Is Tom Brady the Greatest Football Player of All Time?

Updated: July 24, 2017

Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?” -Ben Franklin

A shaded sundial has no use. Tom Brady was a shaded sundial coming out of college. Six other quarterbacks and 192 other players were selected before pick #199 in the 2000 NFL Draft. He landed a new home in New England; a new home that, at the time, had three other quarterbacks in front of Brady on the depth chart. No team carries four quarterbacks on the roster into the regular season. 18 years later, and pick #199 has more Superbowl appearances (7) than any football player, regardless of position, and more Superbowl titles (5) than any other quarterback. He also has more Superbowl MVP’s (4) than any other player. He has more division titles (14) than any other quarterback, and ranks fourth all-time in touchdown passes and career passing yards. Tom Brady certainly has let the light shine on his sundial. He has adopted the coveted nickname in the media today, the official title of GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). But the question remains, did he do enough to take that title from the previous title holder? Who even held that title before Brady? Well, not a quarterback…

That previous title belonged to the player that most would still consider to be the NFL’s hardest worker. He still currently holds the titles for all-time leader in receptions, touchdown receptions, receiving yards, and all-time titles in more than 100 other categories.* He also owns 3 Superbowl rings himself. Yes, for the past decade, Jerry Rice was been widely regarded as the league’s GOAT. His accomplishments are certainly irrefutable.

Brady’s career isn’t over, yet. So it goes without saying that if he were to win the 2017 Superbowl, making his total Superbowl victories 6 (double that of Rice’s), the purpose for this article might diminish. However, let’s address the elephant in the room, the elephant that calls Tom Brady a cheater. Deflategate and Spygate are less elephants in my opinion, and more like a tiny storm cloud faintly hovering in the distance in a clear sky on a beautiful day. Some people might like to point at it, saying that it ruins the nice weather. Other people (more reasonable people) admit that a tiny cloud doesn’t take away from the overwhelming evidence of amazing weather. In the Deflategate game against the Indianapolis Colts for instance, Tom Brady would have won, even if you replaced his deflated footballs with bricks.

On the other hand, Jerry Rice would catch whatever you threw at him, even if you replaced his properly inflated footballs with bricks. In fact, that is exactly how Jerry Rice learned to become the greatest receiver of all-time. His father was a mason, and threw bricks to him during work days. Rice learned the meaning of hard work on those days, and learned to not drop a single brick. Such work ethic is properly reflected in his records over the years. He is unquestionably the greatest wide receiver ever to have lived. But is the the greatest player?

I admit, comparing two players, with very different positions in a highly team sport can be difficult. Tom Brady has played for arguably the greatest NFL head coach of all-time during his entire NFL career, while Jerry Rice had (before Brady) the greatest NFL quarterback of all-time throwing to him, with arguably the greatest offensive line for most of his NFL career. We should be thankful that we lived in an era where these men’s careers overlapped, even if only for a few years. They each have affected the game so extensively that neither name could be left out of the history of the NFL. It certainly makes you think though, how unstoppable both these men, in their primes could have been, had they been given the opportunity to play together. For today, I’ll leave those day dreams and virtual simulations for Madden. For tomorrow, I’ll leave who the greatest is up to you. Far be it from me to write an article, even slightly diminishing the accomplishments of Jerry Rice. But far be it from me to diminish the current accomplishments of Tom Brady. So, I’ll let you decide. However, I will say, do not reflect on what the player did that you didn’t¬†like, but try to reflect on what such a player did that you did like. Someone’s greatest accomplishments may have been achieved even when you may be their biggest opposer. But, with some time, you may just remember them as the greatest football player of all time.




Opening picture via

*some statistics from

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