Tom Brady's legacy: The greatest quarterback in NFL history?

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  • By NFL.com
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Tom Brady just won his fourth Super Bowl (equaling Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for the most ever by a quarterback) and third Super Bowl MVP (matching Montana for the most by any player). Not to mention, Brady just passed Montana for most career touchdown passes in the Super Bowl (13) and Peyton Manning for most completions in a single title game (37).

In a postgame interview with NFL Network's Alex Flanagan, Julian Edelman couldn't help but be in awe of his highly decorated teammate: "He's the greatest quarterback ever to live on this Earth. He's won four Super Bowls in the modern-day era with a salary cap. He's been to six. I'm a huge Joe Montana fan, I love him to death, but Tommy's No. 1."

Does this analysis check out? Is Tom Brady the greatest quarterback of all time?

  • Adam Schein @AdamSchein
  • There's a compelling argument to be made

    I covered this in my Super Bowl wrap-up piece Monday. Tom Brady has now won four Super Bowls, as well as three Super Bowl MVP awards. He's thrown the most touchdown passes in Super Bowl history. He set a record with 37 completions in a Super Bowl. Brady led a majestic comeback against the best defense in the NFL.

    Let it all sink in. On Super Bowl Sunday, he was cool. He was calm. He was dominant. He was vintage Tom Brady.

    There's no doubt that Brady is the best ever in big games -- and one can certainly make the case that he's the single greatest quarterback in NFL history.
  • Gregg Rosenthal @GreggRosenthal
  • Brady has evolved into his era's definitive figure

    I don't have a strong opinion on the greatest ever. Is that so wrong? It's impossible to truly evaluate quarterback play across different eras unless you go back and watch a truckload of game tape. That's not happening.

    Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of this era, like Joe Montana and Johnny Unitas were the best in their eras. Brady and Peyton Manning have dominated the last couple decades, but Brady's improvement in the second half of his career gives him the edge. He also did more with less: During his four title runs, Brady played alongside two other guys who made the Pro Bowl at the end of the season. Montana played with 12.

    It's nice that Malcolm Butler helped secure a fourth title, but Brady's evolution has been on display since 2007. He's the ultimate leader and team player in the ultimate team sport.
  • Gil Brandt @Gil_Brandt
  • I can't say Brady's the best, but I'd give him the edge in one area ...

    Brady is firmly in a group of quarterbacks I consider to be the best of best all time, alongside Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino, John Elway, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Otto Graham. I think Brady will end up having records that stand for a long time, some even forever. I'm not sure anyone will ever win as many playoff games as him (21); I don't think we'll ever see another quarterback come up with as many fourth-quarter comebacks under the postseason spotlight (Brady has six, the most since 1960). But it's just too hard to pick any of those quarterbacks -- let alone Brady -- as the no-doubt absolute greatest.

    Now, if you were to ask who I would pick among the signal-callers in that group if I needed to win just one game, I'd go with Brady. He's shown he can come from behind and that he can execute whatever game plan he needs to in order to beat whichever team he's playing. So while I can't say Brady is unquestionably "the best ever," I can say I'd take him first in a must-win situation.
  • Chris Wesseling @ChrisWesseling
  • Brady or Montana? Debate fuel for sports bars across America

    Tom Brady just shredded the generation's best pass defense with a Super Bowl record 37 completions en route to an epic fourth-quarter comeback that will run in loops on NFL Films. So, what's next? Unending pigskin-head debates on the merits of Brady vs. Montana.

    Each quarterback boasts four Super Bowl titles and three Super Bowl MVPs. Brady will never compete with Montana's gaudy 11:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 127.8 passer rating on football's biggest stage, but the former now owns career Super Bowl records for passes, completions, yards and touchdowns. It's hard to compare their overall statistics, as Brady obviously benefits greatly from playing in a far more pass-happy era. That said, Montana enjoyed superior supporting casts.

    Here's the truth: Brady and Montana are in a league of their own. Johnny Unitas merits mention in the discussion, but to me, it's a two-man debate. And honestly, there isn't a wrong answer.
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