Monday, February 6, 2017

Top 5 Reasons Why Tom Brady Is Not the Greatest Quarterback of All Time

In a column in today's New York Daily News, Manish Mehta said:

Even though the great Jim Brown once seemed to come from another time and place, the debate is over: Tom Brady is the greatest football player to have walked the Earth.
Clearly, he's typing with only one hand. A New York sportswriter should know better than to praise a New England athlete like that.

Top 5 Reasons Why Tom Brady Is Not the Greatest Quarterback of All Time

5. The Competition. Let's look at the 1st 2 quarterbacks to win 5 Super Bowls. Just to get into the 4 Super Bowls that he was in, all of which he won, Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers had to get past Lou Saban's Buffalo Bills with O.J. Simpson, Ted Marchibroda's Baltimore Colts, Red Miller's "Orange Crush" Denver Broncos, John Madden's Oakland Raiders twice, Don Shula's Miami Dolphins twice, and Bum Phillips' Houston Oilers twice. Then, in those Super Bowls, he had to beat Bud Grant's "Purple People Eaters" Minnesota Vikings, Ray Malavasi's Los Angeles Rams, and Tom Landry's "Doomsday" Dallas Cowboys twice.

Just to get into the 4 Super Bowls that he was in, all of which he won, Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers had to get past Landry's Cowboys, Jerry Burns' Vikings twice, John Robinson's Los Angeles Rams twice, Bill Parcells' New York Giants twice, and Mike Ditka's Chicago Bears twice. Then, in those Super Bowls, he had to beat Forrest Gregg's Cincinnati Bengals, Shula's Dolphins, Sam Wyche's Bengals and Dan Reeves' Broncos.

Now, who did Brady have to beat to get into his 5 Super Bowls? Jon Gruden's Raiders, Jeff Fisher's Tennessee Titans, Jack Del Rio's Jacksonville Jaguars, Norv Turner's San Diego Chargers, John Fox' Broncos, Chuck Pagano's Indianapolis Colts, Bill O'Brien's Houston Texans, Mike Tomlin's Steelers, Bill Cowher's Steelers twice, Tony Dungy's Colts twice, John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens twice,

And who did he beat in those Super Bowls? Mike Martz' (not Dick Vermeil's) St. Louis Rams, Fox' Carolina Panthers, Andy Reid's Philadelphia Eagles, Pete Carroll's Seattle Seahawks and Dan Quinn's Atlanta Falcons.

Does anybody think Brady had it tougher than Bradshaw and Montana? Especially when you consider that the idiocy of the Jets, the Dolphins and the Bills has all but handed the Pats the AFC East on a plate every year?

4. Look At the Record. Steelers in the Playoffs under Bradshaw: 7-3 at home, 2-3 on the road. 49ers under Montana: 9-2 at home, 1-3 on the road. (That doesn't count the 1-0 at home, 1-2 on the road for the Kansas City Chiefs with Montana as quarterback later. But it does show that, like Peyton Manning but unlike Brady, Montana could win under a different coach.) Patriots: 17-3 at home, 2-4 on the road. (This does not count winning the 2001 AFC Championship Game away to Pittsburgh, as Brady was hurt, and Drew Bledsoe had to come in.)

This shows that, in the Playoffs, Brady had a much bigger home-field advantage than Bradshaw or Montana. But, on the road, Bradshaw was better, and, while Brady has a better percentage than Montana, he also lost more games.

Oh yeah: Neither Bradshaw nor Montana ever lost a Super Bowl. Brady did. Twice. To the 2nd-best Manning brother.
Or, let's put it another way:

3. Look At the Odds. Did the quarterbacks in question do as well as expected?

* Super Bowl IX: Going in, the Steelers were favored by 3. They won by 10.

* Super Bowl X: Steelers by 7. They won by 4.

* Super Bowl XIII: Steelers by 3 1/2. They won by 4.

* Super Bowl XIV: Steelers by 10 1/2. They won by 12.

Bradshaw vs. the spread in Super Bowls: A net +6. An average of +1.5.

* Super Bowl XVI: 49ers by 1. They won by 5.

* Super Bowl XIX: 49ers by 3 1/2. They won by 23.

* Super Bowl XXIII: 49ers by 7. They won by 4.

* Super Bowl XXIV: 49ers by 12. They won by 45.

Montana vs. the spread in Super Bowls: A net +66.5. An average of +14.1.

* Super Bowl XXXVI: Rams by 14. The Patriots won by 3.

* Super Bowl XXXVIII: Patriots by 7. They won by 3.

* Super Bowl XXXIX: Patriots by 7. They won by 3.

* Super Bowl XLII: Patriots by 12. They lost by 3.

* Super Bowl XLVI: Patriots by 2 1/2. They lost by 4.

* Super Bowl XLIX: The odds were "Pick 'em," a.k.a. even, or a toss-up. The Patriots won by 4.

