Pardon Your Take? Issue 2: Tom Brady as the GOAT

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It’s the debate that will NEVER end: Who is the GOAT? All sports partake in their own version of it. Recently the media and most fans have begun referring to Tom Brady as the undisputed GOAT of the NFL. Naturally many disagree and argue fervently against Brady as the GOAT. Two of our writers, Larry Horn and Steve Reisner, have decided to debate one another on the issue.

Steve: There have been a lot of great quarterbacks to play the game of football, but only one can be the Greatest of All Time.  To me that Quarterback is Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.  Tom Brady has led a completely unprecedented 20 year long dynasty that will probably never be matched in any sport and he’s even favored to win his SEVENTH Super Bowl this year at the age of 42.

Larry: Super Bowls should not be the biggest factor in measuring the GOAT. Put Brady on another team and he won’t get the same results. I used to think Joe Montana was the GOAT. When they sent him out to Kansas City he played like garbage without his elite receivers.  Plus if you want to weigh the ring factor, then let’s talk about Otto Graham who won 7 championships. Otto Graham is the GOAT.

Steve: Well your point on Montana helps my point.  Joe was not the same guy in Kansas City without Bill Walsh or his great receivers.  Look at the insane turnover of receivers he’s had in his 20 year career, most of whom were nowhere near Pro Bowl caliber playing anywhere.  He dragged Reche Caldwell to an AFC Championship game, and he couldn’t make practice squads the next year.

No matter who the weapons are around him, no matter the circumstances, Tom Brady always finds a way to elevate the players around him, and rise to the occasion

Larry: Good point, but let’s talk about who was able to make Brady. Sammy Baugh literally pioneered the modern day pocket passer when it was unheard of. Otto Graham found alarming success with Sammy’s teachings that the passing QB became a phenomenon with Otto. This was also in a era where there was no true focal wide receiver either.

Steve: Those are good points Larry but the game has evolved a lot since then. The athletes have gotten bigger stronger and faster, and the defensive schemes have gotten smarter.  Otto Graham and Sammy Baugh forced defenses to get smarter to defend the pass.  Nowadays a quarterback has to read the field much more than back in their day.

For 19 years Tom Brady has been able to make all the throws, and he picks apart any scheme the modern era can throw at him with surgical precision.

Larry: The athletes have gotten bigger and stronger, but in this age the QBs ARE protected. You don’t see edge rushers drooling for a chance to put physical pain on a QB anymore. 

Back in the day, the reason why they needed pioneers was to make QBs fearless. The protective gear was majorly inadequate and you can drive a QB into the ground without any repercussions. Brady can use his surgical precision but there are limits to what a  rusher can do in this era compared to Otto’s era.

Steve: It’s interesting that you bring up the rule changes Larry, because one such rule was implemented after Brady suffered an ACL injury in 2008 after throwing 50 touchdowns and winning MVP the year before, they call it The Brady Rule and many assumed his career would suffer.

Since then he has appeared in five Super Bowls, winning three of them with two Super Bowl MVP awards and in 2017 became the oldest player to ever win the league MVP award.  He’s 42 now and he’s not slowing down.  Let’s face it, Tom Brady has redefined longevity.

Larry: Thank you for taking the longevity route. Longevity could have something to do with it but clearly he is still in a QB safe era. Otto had to survive for 11 seasons and by the way seven championships in 11 years compared to Brady’s six in 17? Oh yeah and Otto MVP five times.

Steve: If you’ve ever seen me debate sports then you’d know I hate doing this but you have to look at the era in which he played.  You said yourself Larry that Otto Graham was pioneering the passing game, there weren’t many elite passers back then, there wasn’t as tight or as tricky of coverages, and it was Pre Salary Cap.

Otto was able to dominate the 60s and I’m sure he’d be good now but with all the great quarterbacks in today’s game, he wouldn’t win nearly as many MVP’s and you can’t keep teams together anymore these days. The competition is simply better.

You also can’t discount the clutch factor or killer mentality of Brady.  He has more game winning drives than any quarterback in history, including one in each of his six Super Bowl wins.  There aren’t many quarterbacks that can be down 28-3 late in the third quarter of a Super Bowl and still win the game.

Larry: Great response. Pre Salary Cap has nothing to do with it since like you said there are more elite QBs in the pre-salary cap era. There wasn’t any gadget plays or tricks. Everything was straight up. Plus back in Ottos day he only had two options to throw to. The RB wasnt a factor in the passing game and they didn’t have wide outs. The receivers were ends. There was no motion and no play action passes to bait the defenses. Like you said Otto would be good in our era but Brady would not know what to do in his. 

The games were shorter and the seasons were shorter also. There was not as many teams as now especially with AAFC so the defenses relatively knew what they were up against.

Steve: I could sit here and talk about his arm strength and speed and accuracy all day.  I could even talk all day about his ability to read the field and look off defenders.

To me, as corny as it sounds, the one thing no scout can ever read is what a man has in his heart, how much they can accomplish with just will power.  Tom Brady was a sixth round draft pick, he worked his way to second on the depth chart and took over for superstar QB Drew Bledsoe after he got injured, thrown into the fire, a team that was 5-11 the year before.  Tom Brady turned that team into Super Bowl champs that year.  Then he just kept winning.

They went from nobodies to being perennial contenders for almost 20 years now, and Tom Brady made it happen.  He’s faced some all time great teams, some historically insurmountable circumstances and damn near always found a way to just win.  Let’s talk again after he wins his seventh Super Bowl this year at 42.

Larry: Well we all know the average length of career is 9 back in the 40s and 50s. But here again Otto won in his last year after 11 seasons at 34. If he went to 42 he would have maybe won 10 championships. 

Let’s wrap this up by saying Otto still holds two records that have still held up to this day. He holds the highest winning percentage for a starting QB: .826 through 11 seasons. He also holds the record for career average yards gained per pass attempt with 8.98 yards. 

Let this sink through a bit but could Brady even do what he did anywhere else without the help of Bill Belichick. I mean really while Brady was reigning, Belichick coached two other QBs that also enjoyed the system under him. Otto had two head coaches .

A big thank you to Larry and Steve for participating in the debate this week. Who do you think won? Go to the forums and vote! Also check out our last debate here!

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