"Pundit" Skip Bayless wrote a column for ESPN.com's Page 2 last week headlined "The greatest? I'm not convinced." In it, he refutes the notion that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the greatest quarterback and coach in NFL history. Specifically, he says that Joe Montana is better than Brady and Bill Parcells is better than Belichick.
It certainly has all the earmarks of a sensible column. There have been a lot of great coaches and quarterbacks in NFL history. There's a very good case to be made that Belichick and Brady are not the best among them. In fact, we'd agree.
But here's the problem. Bayless fails miserably in his so-called effort to make his case. In fact, he fails to mount a single credible defense of his positions. He takes a reasonable idea – for example, "Joe Montana is better than Tom Brady" – and then trips over his own stupidity with an error-filled exercise in selective memory, even admitting along the way that he's a foggy-headed old fogy who prefers to live in the past. Quite frankly, we pissed our pants laughing when we looked at Bayless's limp, flaccid and impotent arguments.
His column is a symbol of everything that's wrong with lazy and inept sportswriters. These are the folks who think you should agree with them simply because they say so. In this instance, Bayless begins with a conclusion (itself an ass-backward oxymoron), supports it with a couple of opinions, and tops it off with some shoddy reporting and selected anecdotal evidence. The coup de grace is when Bayless can't even recall who played for a team -- the San Francisco 49ers -- that he covered as a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News and that he claims to be an expert about.
Bayless's performance was so weak and inept that the angry trolls rose up en masse and demanded that we deliver Bayless to the purgatory of "punditry" called Pigskin Detention, where festers the reputations of those infected with opinion: the likes of Pete Prisco of CBS Sportsline, Ron Borges of the Boston Globe, incompetent Boston-area scribe Buddy Thomas and anyone else who's dared toss an opinion-filled softball our way as we crowd the plate of pigskin knowledge.
Watch in starry-eyed admiration as a steroid-fueled slugger of pigskin punditry, the Cold, Hard Football Facts, knocks Bayless's slow, hanging curveball of a "column" clear over the stands, out of the park and, in a bit of poetic justice, shatters the windshield on Bayless's credibility.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts [appear in italicized brackets] below. Hide your children, folks. This is one ugly beating. Grab a Coke and a hot dog, too, because it goes on for a while.
The greatest? I'm not convinced
By Skip Bayless
A year ago, leading up to Super Bowl XXXVIII, I repeatedly wrote and said on TV and radio that I was offended by two comparisons – Brady to Montana, and Belichick to Parcells.
Tom Brady was already another Joe Montana?
Another Greatest Quarterback Ever? Please, stop it.
Now, e-mailers and debate partners are demanding I admit it: Brady is better.
Not over my dead manual typewriter.
A year ago, when New England coach Bill Belichick had won just one Super Bowl and made it to a second, a talk-radio groundswell gave Belichick the edge over his mentor, Bill Parcells. What closed the case? Parcells hadn't won a Super Bowl without Belichick as his defensive coordinator.
So what? [What kind of rhetorical trash is this? "So what?" What do you mean, "So what?" Well, Skippy Boy, here's what: Parcells has proved completely incapable of winning anything without Belichick. Actually, Skip, the problem with Parcells is that he hasn't won anything – with or without Belichick – in a decade and a half. Look at it this way: Joe Gibbs left the NFL for 12 years to run a NASCAR team. Even he's won a Super Bowl more recently than Parcells. The Tuna is a has-been, Bayless, clinging hopelessly to past glories. Maybe that's why you like him so much, Bayless: He sounds a lot like you.]
Now, e-mailers and debate partners are demanding I admit it: Belichick is better. Give me a break.
Let's start with the 2001 playoffs, when New England got nothing but breaks. Fate lifted a second-year, sixth-round pick named Brady from fourth string into Drew Bledsoe's starting job, and nobody paid much attention to the kid until he had won Super Bowl MVP. [Nobody paid attention? OK, who were all those people who voted Brady into the Pro Bowl that year, long before the Super Bowl? Maybe, Bayless, you should have paid attention.]