* Super Bowl LI: Patriots by 3. They won by 6, and needed overtime to do it.

Brady vs. the spread in Super Bowls: A net -.5.

Montana, 14.1. Bradshaw, 1.5. Brady, -.5 -- a spread loss. And if you take into account that last night's Super Bowl went to overtime, that it was tied at the final gun, then the total is -9.5.

"But wait, Mike," you say, "neither Bradshaw nor Montana pulled a Super Bowl upset. Brady did." This is true. But neither Bradshaw nor Montana lost a Super Bowl, let alone one that they were favored to win. Brady did. Twice.

"But wait, Mike," you say, "what about come-from-behind wins? Brady put together the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history! Nobody had ever come from more than 10 points down before! He came from 25 points down! Twenty-five freakin' points! And Brady led the winning drives in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XLIX!"

True, but in the 1st 2, the game was tied, and was won with a field goal. Bradshaw had to come from behind in the 2nd half in XIV, in his opponent's own metro area if not quite its own stadium, and the 49ers were losing when Montana led the drive for the winning touchdown in XXIII.
Also, look at the point totals -- a direct consequence of the quarterback's performance. Taking out the safeties that the Steelers that the Steelers scored in IX and X, Bradshaw led the Steelers to 14, 19, 35 and 31 points -- 99 points, or 24.75 per game. Montana led the 49ers to 26, 38, 20 and 55 -- 139, or 34.75 per game. Brady led the Patriots to 20, 32, 24, 14, 17, 28 and 34 -- 173, or 24.71. Slightly less than Bradshaw, and well under Montana, both of whom faced tougher competition.

2. The Beneficiary of Screwups. Later in today's column, Mehta had to add:

For all of Brady's superlatives, his legacy was cemented by two plays that he witnessed from the Patriots sideline. The G.O.A.T. can thank the goats for helping cement his place in the NFL annals.
Two years after Seattle's Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell dialed up the single dumbest play-call in Super Bowl history to set the stage for Malcolm Butler's goal-line interception, Falcons resident genius Kyle Shanahan killed his team's chances of burying the Evil Empire too.
Brady's fourth-quarter heroics that got New England to within 28-20 would have been too little, too late if not for a brain cramp by the Falcons' offensive coordinator. Julio Jones' brilliant 27-yard toe-tapping sideline catch down to the Patriots 22-yard line should have been the dagger to finally put an end to this Brady and Bill Belichick lovefest.
The game was effectively over with 4 ½ minutes left. Shanahan, set to take his first head coaching gig in San Francisco, should have run the ball three times and kicked a relatively easy field goal to give Atlanta an 11-point lead that would have put the game on ice.
But he got bored or cute or possessed by some alien faction, whose sole mission was to ensure that Belichick and Brady won their record fifth Super Bowl ring. We may never know the truth.
Whatever the reason, the genius looked like a dope like so many others facing these Patriots. After Shanahan called a running play that lost one yard, he had the bright idea of dialing up a deep drop for Ryan on 2nd and 11 from the Patriots 23 with 3:50 left in regulation.
It was the most ill-advised decision of the night for Shanahan, who saw it all crumble before his eyes. The Patriots took their first timeout after Ryan was sacked for a 12-yard loss that put the Falcons at the edge of field goal range. On third and 23, a nine-yard completion was erased by Jake Matthews' holding penalty. One incompletion later, the Falcons punted, leaving the door open for the one man in the history of this sport that you don't want to leave the door open for.
This "brain cramp" by the son of 2-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Shanahan of the Denver Broncos comes 2 years after Carroll blew it for the Seahawks by calling a pass play on 3rd-and-goal at the 1, and Russell Wilson blew it by not saying, "To hell with what the coach says, I'm winning the Super Bowl with a Bart Starr quarterback sneak."

By the way, Brady joins Starr as the only 2 quarterbacks to win 5 NFL Championships -- and Starr did so having to play at least 3 postseason games that make Brady's "Tuck Rule" game in Foxboro in 2002 look like sweater weather. Also, while Brady had to face bigger guys, such as Ray Lewis, he never had to face head slaps and horse-collar tackles. While wearing that era's protection. The 1960s NFL that Starr beat 5 times would have left Brady looking like C-3PO on Chewbacca's back during The Empire Strikes Back. Bart Starr: There's another quarterback better than Brady. Along with Sammy Baugh, Sid Luckman, Otto Graham, Johnny Unitas, Bradshaw and Montana.
Five the hard way

But back to the fact that Brady won at least 2 Super Bowls based on opposition screwups. Make it 3, with Andy Reid's clock mismanagement for the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Did the other 2 guys I've brought into the conversation, Bradshaw and Montana, benefit from opposition screwups? If so, was it to the same level as Brady?

