It’s the belief of many that Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all-time, and they have a compelling case. As it relates to legacy, Brady is the most complete quarterback we’ve ever seen. He has the Super Bowls, individual accolades, and numbers to back up the claims. But what would yet another Super Bowl mean for his legacy?
Brady got off to a head start when he took over a strong New England Patriots team after Drew Bledsoe went down in 2001. Despite his shockingly average 18 touchdowns to 12 interceptions in the regular season, he was still able to manage games well enough to guide the Pats to an 11-3 record to finish the season.
And despite his horrifying postseason performance, New England was still able to capture its first Super Bowl title. In what was quite possibly the worst postseason of any Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Brady threw only 1 touchdown in 3 games while tossing under 200 yards per, good for a dismal 77 quarterback rating.
But the how isn’t what matters with legacies. Nobody cares that Kobe Bryant was given the business by Austin Croshere in the 2000 NBA Finals. They just know that he came out on the winning side.
But Brady’s numbers began to round into form and by 2003, he’d become one of the league’s premier signal callers. He pioneered two consecutive 14-2 regular seasons capped off by a couple of Super Bowls in 2004 and 2005, winning Super Bowl MVP honors in the former. The numbers were starting to backup the team accolades.
With 3 Super Bowls at the age of 27, Brady still had the majority of his prime to tack on a few more, and possibly add a few prestigious individual awards as the cherries on top. But while Brady began to break a few records and capture a few awards, a 4th Lombardi trophy eluded him for over a decade.
Tom had a chance to become the undisputed greatest in 2007, when he led the Patriots to an impeccable 16-0 regular season, behind one of the greatest regular seasons ever by a quarterback. He broke the then-records for passing yards, passing touchdowns, and quarterback rating for a season, and easily captured his first MVP.
But an absolute clunker in the Super Bowl against the Giants put the “GOAT” talks on ice for the time being. In seasons following, Brady continued to put up numbers and advance deep into the postseason, winning his second MVP in 2010, and tossing his first (and only) 5,000+ yard season the following year.
But that same season, with a chance to once again claim GOAT status, Brady and the virtually Gronkowski-less Pats were stifled by Brady’s kryptonite, the G-Men in Super Bowl XLVI. With his last Super Bowl victory coming in 2005, and the disappointment of his last two appearances in America’s biggest game, the questions started being asked.
And those questions were stilled being asked in 2015, when Tom made it back to the big game once more, a decade since he last won one.
Brady put forth a quality, albeit non-spectacular performance, but the Pats won nonetheless, and Brady captured his 4th Super Bowl. The win won over many pundits and fans alike, most crowning him the greatest as the clock hit 0:00, but many were still questioning the past disappointments.
Which is why this season means so much. For a QB with 4 Super Bowls, a 5th should just be the cherry on top. But another win would take Brady past Montana in Super Bowl wins, and considering the season he’s coming off, along with the controversy of Deflate-gate, it’ll be tough for anyone to deny his status as the greatest quarterback ever.