There was nowhere near the pressure of expectations on Brady that recently turned Pittsburgh rookie Ben Roethlisberger into a playoff pumpkin.
[This is revisionist history for the ignorant, the lazy and the mentally infirmed. There was much more pressure on Pro Bowl-QB Brady in '01 to lead New England, who was a much bigger component in his team's success. Roethlisberger had the benefit of playing with a defense that was rated No. 1 in scoring and No. 1 in total defense. He also had the league's No. 2 rushing attack, and was asked to hand off more, and throw less, than any quarterback in all of football this season. Brady '01 played with a defense that was ranked No. 6 in scoring and No. 24 in total defense. Brady was also handcuffed by a mediocre, 13th-ranked rushing attack. What did Brady mean to the '01 Patriots? Consider this, Clueless: New England was 5-13 in its previous 18 games before Brady started and averaged just 16.4 PPG. With Brady, the team went 14-3 and the offense quickly slipped into high gear, averaging 25.1 PPG with Brady at the helm. It's all chronicled here (see the "Franchise Fortunes" section). Bayless, you can't be this stupid or lazy and still have a job. We find your ignorance repelling. Your editors should, too.]
And who remembers now that Brady's fumble should have eliminated the Patriots in their divisional playoff game that year?
[Oh, the old "tuck rule" argument. Basically, this is the verbal equivalent of raising the white flag. It's something people cite when they have no ammunition left in their arsenal. Suffice it to say, Useless sees a fumble; the Cold, Hard Football Facts see the most brilliant playoff debut by a QB in NFL history, 32 of 52 for 312 yards in a blizzard and three clutch scoring drives in the 4th quarter and overtime; Nutless sees a lucky break; the Cold, Hard Football Facts see a guy who still had to put up two scores to win the game and who pieced together a brilliant and spirit-crushing 8-for-8 passing performance in overtime; Factless sees the "tuck rule;" the Cold, Hard Football Facts see a vicious head-slap by Charles Woodson that should have been a 15-yard penalty and that, in the confusion, never got called. Go ahead. Look at the replay, Skippy. Woodson jarred the ball loose with a vicious and illegal headslap. The great travesty of the play was that Woodson almost got away with this. Watch the video again and see for yourself.]
Yes, who can forget the Snow Job game and the worst call I've ever seen in the playoffs? Please, Patriots fans, don't e-mail me about the Tuck Rule unless you have carefully read it and can cite the sentence that clearly and completely exonerates Brady.
[First thing people should know: there is no "tuck rule" in the NFL rulebook. It became known as the "tuck rule" simply because it would have been a fumble had Brady "tucked" the ball into his body. But officially, there is nothing called the "tuck rule." With that said, we take Bayless up on his offer. Here's what the Official Rules of the NFL say to exonerate Brady: Rule 3 ("Definitions"), Section 21 ("Pass and Passer"), Article 2, Note 2 states the following: "When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his hand starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if a player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble." Note 3 states: "If the player loses possession of the ball while attempting to recock his arm, it is a fumble."
[The NFL's digest of rules, meanwhile, also exonerates Brady: "When a passer is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional movement forward of his arm starts a forward pass. If a defensive player contacts the passer or the ball after forward movement begins, and the ball leaves the passer's hand, a forward pass is ruled, regardless of where the ball strikes the ground or a player." Replays clearly show that Brady was hit after forward movement began and that it was this hit -- an illegal blow to the head -- that caused Brady to lose control of the ball.]
If he had lost control of the ball while trying to pump-fake or stop his forward throwing motion, yes, the Tuck Rule would have applied. His intent would have been to "tuck" ball back into his body, and the correct ruling would have been: incomplete pass. But Brady obviously had finished "tucking" -- finished his pump-fake [Brady had not obviously finished "tucking" and Bayless is clearly confused about the definition of a "tuck"]. He had cocked his arm back into the set position [he never, ever cocked his arm back into the set position. This is a complete fabrication by Bayless] and was about to throw when blitzing Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson hit him [in the head, illegally].