Montana? Never. The closest he came was in Super Bowl XXIII, when the Bengals lost one of their best defensive players, Tim Krumrie, to a broken leg. That's not a screwup, that's bad luck. There's no guarantee that the Bengals would have won with Krumrie available for 60 minutes.

Bradshaw? In Super Bowl IX, a brain cramp by Sam McCullum on a punt return set up a Dave Osborn (not "Super Dave" Osborne) fumble that led to a safety. And Bill Brown fumbled the opening kickoff of the 2nd half, setting up the Steelers' 1st touchdown. But the Vikings couldn't get anything going all day. Their only score was on a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown, so both teams made mistakes.

In Super Bowl X, Reggie Harrison blocked Mitch Hoopes' punt through the end zone. But that's more a credit to Harrison than a goof by Hoopes. But, both times, it was the Steelers' defense that gave Bradshaw just enough opportunity to lead 2 and then 3 touchdown drives to win the games.

In Super Bowl XIII, with the Steelers up 21-14 in the 3rd quarter, Jackie Smith dropped a wide-open pass in the end zone that could have tied it for the Cowboys. But they still got a field goal out of the drive. Cowboy fans still complain that the referees helped the Steelers thereafter, but who's kidding who? The Cowboys got so many bogus calls in the 1970s.

Either way, there's no logical argument that either Bradshaw or Montana benefited from opposition screwups more than Brady.

Or from Reason Number 1.

1. Cheating. We only know about 2 examples. Which is sort of like the Secret Service saying, "Hey, in the last 115 years, only 2 Presidents have been shot. And only 1 of them died."

We know about "Spygate," when the Patriots were disciplined by the league for videotaping the Jets' defensive coaches' signals from an unauthorized location during a September 9, 2007 game, on the way to making Super Bowl XLII (which they would lose to the Giants); and "Deflategate," in which they used deliberately underinflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts on January 18, 2015, to get into Super Bowl XLIX (which they would win over the Seattle Seahawks).

You might say, "Innocent until proven guilty." Well, proven guilty. So now, every single Patriots' success since Belichick became head coach in 2000 -- including Deflategate, which was apparently all Brady, though Belichick apparently never told him that cheating is wrong -- is suspect. All 5 titles, all 7 Super Bowl appearances, all 226 games (regular-season and postseason combined) that the Patriots have won in these past 17 seasons are under a cloud.

You might say, "The Spygate game? The Patriots won it 38-14. The Deflategate game? The Patriots won it 45-7. How much difference could the cheating have made?" Possibly no difference. Possibly all of the difference. Possibly just enough of the difference.

Look, suppose that on the day of that Super Bowl XLII, February 3, 2008, you were as rich as Patriots owner Robert Kraft -- as of September 2016, said to be worth about $5.2 billion. And suppose Bernie Madoff asked you to invest $200 million with him. And suppose you did. And suppose that, when Madoff was caught on December 11, 2008, you discovered that all $200 million was gone. What the heck, you still have $5 billion, right? You're not in financial trouble, right? It doesn't matter: He still cheated you. And there are other people who were in financial trouble because of him.

Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison. For Spygate, Belichick was fined $500,000, and the Patriots were fined $250,000 and had to forfeit their 1st round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. For Deflategate, Brady was suspended without pay for 4 games, and the Patriots were fined $1 million and had to forfeit their 1st round pick in the 2016 Draft and their 4th round pick in the 2017 Draft.

They have gotten to keep all 5 titles.

Now, let's go back to the 1999 college football season. Michigan beat Ohio State 24-17. Supposed it had come out that Brady, then Michigan's starting quarterback, had deflated balls. Or that head coach Lloyd Carr had ordered an illegal recording of an Ohio State practice. What would the NCAA have done to Michigan? Probably ordered them to forfeit all 10 of their 1999 season wins and several scholarships, and banned them from eligibility for the Big Ten title and bowl games for at least 2 seasons. And Carr would have been fired. And Brady likely wouldn't have been drafted by any NFL team.

Of course, Brady didn't cheat to get Michigan that win -- that we know of. After all, he hadn't yet met Belichick.

But we know that Brady has been the beneficiary of cheating -- and, in the case of Deflategate, was even the cause of cheating.

How can we trust anything he's ever accomplished?

We can't.

One more thing: Guess where Brady went to high school. Junípero Serra High School in the San Francisco suburb of San Mateo. It's a very prestigious Catholic private school. Among its alumni are Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Lynn Swann, former USC coach John Robinson, former Mets Danny Frisella, Jim Fregosi, Gregg Jeffries, and... Barry Bonds.

Barry Bonds and Tom Brady. If you didn't know that either one of them had cheated, you could argue that each is the greatest player in the history of his sport. And they came out of the same school.

But both of them cheated. We know that this is true. And, what's worse, both probably had enough talent to not cheat, but did it anyway.

What the hell are they teaching kids at Serra?

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