, the balls weren't a factor in their Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks.
The bottom line is that whatever they did had a minimal impact on their success, I believe. Just look at what else they were able to accomplish after the fact in both instances, despite all the distractions those controversies caused.
Sure, some people will choose to label the Patriots, Belichick and Brady as cheaters and never give them their due, and I understand that.
Not me, though. Brady's the best I've ever seen and I still haven't heard a very good argument to the contrary.