[Just a note for the record: Even the broadcasters calling the game said on the air immediately after the play that the call was going to be overturned. The officials, of course, agreed and overturned the call. Keep in mind that calls are not overturned unless replays show conclusive evidence. Clearly, ANYONE who knew the rule, and this includes the Patriots coaching staff, the broadcasters and the officials -- it does not include Bayless -- realized that there was enough evidence to overturn the onfield call. Sorry, Bayless, but give it up. It may have been a fumble in your feeble, aging mind. But it was an incomplete pass in the NFL rule book, as we just demonstrated.]
Brady fumbled. The Raiders recovered. The game should have been over. The Patriots should not have had the chance to shock St. Louis in the Super Bowl. [But the Patriots did have a chance and they made the most of it. New England's stunning success since the "tuck rule" -- which includes seven consecutive postseason victories -- should be enough to get people to stop harping on a divisional-round postseason game played three years ago. Of course, as Old Man Skippy readily admits, he prefers to live in the past.]
For that matter, the most special plays made by Patriots the following week in the AFC title game at Pittsburgh were special-teams plays. So the vast majority of media members in New Orleans for the Super Bowl figured Kurt Warner's Greatest Show on Turf would be able to name the score indoors on a fast track. But Rams coach Mike Martz called as poor an offensive game as Belichick game-planned a brilliant defensive one. And still, it took a 48-yard field goal at the final gun to win it. [It also took one of the great drives in Super Bowl history, as Brady and the Patriots took over on their own 17 with 90 seconds to play and no timeouts against one of the league's highest-rated defenses.
[By the way, the "pundits" like to break out the old "blame Mike Martz" theory to explain New England's success as a way to cover their own ass for having been so completely wrong about Super Bowl XXXVI. Here's another reason for New England's victory: The "pundits" like Bayless had no idea what they're talking about. Yes, that's a surprise. They assumed, with no evidence to support their case, that St. Louis would be unstoppable on the indoor carpet in New Orleans. The Cold, Hard Football Facts knew otherwise: The 2001 Rams suffered two losses in the regular season: both were at home, in a dome, on the "fast track" of an indoor carpet. Clearly, they were not a better team indoors. The "fast track" theory is a myth.]
The Patriots missed the playoffs the following season.
[What's your point, Skippy? A year after winning their first Super Bowl, your hero Joe Montana and the 49ers went 3-6 in the strike-shortened 1982 season. Only four teams finished with poorer records that year. In fact, in the two years following their first Super Bowl victory, Montana and the 49ers were a rather pedestrian 14-13, including playoffs. The Patriots, meanwhile, went 9-7 in 2002, the season following their first Super Bowl victory, and finished in a three-way tie for first place. They lost out on the playoffs after a third tiebreaker rule was enacted. Brady, who topped the league with 28 TD passes in 2002, even led the Patriots to a dramatic overtime win against the Dolphins in the season finale to keep alive New England's playoff hopes. In the two years following their first Super Bowl victory, Brady and the Patriots were a rather impressive 26-9 including playoffs, and won another Super Bowl. Bottom line, Bayless: Brady and the Patriots were much more impressive in the years immediately following their first Super Bowl than were Montana and the 49ers. Are you really that lazy? If you want to make a point, pick up a damn stat book once and while and do some research before saying something that makes you look so stupid. It is your friggin' job, after all.]
So, just one year ago, I wasn't even remotely ready to call the Pats' quarterback Tom "Montana," or take Little Bill over Big Bill. After all, Parcells' first-year Cowboys had just beaten long preseason odds to go 10-6 and make the playoffs with the NFL's No. 1 defense. Parcells already was turning around his fourth NFL team.
