The most important position on the football field is the quarterback. Each football fan has their own opinion on who is the greatest quarterback of all time.
Sometimes it is hard to compare quarterbacks from different decades, but there are a few achievements that can be used equally to judge the greatness of any quarterback.
The focus of this essay will be on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has been in the NFL for fourteen years, all with the Patriots.
The most important factor in determining the greatness of a quarterback is his postseason successfulness. This includes playoff appearances, wins, and statistics.
Since the quarterback is the most important position, the success of a team in the postseason is placed squarely on the shoulders of the quarterback. The second factor determining a quarterback’s greatness is regular season performance, which include wins, statistics, and awards.
The reason statistics are kept is to separate the great players from the good players. Great players post astonishing numbers and can carry their teams to wins, which in turn earns them season awards.
The third criteria is Super Bowl wins and performance. The Super Bowl is the ultimate goal of every player and coach in the NFL. Quarterbacks are directly related to their team’s ability to win the Super Bowl. It is nearly impossible for a team to win a Super Bowl without a good quarterback.
As the starting quarterback of the New England Patriots, Tom Brady has made the playoffs eleven times. He has been the starter for thirteen seasons. In the 2008 season he was injured in the very first regular season game. So, when Tom Brady has started in every game in a season the Patriots have only missed the playoffs once.
Truthfully, Brady did not start all sixteen games in the 2002 season (the season the Patriots missed the playoffs), he missed one start. That ability to take your team to the playoffs almost every year of your career is astounding.
In those eleven playoff appearances Brady and the Patriots have a record of 18-8, with eight AFC Championship Game appearances. Tom Brady owns the record for most playoff wins for any starting quarterback in NFL history. Brady also holds the records for most passing yards and is in 3rd place for most passing touchdowns in the playoffs with 6,424 passing yards and 43 passing touchdowns.
Brady’s continually success in the postseason proves that he is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. His records that he holds in the playoffs may not ever be broken knowing that Brady probably has at least three more seasons left in his career.
When Tom Brady first started playing in the NFL he was not known to put up gaudy passing numbers, but as he has progressed throughout his career he has become one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. Here is Tom Brady’s career stat line: (Sports Reference LLC)
- Passing Yards - 49,149
- Passing Touchdowns - 359
- Completion Percentage - 63.4
- Passer Rating - 95.7
Brady ranks in the top eleven in each of these categories. He ranks seventh in passing yards, fifth in passing touchdowns, eleventh in completion percentage, and sixth in passer rating. Each of the categories directly relate to the probability to a team’s chance of winning a game.
Because of Brady’s ability to perform at a high level he has won 148 career regular season starts which he is tied for third with John Elway and only bettered by Peyton Manning and Brett Favre (NFL Network). Also because of his great performances Tom Brady has won two MVPs and is the only player ever to be named a unanimous MVP of the league.
Brady continues to move up the all-time leaders list in major passing categories and he has already placed himself above many other great quarterbacks. The only kink in Brady’s regular season armor is the fact that he has only won two MVP awards. The MVP award is given the most important player to any given team.
In other words, if this player was taken off the team, the team would be significantly worse than it would be with the player. In 2008 Tom Brady was injured for the entire season and the Patriots still managed to win eleven games. When Peyton Manning went out in the 2010 season the Indianapolis Colts finished the season going 2-14. The team was completely lost without Manning. It seems that Brady can be replaced and his team is still capable of winning multiple games.
The final criterion that all quarterbacks are judged by is the number of Super Bowl wins. Tom Brady has went to the Super Bowl five times, winning three of them. Tom Brady is one of four quarterbacks that have won three or more Super Bowls (Montana, Bradshaw, and Aikman). He is tied for the most Super Bowl appearances with John Elway (NFL Network).
Many quarterbacks are never able to make the Super Bowl, much less are able to even win the Super Bowl. To go and win the Super Bowl is incredible. If you look at the list of quarterbacks that never won the Super Bowl you know how hard it is to win it. Being able to win the Super Bowl multiple times makes a quarterback great. To win the Super Bowl you have to play your best football, you have to be a leader of the team, and you must be able to put your team on your back to win. With Brady’s success in the Super Bowl he is in a very small class of great quarterbacks.
Looking at the criteria Tom Brady passes all of them. The only one that is a concern is the regular season performance. When he was replaced in the 2008 season his team played at a very high level. The only defense for Brady about that season is that the Patriots did not make the playoffs.
Many believe that if Tom Brady was the quarterback the entire season, the Patriots would have made the playoffs. No matter your rooting interest Tom Brady has to be at least a top five all-time quarterback on everybody’s list. Tom Brady is one of, if not, the best quarterbacks to every play in the NFL -- no debate.