It doesn’t matter how you frame the GOAT conversation.
Tom Brady – who led Tampa Bay to a 31-9 victory over Kansas City in Super Bowl 55 for his seventh championship on Sunday – belongs to each of those all-time arguments. The five-time Super Bowl MVP will always be a part of those debates, no matter how hard you try to deny it.
There is a lot going on right now. The hateful Brady’s Brainstorm playbook aims to diminish those accomplishments, even after Brady won his last championship at age 43. Countless social media users are scrambling for alternatives – any alternative – to bring Brady down in these GOAT chats with tweets ranging from Ronaldo to Ric Flair.
Well, almost everyone. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who is no stranger to these conversations, tweeted his appreciation for Brady after Super Bowl 55.
MORE: Tom Brady’s seventh ring puts him out of reach of anyone
Our perception? Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time. He has the best case as the greatest soccer player of all time. He’s in the conversation as the greatest team sports athlete of all time, even though he’s not the greatest sports icon of all time.
Yes, you can argue that he is the GOAT of the GOATs.
Don’t you believe it? We break down these five pillars of greatness:
The best QB ever
At a minimum, Brady is the most accomplished player to play the quarterback position in the NFL. What argument can you make against this?
Brady’s got the stats. He has the most TD passes (581) and will join Drew Brees in the 80,000-yard club next season. If Brees retires, Brady (79 204) will also likely end up as the all-time leader in this category.
Brady has the prices. He is a three-time MVP and five-time Super Bowl MVP. Peyton Manning has won five MVP awards, but he also has five fewer Super Bowl rings. Brees and Manning are also statistical machines, but they don’t have the championships.
Mostly, Brady has the rings. He has seven Super Bowl Championships. That’s more than any franchise in the NFL. No quarterback is even close.
Were there more talented quarterbacks? You can advocate for John Elway, Dan Marino, and Aaron Rodgers. Those three quarters combined for three Super Bowl Championships. Their talent is no substitute for Brady’s achievements on the pitch.
Brady’s talent is almost underestimated, especially at his age. In his 21st season in the NFL, Brady had 4,633 yards, 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, all impressive numbers that went relatively unnoticed in the MVP race between Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes II.
So Brady did what he usually does instead: he led a Super Bowl race, with a new team in his first season, passing through Brees, Rodgers and Mahomes. When all of those quarterbacks are in the Hall of Fame years from now, it will be considered one of the greatest Super Bowl races in playoff history.
Of the 10 quarters registered on the “NFL 100” team, Brady is the best quarterback. Sorry Otto Graham, that’s what it is.
Now, is he the best player?
The greatest football player
If you want to make it a positional argument, then that’s fine. USA today released their 100 best NFL players of all time in 2019, and Brady was sandwiched between Jerry Rice and Lawrence Taylor at No.2. Throw Jim Brown at No.4, and it would be the most submissive Mount Rushmore.
Which of these other players is the undisputed best player in his place? Rice has the most receiving yards (22,895) and touchdowns (197) of all time, and he could have the best case of the three. He is statistically the best receiver ever, and there is a gap with the competition. Again, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens may be more talented, but they aren’t more accomplished than Rice.
Taylor’s impact on the other side cannot be ignored, but he would have competition from Reggie White. Jim Brown is said to have competition from other running backs such as Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith.
Brady is still 43 years old, and with every Super Bowl victory he creates distance with this group of all-time legends. Ask this question again: What is the most important position in football?
Quarterback is the correct answer. You can choose any of these other players, but when you factor in other team sports, Brady’s name will filter the topmost.
Best Team Sports Winner
There’s a reason James tweeted about Brady’s seventh ring. It is a standard by which legends of team sports are judged.
James would know. The four-time NBA champion was permanently settled into the basketball dispute with Michael Jordan, who won six championships with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. Yet Kareem Abdul-Jabbar remains the all-time leading scorer and Bill Russell won the most rings.