[Actually, Parcells has turned around only one team, the N.Y. Giants. He's abandoned two others and is coming off a 6-10 season with the fourth. Parcells and his defensive coordinator Bill Belichick won two Super Bowls with the Giants. Of course, if not for an errant field goal attempt by Buffalo's Scott Norwood, Parcells would have just as many Super Bowl titles as Brian Billick, Jon Gruden, Don McCafferty and a host of NFL coaching immortals.
[The other three teams that Parcells "turned around" have never won anything. And the ones that came close to winning something boasted Belichick as their defensive coordinator. The Patriots made it to Super Bowl XXXI and lost. One reason for their loss was that Parcells stabbed his team in the back, negotiating for a job with another team in the days before the Super Bowl. It was one of the great scumbag douche moves in football history and hardly an example of "greatness."
[Parcells also failed to turn around the Jets. Oh sure, the Parcells-Belichick combo led them to the AFC title game in 1998, where they lost, 23-10, to the Broncos. But the following season, Parcells skipped town after leading the Jets to an 8-8 record. Nice turnaround, huh? Parcells skips town after another mediocre season and leaves yet another team in the lurch. But for some reason, frauds -- oops, sorry, incompetent frauds -- like Bayless prefer to cling to the memory of a failed AFC title game appearance. It's embarrassing commentary, Bayless.]
Parcells, of course, won two Super Bowls with the Giants [with Belichick his defensive coordinator]. He guided his Patriots to a Super Bowl with the statuesque Bledsoe at quarterback -- a Hall-of-Fame feat in and of itself [before stabbing Bledsoe in the back]. Parcells' Jets made it to the AFC championship game. Now, his first-year Cowboys appeared headed in that direction, quickly.
[Apparently, incomps like Bayless define the term "quickly" much differently than do the humans. In Parcells' first season at the helm, the mighty Cowboys went 10-6, lost 12-0 to Belichick and the Patriots in the regular season, and then got bounced in the first round of the playoffs. In fact, they were embarrassed 29-10 by Carolina. This season the Cowboys went 6-10 – an utter embarrassment in a conference that sent two 8-8 teams to the playoffs. The Cowboys are one of the dominant franchises in NFL history. Yet in the feeble mind of Bayless, a 16-17 record in two seasons represents a "quick" turnaround performance by Parcells. Bottom line: Bayless is clueless, ignorant or incompetent.]
Meanwhile, just one year ago, I picked upstart Carolina to beat Brady/Belichick in the Super Bowl. [Which means you were wrong. Again. That's a surprise.]
What I did not predict was that the game would turn into a fourth-quarter shootout. Who could have imagined that Tom "Montana" would let the Panthers back in the game by throwing an inexcusable end-zone interception? [Who could have imagined that Brady would lead his team to 11 points in the final three minutes of the game – a Super Bowl record for last-minute offensive heroics?]
Who could have dreamed that Belichick's defense would allow Jake Delhomme's offense to roll up 387 yards and 29 points while running just 53 plays to New England's 83? [Who would have believed that New England's two starting safeties would go down with fourth-quarter injuries? Who would have believed that Brady and the New England offense was still capable of overcoming this handicap? Certainly not Bayless who, in the death-throes of Alzheimer's, has already forgotten about it.]
In my wildest nightmare, I couldn't have foreseen Carolina's Pro Bowl kicker, John Kasay, hooking the kickoff out of bounds after Carolina tied the game with 1:08 remaining. That gave New England the ball at its 40. Brady needed only to orchestrate a 26-yard drive to set up another championship-winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri, this one from 41 yards. New England, 32-29. [Actually, Brady needed to overcome a bogus offensive pass interference call against Trroy Brown that negated a 20-yard completion and set up a 2nd-and-20 situation for New England from its own 43 with 44 seconds to play. Brady completed his next three passes to set up the field goal with just nine seconds to spare. But let's ignore that, Skippy Boy.]
