Life, economics, politics, psychology, sociology, racism and other isms, law, history, journalism/media…all through the lens of sport.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The greatest?

I apologize to all those who read the title of this post and automatically - and rightly - though of Muhammad Ali.

However, I'm looking at these NFL playoffs, and all of a sudden there's a real chance we'd have the New England Patriots vs the Atlanta Falcons in the Superbowl. Which means, are we prepared for the discussion to absolutely rage - is Tom Brady the greatest quarterback ever?

That discussion is already out there, with a lot of emotion and stat-parsing on both sides of the debate. Right now, I don't put him at the top, but if he wins a fourth, I think it changes things.

Not to dismiss all the other contenders (Go Ravens), but let's just skip the entire AFC and talk specifically about the Atlanta Falcons.

This team was 9-7 least year and did not make the playoffs. Can you say "parity scheduling"? Against playoff teams this year, Falcons were 4-3, not exactly dominating.

Anyone old enough to remember the last time the Falcons were in the Superbowl, they had danced the "dirty bird" through that regular season to a 14-2 record that once again benefited from the parity scheduling awarded to teams who miss the playoffs the previous year - and then they got spanked in the Superbowl by a veteran team whose quarterback was capping a career of greatness, some guy named, John Elway.

So, here we are again. At the beginning of this season, there are a number of NFC teams most people picked a Georgia mile ahead of the Falcons, because they weren't supposed to be this good. And such is the case, they're not - thanks again, parity scheduling.

Let's get back to "a quarterback capping off a career of greatness." If it goes down that Tom Brady wins a fourth Superbowl then, like him or not (and I'm no fan, Big Mac will tell you) , there will be discussions blazing across the interweb demanding he be acknowledged at least on part with the legendary Joe Montana, if not beyond.

Well, let's look at it this way - Joe Montana never threw more than 31 TDs in a season (and only exceeded 30 once), and won 4 Superbowls with the 49ers, getting help along the way from some guy named Jerry Rice.

Tom Brady, on the other hand, currently has 4 Superbowl appearances, 3 Superbowl wins, a 50 TD season and an undefeated regular season. He had a Rice-caliber receiver for only one of those Superbowl appearances (that's Randy Moss, please don't waste time suggesting that Wes Welker is at that level). The point here is to concede that Brady has gotten by with generally less talent around him than Montana had.

If he wins this one, that'd be five appearances, 4 rings, 50 TD season and an undefeated regular season. But why stop there? He's young enough to try for a 5th and end all debate for all time.

It kills me to say it, but if Montana is the gold standard, then Brady's numbers (Spygate pending) would put him on top.

Here's a scary thought - Steelers find a way to win the big show this year and Roethlisberger will have 3 rings. Marino, none, Roethlisberger, 3 - must we have to entertain discussions of where that would put him amongst the greats? Yikes, greats don't foist a 22.6 Superbowl passer rating on their fans, but that's a distant possibility the likes of which we should hopefully not have to entertain at all.

1 comment:

  1. Whew, we've avoided having to have that conversation, at least for another year.

    But, now we have to deal with the prospect of Roethlisberger having 3 rings himself. Marino, 0 rings. Roethlisberger 2 and counting? Oh, the humanity.