Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em, Brady’s the GOAT

So I’m going to start this week’s TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Lesswith a disclaimer: I am a lifelong New England Patriots fan. So go ahead and hate me right now. I totally get it. At least I am not some bandwagon junkie, hopping on-board the Patriots Express in the midst of their unprecedented crusade through six Super Bowl titles. No, I grew up less than two hours from Foxborough, Massachusetts (for those of you who even know where that is) and remained a faithful fan even in the midst of an ignominious 1–15 campaign in 1992 that at least resulted in bringing Drew Bledsoe to town. Don’t remember who Drew Bledsoe was? Yeah, that’s because you aren’t a real Patriots fan. Bledsoe was the #1 overall pick in the 1993 draft who was the shining knight for a moribund franchise desperately in need of an influx of talent. Bledsoe led the Patriots to a legitimate resurgence in the late 90’s, even getting them to the Super Bowl in 1997 where they were unceremoniously trashed by Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. Yes, Bledsoe had quite the career for the Patriots right up until the second game of the 2001 season when he suffered a sheared blood vessel in his chest, an injury that left him sidelined for several weeks, only to be replaced by a 6th round draft pick. And just who was that relatively anonymous late-round flyer? None other than Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr., the greatest player to ever don an NFL jersey.

Now if that last sentence stings a little bit, don’t worry- you’re not alone. When I posted earlier this week about how this past Sunday’s Super Bowl victory, Brady’s seventh, cemented his legacy as the GOAT (greatest of all-time, for those unfamiliar with the acronym), the response was overwhelming and vitriolic. To be honest, I really didn’t think my point was all that controversial. I figured Brady’s status as the unquestioned best quarterback in the sport’s history really wouldn’t have many detractors. Boy, was I wrong.

In fairness, I get why people hate him. For starters, just his perpetual success is enough justification for wishing the 43-year old would finally just retire already. As a Patriots fan, even I had to apologize to friends who were just plain sick and tired of seeing the Patriots in the Super Bowl when they played the Rams for their 6th appearance in the “Big Game” in a span of just over 15 years. As a die-hard Red Sox fan for my entire life, I hated watching the Yankees win World Series after World Series during the 1970’s and 1990’s. After awhile you wish that somebody else, anybody really, would end up vying for the championship. So I get why Brady’s seemingly endless run of ten Super Bowl appearances might just make some people nauseous.

But if that wasn’t enough reason for despising the handsome guy with tons of money and a smoking-hot supermodel wife who actually used to make more money than he did, there is also the simple fact that Brady is kind of a dick. A longtime Trump supporter, it has been well-publicized that Brady, who has so much money that even God comes to him for low-interest loans, received PPE funds. Yeah, he didn’t return them. And of course, there’s the whole Deflategate, Brady is a cheater, fiasco. Yeah, if he hadn’t played for my favorite team, I would hate him too.

But just because you hate him doesn’t mean you can deny his greatness. Love him or hate him, and heaven knows there have been few athletes in the modern era more polarizing than Tom Brady, he is, without question, the greatest player in NFL history. And to be honest, there really isn’t much of a debate.

Brady has now won seven Super Bowls and been to ten. He’s only been in the league for twenty years, for crying out loud. That means that half of the years he has played he has made it to the championship as thirty other teams, all with their own NFL talent and legendary players, sat at home and watched. In fact, while Brady has hoisted the Lombardi trophy an epic seven times, no other franchise has won more than six. Yeah, let that sink in for a moment.

For years, people debated whether the credit for the Patriots dominance belonged to Brady or coach Bill Belicheck. But last year, after a disappointing 2019 campaign that saw the Patriots get bounced in the first round of the playoff, a fate that most of the other teams in the NFL would envy (including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Brady finally decided to move on and forge his own path independent of Belicheck. The result? Brady just took a 7–9 team that hadn’t won a playoff game in nearly two decades to yet another Super Bowl victory. And the 12–4 Patriots team Brady left behind? They managed to win just seven games and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 when Tom missed the entire year due to injury.

In fact, Brady has only missed the playoffs once in his entire illustrious career. Some will point to the talent around him, but in the era of salary cap football where rosters change dramatically from year to year and the best players tend to move on to more lucrative pastures, Brady has been the one constant of winning in the NFL. Yes, he threw to Randy Moss and Wes Welker during their unbeaten regular season in 2007, but he also won a Super Bowl in a year where Troy Brown was his leading receiver. Don’t remember Brown? That might be because he came into the league as a cornerback, not a receiver. Yeah, Brady’s that kind of special.

I could go on and on here, but I’ll let the sports writers and prognosticators do that for me. The reality is that greatness, in a form as pure and unequivocal as it is for Brady, is rare and deserves to be recognized and appreciated. Sure I understand that you just don’t like him. But when it comes to debating who the greatest player of all-time really is, Brady just shoved his seventh championship right down your throat.

Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Lessevery THURSDAY at