Yet leading up to next week's Super Bowl, I'm hearing that Brady has already proven to be better than the quarterback widely acknowledged as the best ever -- Montana.
I feel positively prehistoric when I recollect that in Montana's first season as San Francisco's starter, he beat Tom Landry's big, bad Dallas Cowboys 45-14 in a regular-season game at Candlestick Park. His go-to wideout that year was a former college quarterback named Freddie Solomon. His running backs were the immortal Wendell Tyler and Lenvil Elliott.
[Bayless should feel prehistoric, because Neanderthals armed with two sticks and a stone had a greater capacity to absorb and accurately disseminate information. In fact, this is where his credibility suffers a death blow. In one single paragraph, he confuses a whole series of years, names, dates and events about a team of which he covered for many years and of which he professes to be an "expert." Let's set things straight: First, Montana's first year as a regular starter was 1980. The team went 6-10. The 49ers lost to the Cowboys, 59-14 that season. Montana's second year as a regular starter, and third year in the league, was 1981. The 49ers went 13-3. That's the year San Francisco beat Dallas, 45-14, in the regular season and went on to win the Super Bowl.
[Second, Montana's "go-to wideout" in 1981 was Dwight Clark, not Solomon. Clark led the team that season with 85 receptions and 1,105 yards. Solomon had just 59 catches for 969 yards.
[Third, Montana's leading rushers that year were Ricky Patton and Earl Cooper, not Tyler and Elliott. Elliot carried the ball just seven times in 1981. Wendell Tyler didn't even play for the 49ers. He was playing for the Rams and did not join San Francisco until 1983. Tyler may not have been immortal, but he was a pretty darn good player when he did arrive in San Francisco. In fact, he led the NFC in touchdowns in both 1981 and 1982, scoring 30 in just 25 games, and helped lead the Rams to Super Bowl XIV in the 1979 season, when he rushed for more than 1,100 yards and averaged a nifty 5.1 yards per carry. Let's put it this way: Tyler was a much better player than Antowain Smith, who was New England's leading ballcarrier on two Super Bowl-winning teams. The 1981 49ers, meanwhile, averaged 3.5 yards per carry. The 2003 Patriots averaged 3.4 yards per carry. Among Super Bowl winners only the 1970 Colts, who averaged 3.3 yards per carry, were worse.]
Montana beat the mighty Cowboys again in the NFC title game at Candlestick. On third and three from the Dallas 6 yard line, with his first option (Solomon) covered, Montana rolled right and lofted one for Dwight Clark, who was working the back line of the end zone. Clark rose and made a remarkable fingertip catch -- The Catch. It's possible Montana was trying to throw the ball away. Yet that was the first of many late, great throws the man made. [Yes, it was a great pass, and one of the great moments in NFL history. But it's a pass Montana wouldn't have needed had he not thrown three drive-killing interceptions earlier that day. This doddering old coot Bayless apparently forgot about those mistakes. What do you expect? He doesn't even know who was on the team. What a donkey.]
His 49ers went on to beat Cincinnati in the Super Bowl -- a game that wasn't nearly as close as the 26-21 score suggests.
[Again, revisionist history by Bayless with nothing to support his contention. Here's the truth about the game: The 49ers were outgained that day, 356 yards to 275. In fact, they were the first team to win a Super Bowl after getting outgained on offense. They also had to settle for a Super Bowl-record four field goals. The game was iced by the 49ers defense, which made a heroic goal-line stand late in the game, repeatedly stuffing beefy Cincy running back Pete Johnson as he attempted to plow into the end zone. Montana's numbers that day, by the way, bear a striking resemblance to Brady's in his first Super Bowl victory. Montana: 14 for 22, 157 yards, 1 TD; Brady: 16 for 27, 145 yards, 1 TD.
[Oh yeah, one other thing: the 1981 49ers had a defense that ranked No. 2 in scoring and No. 2 in total defense. The 2001 Patriots possessed one of the worst Super Bowl-winning defenses. It ranked No. 6 in scoring and No. 24 in total defense, the lowest ever total-defense ranking by any Super Bowl champion.]