Wayne Gretzky has more goals, assists and points than any player in NHL history, and he’s won four Stanley Cups. Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo would be football’s answer. Baseball would make Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, or Willie Mays stand out.
Even Yogi Berra is withdrawn in an attempt to argue against Brady.
Yogi Berra: 3-time MVP, 10-time World Series champion, 18-time All-Star
Tom Brady: 3 times MVP, 7 times Super Bowl champion, 14 times Pro-Bowler
How to get there, Tom … pic.twitter.com/Bph0ChTPEG
– Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) February 8, 2021
Are you really gonna discuss Berra for Brady? This should be completed before you begin.
MORE: Brady’s seventh title places him with some of the Yankees’ greatest players
Take your pick between Jordan and James (or both). Gretzky is doing well too. But Brady has the same statistical achievements and awards, and he has the most championships.
He’s also on this Mount Rushmore.
The biggest icon
This is a completely subjective category used to classify athletes.
No baseball player has had a greater impact than Ruth, who clocked 714 homers with the Yankees. Muhammad Ali, the first three-time heavyweight champion, was at the center of the civil rights movement with Jim Brown in the 1960s. Jordan helped globalize the NBA game and become the standard for marketing athletes. James took on this role in the age of social media; where athletes have become more aware than ever of their society.
That’s not to say Brady hasn’t had an impact on our culture. The NFL remains the most watched sport in the United States and Brady dominated the Super Bowl for two decades.
This has become one of the arguments against Brady, and it’s because of the popularity contest factor. Critics diminish Brady’s accomplishments because of SpyGate and DeflateGate, and those are valid reviews. Brady’s relationship with Donald Trump has come under scrutiny in the last two political elections. Everything happens when you come after Brady.
Simply put, Brady’s hatred is strong in the age of social media. This is probably the strongest argument used against Brady, as it is used to take away that GOAT factor.
GOATs of GOATs?
The term GOAT has become overused in these arguments, mainly because there is always more than one acceptable answer and no one is wrong.
We haven’t even talked about individual sports. Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Michael Phelps would be the next generation of athletes to appear in these conversations.
This is an apples to oranges comparison. There is no doubt that these six athletes have dominated their spots, and these athletes have more individual titles.
Williams needs another Grand Slam singles title to tie the record of 24. Phelps has won 23 gold medals. Federer and Nadal each have 20 Grand Slam singles. Nicklaus won 18 Majors, three more than Woods at 15. If you want to give pride of place to one of these athletes based on this athletic domination, then that’s fine.
The exchange rate with team sports is tough, and when putting together that list it’s always tough. ESPN was the last to do so comprehensively with its SportsCentury Campaign at the end of the 20th century. The top five on this list were Jordan, Ruth, Ali, Brown and Gretzky.
Of these, four of those five were team sports athletes. It was a generally acceptable list at the time.
How have times changed?
The athlete with the best overall record to make the top five since the 21st century is Brady, who won his first Super Bowl on February 3, 2002 and has gone on to dominate the sport that captures the nation’s most attention. Woods and Williams have compelling arguments, but James would be next.
James is the most captivating athlete of the 21st century. He’s chasing what Brady has. The championship argument always weighs the most when it comes to separating the handful of athletes considered GOATs.
Brady has this case to be No. 1 with seven championships. If James can get past Jordan in the twilight of his NBA career, there’s a good chance he’s the GOAT of the GOATs. James has the same combination as Brady, and that comes with 49 million Twitter followers.
It’s a conversation that could define the rest of the 21st century, and there’s no logical reason to exclude Brady from any of those arguments. Nitpicks are made and easily distributed on social media, but Brady continues to win in the face.
How can you go against that given what he’s been up to in Tampa Bay this season? He left the bubble Bill Belichick in New England led a 7-9 franchise to the Super Bowl. He wants to participate in a possible eighth Super Bowl championship in 2021.
There is no valid argument against Brady’s greatness (or GOATness) at this point.
He will always be in the conversation whether we like it or not, because he keeps winning.
This is what GOATs do best.
Any argument against contary simply does not hold water.