Montana (still without Jerry Rice) outran and outgunned Dan Marino's Dolphins 38-16 to win his second Super Bowl -- and second MVP.
[Montana was great that day. But don't forget, he played with the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL, one that surrendered just 14.2 PPG -- better than any New England defense in the Brady era. By the way, Montana's numbers in his second Super Bowl bear a pretty close resemblance, again, to Brady's in his second Super Bowl. Montana: 24 for 34, 331 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs. Brady: 32 for 48, 354 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT.
[Oh, Bayless is right about one thing: The 49ers won that game without Rice. But they also sent 10 (count 'em, 10) players to the Pro Bowl, including Bayless's buddy Wendell Tyler and three offensive linemen. The 2003 Patriots sent just three players to the Pro Bowl. Not one played offense.]
Jerry Rice was voted MVP of Montana's next Super Bowl victory, yet it was Montana's touchdown pass to John Taylor in the final moments that broke the hearts of Boomer Esiason's Bengals 20-16.
[It was a great moment for Montana and nothing can take away from it. But remember, Montana was in his 10th year in the league – and ninth year as a starting QB – before making this, his third Super Bowl appearance. Brady is making his third Super Bowl appearance in his fifth year in the league and just his fourth year as a starting QB. It's an achievement unmatched in NFL history.]
Montana won his fourth and final ring -- and third MVP -- by throwing a 55-10 party on John Elway's Broncos.
Brady has won two Super Bowls by directing drives that set up 40-plus yard field goals by a kicker who belongs in the Hall of Fame. Does that make him better than Montana?
Please, let's wait a little while before we carve that in Mt. Olympus stone. Like, four or five years.
[Brady may not be better than Montana. In fact, we would agree he's not. But he's head and shoulders above Montana at this point in their respective careers. This is not even open to discussion. Brady is on the doorstep of achieving in five years what it took Montana 10 years to achieve.]
Understand, I'm in awe of Tom Brady. He grows on me by the game. [Really? Bayless is the same guy who declared that Brady had been "exposed" after he tossed two interceptions in a 34-20 loss to Pittsburgh during the regular season. Forget the fact that Brady had just engineered the longest win streak in NFL history. That wasn't enough for Bayless. All it took was one loss for him to announce that Brady had been "exposed." It was an announcement of such epic ignorance that it made us physically ill.]
His performance in the AFC championship game at Pittsburgh -- after shaking off a 103-degree fever the night before -- was his greatest yet. Somehow, his arm strength appears to get stronger by the season. He has at least as much velocity as Montana did -- maybe more -- and his passes are just as accurate and catchable. At 6-foot-4, Brady is two inches taller and a little stronger in the pocket than Montana was. Brady's ability to sense pressure and ballroom-dance to buy time and create passing lanes make him Montana's equal, even though Montana would have smoked him in a 40-yard dash. But before I anoint Brady, I need to see more. [Talk about burying the lead. This is the one sensible thing he's said in his entire pap smear of ignorance he tries to pass off as a column.]
I need to see Brady's offense blow out the Eagles. After all, Brady now benefits from the NFL's most dominating power/speed back, Corey Dillon. Brady now relies on the NFL's deepest and surest-handed receiving corps. This sensationally underrated group is a collective star, as opposed to the one standout (Rice) that Montana had. And Brady invariably finds an open receiver because no offensive line gives its quarterback more time than New England's does.
So Brady's offense should be able to do to the Eagles what it did in the AFC title game to the Steelers -- score 40-plus on them. A third Super Bowl in four seasons would match Troy Aikman's run in Dallas, but Aikman's Cowboys twice demolished Buffalo, and had a fairly easy time with the Steelers.
[Actually, Skip, the Cowboys struggled to move the ball against the Steelers. Dallas won, 27-17, but was aided by a pair of Larry Brown interception returns that twice set up the Dallas offense deep inside Pittsburgh territory (on the 18 and 6 yard lines). The Bills, as we recently reported, were one of the most inept "power" teams in modern NFL history and consistently struggled to beat good competition. Dallas did not "demolish" Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVIII. The Cowboys won 30-13 after the Bills committed three turnovers. They did demolish the Bills in Super Bowl XXVII, winning 52-17. But the Bills embarrassed themselves with four interceptions and eight (yes, 8) fumbles, five of which were recovered by the Cowboys. We all know about the importance of turnovers. Well, the Bills set a title-game record for ineptitude with nine turnovers. It's safe to assume that the Patriots would wipe off the planet any team ever assembled if that team committed nine turnovers.
[One other thing to keep in mind, Skippy Boy: the Patriots of 2003 and 2004 have posted a combined record of 33-4 with one game to play. That's the second-best performance over two seasons in NFL history. The Cowboys were 31-7. Needless to say, this New England team is more dominant than that Dallas team.]
Hypothetically, if Brady goes three for four and then decides to retire, he would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer on the strength of his rings alone. But he would not be better than Montana. Show me more fourth-quarter comebacks, more last-minute magic. [What, two last-second Super Bowl-winning drives aren't enough? How about the 33-30 victory at Chicago in 2002? The Patriots trailed 27-6 with 19 minutes to play. Brady threw two touchdown passes in the final two and a half minutes. How about the 30-26 victory at Denver in 2003? How about the dramatic come-from-behind effort to beat Miami in the 2002 finale, to keep alive New England's playoff hopes? How about the near flawless performance in the fourth-quarter and overtime against Oakland in the 2001 divisional playoffs? Had enough?]
Show me you can win at Pittsburgh when your running back and favorite target are hurt. [What, the two Super Bowls without a top running game weren't enough? While you contemplate Brady's performances, Skippy Boy, consider this: he won his first Super Bowl with the 24th rated defense and his second with the 27th rated rushing attack – both among the very worst ever fielded by Super Bowl champions. He's also the first quarterback to win two Super Bowls without a single offensive Pro Bowler by his side. The other multi Super Bowl winners – Starr, Griese, Plunkett, Montana, Aikman, Elway – played on teams littered with offensive Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers. In fact, Brady's previous two Super Bowl champion Patriots teams fielded a total of just four Pro Bowlers besides himself. Again, that's the fewest among any team ever to win multiple championships. Sorry that's not good enough for you.]
Without Dillon and Deion Branch, Brady looked like a sixth-rounder in the regular-season loss to the Steelers. Show me you can win next season when your offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis, is coaching Notre Dame.
For that matter, I'm curious to see how the defensive genius, Belichick, does without Weis. And I remain curious about how Belichick could go 37-45 and get fired after five seasons in Cleveland if he's the greatest coach ever.
But understand, I'm in awe of Belichick just as I'm in awe of Brady. There has never been a better defensive teacher and strategist. He has created the finest parity-beating organization in pro football. [Actually, Bayless, if you followed the NFL or, more importantly, if you were aware of the Cold, Hard Football Facts, you would have known that parity took a big blow this season.]
If I were starting a team from scratch, I'd want Belichick to organize and coach it. But if I owned a struggling franchise and wanted to win quickly, I'd want Parcells. [Again, the Cold, Hard Football Facts can only wonder why. Really, Parcells is 1 for 4 in revitalization efforts and has never done anything without Belichick at his side.] Parcells is one of the all-time great commanders and motivators. He and Belichick are extraordinary in different ways. Just because Belichick is HOT and Parcells is NOT -- his Cowboys went 6-10 this year -- do not lose sight of Parcells' greatness. [We can't help it. His "greatness" exists so far in the past it's hard to see anymore.]
Do not get swept up in the media race to proclaim Belichick or Brady THE GREATEST EVER. Now feel free to Google Brady's girlfriend, actress Bridget Moynahan.